Touring the Jimmy Carter Museum and Library and seeing many of the parts of history that President Carter was part of and his personal life brought back so many memories of my childhood in Rhode Island in the late-1970's and early 1980's.
When Jimmy Carter was running for President in 1976 and was elected and took office in 1977, we grew up learning about his fascinating family including his daughter, Amy, who was my age, and his youngest brother, Billy. Billy Carter was kind of a failed entremprenuer and ambassador for his brother's Presidency, and he is famous for brewing his famous Billy Beer that was sold nationwide in several liquor stores. I remember my Dad buying a six pack of Billy Beer at the local Riverside Liquors and giving it a try at home. After a few sips and swilling it around his mouth, Dad said it tasted like cheap beer, and he didn't buy another pack of the stuff again. This is surprising because Dad now drinks Milwaukee's Best while he moans about my taste for the "Rich Person's Beer," Samuel Adams. The Billy Beer concept failed along with some of the other business ventures Billy Carter started.
Jimmy Carter came into office during a gas crisis in which several gas stations around the country were running out of gas due to an oil embargo. In 1978, several states initiated an odds/evens system of getting gas in which if you had an even number license plate number, you could only get gas on a certain day, and vise versa. The long lines waiting to get gas on a designated day growing up in Rhode Island and when my Dad was working near Philadelphia from 1978-1979 made the long wait a game for my sister and I when we would point out people with even numbered license plates trying to get gas on the wrong day.
Another time during Jimmy Carter's Presidency was the Camp David Accords with Egypt's Anwar Sadat and Israel's Menachem Begin. After decades of war between the two nations over the Sanai, the piece of land between Israel and Egypt, the two old lions of these two nations were kissing and making up with the help of the United States. I would sit at home watching the news during the peace talks at the Presidential retreat in Maryland and was thrilled when the peace treaty was signed by Sadat, Begin, and Carter in 1978 and eventually had a friendship that lasted until Sadat's assassination in 1981. This peace between Egypt and Israel has outlasted Begin and Sadat and is an everlasting legacy to Jimmy Carter.
Where were you when the Iran Hostage Crisis took place on November 4, 1979? I was in 7th grade at the time and seeing the newspaper articles at the Carter Museum brought back memories of a crisis in our nation's history that destroyed Jimmy Carter's Presidency. I would watch the news every night with my parents and sister and an interview with the Ayatollah Khomeni made me think of him of an evil old man. A friend's brother even had a poster on his bedroom door with a picture of Khomeni with a bulls-eye and the expression "AYATOLLAH COCK-A-MENI!" printed on it. We found that pretty amusing for the time. Thousands of cars, including our Oldsmobile 442 and Oldmobile Vista Cruiser, had yellow ribbons or white handkerchiefs tied to the antennas in a show of support for the hostages in Iran, and many of us were hoping for Carter to lose the 1980 election in order for the hostages to come home, and that they did after Carter left office on January 20, 1981. Jimmy Carter's Presidency wasn't as successful as after his presidency when he was instrumental in several peace brokerings throughout the world that led to his 2002 Nobel Peace Prize and Habitat for Humanity that has given several low-income families a place to call home.
Jimmy Carter is a hero of mine, and I was so honored to finally visit his Library and Museum and see his legacy in person.