I drove into Plains and stopped at the Visitor's Center to find out what there was to see pertaining to the hometown of our 39th president, Jimmy Carter.
First of all I discovered that Plains has only 2 main streets so it was highly unlikely that I would get lost.
Next, I discovered that everywhere I went the people were as lovely and gracious as any I have found along the way--and they also seem to have all the time in the world to talk to me and tell me about 'their wonderful Jimmy.'
I heard that he was 'real', 'caring', 'friendly', 'a boyhood friend', 'a great family man', 'genuine', 'my neighbor'.....wait a minute! A neighbor? I had to ask, "Where do the Carters live now?" and I was told, "Just two blocks down the street."
"So, is he in town now?" I wondered.
"Yep, and if you just sit around awhile he'll probably stop by."
Well, sitting on one of those chairs and waiting for Jimmy to come strolling by seemed mighty inviting but I wanted to see more of his home town.
Right away I espied his brother's gas station. I remembered the hay-day of "Billy Beer" and all the jokes about Jimmy's crazy brother. Billy's gone now but I also remembered that Jimmy Carter never tried to dismiss or distance himself from his brother, no matter how crazy the incidents or the comments Billy made to the press. I always thought that was commendable. After all, we don't choose our relatives and we aren't responsible for them, even though we share some DNA. (My sisters say that about me all the time.) Besides, what could be harder than being the relative of a president? Ask Amy or Chelsea, the Bush twins. Or a few of Obama's relatives.
I found his high school and learned that it had been refurbished and made into a museum to honor the president.
There was no problem parking. There were only a couple of other tourists in the town. I was told that 'things have quieted down quite a bit the last few years.'
Excerpts from various brochures & pamphlets.....
(James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. served as the 39th President of the United States, was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, and was the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office. It was awarded for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.)
There was a replica of the desk in the oval office and I just had to try it out. I do look presidential, don't you think?
(The accomplishments of his administration included the Panama Canal treaties, the Camp David Accords, the treaty of peace between Egypt and Israel, the SALT II treaty with the Soviet Union, and the establishment of U.S. diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China. He championed human rights throughout the world. On the domestic side, the administration's achievements included a comprehensive energy program conducted by a new Department of Energy; deregulation in energy, transportation, communications, and finance; major educational programs under a new Department of Education; and major environmental protection legislation, including the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.)
However, the main focus of the museum is on the work he has done since leaving office:
I remember desks like these. The volunteer at the museum said most kids that see them think the hole in the desk is to hold the students drink.
Maranatha Baptist Church
I learned that he and his wife, Rosalynn, spend one week per year at Habitat for Humanity building homes, that he has written 27 books, and he teaches Sunday School when in town at Maranatha Baptist Church. One of the docents suggested I stay until Sunday and join his class. (Boy, that would have been a cool Blog entry! But I declined.)
And this is the farm where he grew up...
I always liked Jimmy Carter but I am most impressed with his achievements after leaving office. He has set a high standard for our other ex-presidents to follow--I just wish some of them would follow his example a little more.
This is the original farm house. I drove by the house they live in now and have lived in since 1961. It was impossible to take a picture, there is a fence and lots of vegetation around. But I saw a lot of cars in the drive--the kids and grandkids must be visiting.
"I am," he once wrote, "a Southerner and an American. I am a farmer, an engineer, a father and husband, a Christian, a politician and former governor, a planner, a businessman, a nuclear physicist, a naval officer, a canoeist and, among other things, a lover of Bob Dylan's songs and Dylan Thomas' poetry."
I think he is a pretty nice neighbor as well.
I wanted to visit the Carter Center in Atlanta but didn't get there.
The Carter Center is a nonpartisan and nonprofit Center that addresses national and international issues of public policy. The Carter Center fellows, associates, and staff join with President Carter in efforts to resolve conflict, promote democracy, protect human rights, and prevent disease and other afflictions.Through the Global 2000 programs, the Center advances health and agriculture in the developing world. It has spearheaded the international effort to eradicate Guinea worm disease, which will be the second disease in history to be eliminated.
President Carter and The Carter Center have engaged in conflict mediation in Ethiopia and Eritrea (1989), North Korea (1994), Liberia (1994), Haiti (1994), Bosnia (1994), Sudan (1995), the Great Lakes region of Africa (1995-96), Sudan and Uganda (1999), Venezuela (2002-2003), Nepal (2004-2008), and Ecuador and Colombia (2008). Under his leadership, The Carter Center has sent 91 election-monitoring missions to the Americas, Africa, and Asia. These include Panama (1989), Nicaragua (1990), Guyana (1992), China (1997), Nigeria (1998), Indonesia (1999), East Timor (1999), Mexico (2000), Guatemala (2003), Venezuela (2004), Ethiopia (2005), Liberia (2005), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (2006), Nepal (2008), Lebanon (2009), Sudan (2010), Tunisia (2011), and Egypt (2011-2012).