Last week I had a wonderful time on a visit to my friends Karen and Jeff Thomas in Atlanta, and while there, for the first time ever, I got the chance to visit a Presidential Museum. It was the Jimmy Carter Museum, and it was stunning!
While I wasn’t sure what to expect when I went in, I certainly was impressed by the time I emerged, after an entire day, since I arrived before it opened and left as it was about to close. It was so much fun to learn about Jimmy’s “Peanut Brigade” (he was a peanut farmer, for those who may be too young to remember) comprised of his wife, friends and family members who went door-to-door in states all over the country to help him win his party’s nomination, and once that was secured, get voted President.
But what I found especially wonderful was learning about all of the good that Jimmy Carter has done for poor people all over the world, particularly following his days as President, when he could have rested on his laurels but didn’t, is just plain amazing. In particular, I was very touched by the videos of his work at eradicating diseases in Africa. Fortunately this is one instance where a man’s good has been adequately rewarded by the world: Jimmy Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. It’s there on display. BRAVO!
My “hardest” task of that beautiful day at the museum was to decide on which of the many terrific books available in the Gift Shop I wanted to bring home with me. There were about six, and since I had arrived in Georgia with an already packed-to-the-rafters tote bag filled with clothes for the entire week, it would not have been a good idea to weigh it down further with more than one book. Besides, I can always buy more of them later. Ultimately I decided on “AWAY FROM HOME: Letters to My Family,” by Carter’s colorful and gutsy mother, Lillian, an RN, and his sister, Gloria Carter Spann. Remember the wonderful Miss Lillian? She joined the Peace Corps and went to India to help the poor. The letters to her family are from her two years there. They people she met can only have been enriched by her presence.
As for the book…it is hilarious! It’s one of the best reads I’ve ever had the privilege to enjoy, and I highly recommend it. Miss Lillian “tells it like it is” and pulls no punches, and the book has me on the floor. What an inspiration she is, too! No wonder her son grew up inspired to be a part of the solution to some of the world’s most challenging problems! And how positive it was, especially these days, to be in a place where the word “presidential” wasn’t a synonym for “controversial,” too. As one of my old teachers told me over Facebook, those days were such a different time…
I brought home a peanut to grow, too, from the gift shop, and a pair of earrings that were replicas of ones President Coolidge’s wife wore during the 1920s. They carry a line of replicas of presidential wives’ jewelry.
Next up, I want to read more of Jimmy Carter’s books, particularly “CHRISTMAS IN PLAINS.” I want to read several more of this President’s books as well. The more the rest of us can learn about the experiences of those who grow up to be great, the better!
If you’re going to be in Atlanta, this museum is well worth a visit. More information can be found here: http://www.jimmycarterlibrary.gov/. Meanwhile, here’s a sample of how fantastic the grounds of the Carter Museum and Library are – enjoy!