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Published: September 24th 2019
My first trip to Atlanta was back in the 80s as I recall. I was attending a convention, then on my way to the US Open Tennis in NYC (1982). I was greeted by my friend, Ken Bob at the airport, along with a large cooler of ice cold beer. Those were the days!!
He proceeded to show me the Atlanta that he knew, as a native. We made all the visits, Stone Mountain, the Varsity, Mary Mac's Tea Room, The Fox, and many, many honky tonks and bars. I don't even remember where I was staying!
My visit now is ostensibly to visit the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, and perhaps a few of the nostalgic places like Merry Macs and The Varsity. And who knows, maybe I can?
From the Carter Library:
Shortly after taking office as President, Jimmy Carter expressed interest in building a Presidential Library “someplace in Georgia.” The National Archives and Records Administration was invited to establish an office in the Old Executive Building to be staffed by archivists who could advise the White House staff on the preservation and arrangement of the twenty-seven
million pages and other historical materials from the Carter presidency, prior to their movement to Georgia. As Carter’s presidency came to a close, a location search began for the Carter Library. After surveying a number of potential areas, today’s thirty-acre location was selected. The land, originally acquired to build an interstate highway, was owned by the state of Georgia. Ironically, the interstate plan was halted by then Governor Carter.
The Carter Presidential Library was built by Atlanta architectural firm, Jova/Daniels/Busby, in cooperation with Lawton/Umemura/Yamamoto of Hawaii who designed the structure. The facility includes the presidential library (donated to the federal government) and privately maintained spaces such as President Carter’s office, offices for foundations he supports, and The Carter Center of Emory University. The $26 million project, raised by donations from friends of President Carter from around the world, began with a ground breaking ceremony on October 2, 1984. The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum was dedicated during the museum opening on October 1, 1986.
While President Carter had his challenges as President, an outsider, form the south, he became a most admired and respect man after he left office. I wonder if we could ever elect a
person as worthy as Jimmy Carter again. Perhaps President Obama comes as close as in my opinion as a humanitarian, and as a man.
Surprisingly, Atlanta is a city of only about half a million people, yet is always considered the "jewel" or gateway of the south. Yet the metro area numbers around 6 million people. I will spare you the Scarlet stories, preferring to stay with Jimmy, Ted Turner, Dr. King, and Ralph Abernathy.
I had an opportunity to attend the Olympics here in 1996, but decided I could not handle the heat, hence the name, Hotlanta. And everyone knows the airport, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is one of the busiest in the world. My last time here, I was ushered to my plane in a wheel chair. I injured my calf muscle while playing tennis with a buddy, before heading to a business meeting in Orlando.
Having done most of the tourist attractions here, I will concentrate on the Carter Museum, and some nostalgia with Mary Macs and The Varsity. Speaking of Mary, she has been around for 70 years. Located on Ponce de Leon Avenue, it is an icon of southern dining room culture. I love using a little pencil to circle the food items on their thin paper menu. Welcome to overcooked veggies, jello with whipped cream, fried chicken, and mashed potatoes. Typical items are fried green tomatoes, pimento cheese, chicken livers, fried okra, and pan fried cube steak with brown onion gravy.
And maybe, just maybe, I will be able to find my old buddy, Ken Bob.
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