Sunday, May 17, 2015

Spring in the Deep South - Madison, part 2

At the end of April we took a little trip east of Atlanta.  In part 1 of this post, I showed where we stopped for lunch - the Blue Willow Inn in Social Circle.  Then we drove further on to another historic town called Madison.  Madison is in Morgan County, sixty miles east of Atlanta (half way between Atlanta and Augusta,) with a population of about 4,000.  It is a pretty town with many vintage houses.  One of its well-known citizens was Oliver Hardy of the comedy team Laurel and Hardy.

Oliver "Ollie" Hardy was born named Norvell Hardy in Harlem, Georgia (outside of Augusta, GA) on January 18, 1892.  His father, Oliver Hardy, a lawyer, had been wounded at the Battle of Antietam in 1862 and was a Confederate veteran.  In February 1892 the Hardy family moved 1 hour 30 minutes away to Madison, Georgia, where the father, Oliver, operated the Turnell-Butler Hotel (shown in postcard below.)  A few months later, in November 1892, Mr. Hardy died.  When Norvell became a comedian he took the name "Oliver" in honor of his father.  In 1927 Oliver Hardy (1892-1957) and Stan Laurel (1890-1965, born in Ulverston, Lancashire, England) started a comedy team.  They were very successful and made hundreds of films.  I remember my father, when I was a wee child in Paris, had bought a second-hand movie projector.  He would play Laurel and Hardy and Charlie Chaplin movies often to the joy of all our neighbors who came to watch them with us.  (Click on collage to enlarge.)

It took us about 30 minutes to drive to Madison.  I avoided the highway and took a small rural road where there was no traffic.  I took a picture through my windshield - there is a glass reflection though.

Earlier I had read that one of Madison's antebellum mansions could be visited but closed by 4 pm so we drove there presently.   The home is operated by the Friends of Heritage Hall and is open for tours, weddings and special events.  When we arrived a bus load of ladies was taking a tour of the house.  We sat in rocking chairs and waited.  As you can see in the picture below the house has four columns and two square piers on each side.  This is the only house like this in Madison.

When the tour group had left, a docent gave me a tour of the authentically decorated house - my husband decided to keep rocking on the front porch.  The house, known as the Jones-Turnell-Manley House, had been a private residence until 1977.  It was built in 1811 and purchased in 1830 by Confederate Dr. Elijah Evans Jones, a prominent physician in Madison.  He had been listed as a medical doctor at 22 years of age after one year in medical school.  There are photos of Dr. Jones and his wife Elizabeth in the foyer, and portraits made from these photos.  Under the photos is an ornate carved bench.  (Oops! you can see my reflection, taking the photo, in the mirror on the right.)

Above the piano was the portrait of a young lady with her hair parted 2 ways.  The docent explained that before the tradition of giving a diamond as an engagement ring - or when there were not enough funds - an engaged lady would part her hair this way to show that she was engaged.  The Jones daughters received diamond rings when they were engaged and to make sure they were real  they made etchings with them on the windows that can still be seen.

The first dining room was converted into a doctor's office.  Some pretty scary Confederate surgical tools are exposed on a table.  During the Civil War very little anesthesia was used during amputations.  Most men died from infections following the surgery.  On one side of the room is a cabinet containing a collection of fancy spittoons or cuspidors that were for the use of ladies.

The last private owner of the house was philanthropist Sue Reid Walton Manley.  A portrait of Sue in her wedding dress is above the mantel in the parlor.  Susan Reid Manley Law, her granddaughter, was married in the house and her portrait, in her wedding dress, is above the dining room mantel.  She inherited the Greek revival house and donated it to the Morgan Historical Society in 1977.

We walked upstairs to take a look at the bedrooms.  Some period clothes were exhibited.

The bedroom with the pink sofa and red carpet was redecorated for the 1994 TV movie "The Oldest Confederate Widow tells all" which was filmed in this house and in Madison.  One of the bedrooms is called "The Ghost Bedroom" as many visitors say they have seen the ghost of Dr. Jones' previous wife, Virginia.  You can read a report on this phenomenon here.

The docent explained that Madison was not burned during the Civil War because Joshua Hill (1812-1891,) a Georgia Congressman, had been a strong Unionist and refused to vote for secession - he resigned his seat in protest.  He was also a friend of General William Tecumseh Sherman's brother and thus the town was spared from Sherman's "March to the Sea."  When Georgia was readmitted to the United States in 1871, Joshua Hill became a US Senator for the State of Georgia.  As the tour ended I returned to the front porch and rested on a rocking chair next to my husband.

We drove to our Bed and Breakfast called The Brady Inn.   The Brady Inn is located in town in an 1885 Victorian house.  There are vintage photographs of Patrick Henry Brady and his wife Austria in the foyer.  There is a long wraparound porch with rocking chairs.  All rooms are decorated with period antiques.  We slept in the Annex, in the "Frances Brady" room which opens to the breezeway porch - the beds were most comfortable.  Breakfast the next morning included cream cheese stuffed French toast with peach compote, scrambled eggs and bacon.  The coffee was good.

Next morning when we left my husband said goodbye to the B&B cat, Brady.  We drove to the Madison Square.

We parked close to the Morgan Court House and walked around.  The Court House is in the neoclassical revival style and is dominated by a large and almost square dome.  It has been described as "one of the most unusual site orientations for a court house and an excellent example of Beaux Arts design."  It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

We stepped into the Madison-Morgan Welcome Center.  It used to be Madison's City Hall and Fire Station.  The original fire bell is in the building cupola.  The lady inside the tourist office gave us a postcard, maps and a self-guided tour brochure of Madison.  She told us that the city was established in 1809 as a stagecoach stop and has one of the largest historic districts in Georgia with most historic buildings completed between 1830 and 1860.  She mentioned that Madison had been the location for numerous movies such as:  In the Heat of the Night, I'll Fly Away, Greased Lightning, The Oldest Living Confederate Widow tells all, My Cousin Vinny,  Footloose, Vampire Diaries, Halloween II, Warm Springs, The Odd Life of Timothy Green, Goosebumps, Selma   and more.  Below is the postcard and writing on the back.

Armed with our paper guide, we drove slowly around the historic district streets, stopping to take pictures, read the numerous historic markers and to walk a bit. The Stage Coach House (center below) was built in 1810 and is one of the oldest houses there.  It was an inn originally, when Old Post Road was part of the stagecoach route between Charleston and New Orleans.

The Church of the Advent was constructed in 1842 as a Methodist Church and purchased in 1960 by the Episcopalians.  The church organ is now housed in the original slave gallery.  Across the road is "Boxwood" a Greek revival house which cannot be seen from the road.  A gardener was cutting the boxwood and invited us in.  There were many English and American boxwood bushes and flowers - I just took one picture of iris, not to intrude. (Click on collage twice to read the signs.)

Just around the corner is Joshua Hill's Home, built in 1835.  When General Slocum, of General Sherman's Union Army, came downtown Madison in November 1864, Senator Joshua Hill rode out to meet him with a delegation of men.  He reminded Slocum of the gentlemen's agreement not to burn Madison on their march from Atlanta to Savannah.  The town and buildings survived.  Below is the facade of the house and the swimming pool in the back.

As we drove away on South Main Street we went by a dilapidated High Victorian style house.  It is the Forster-Thomason-Miller house, built in 1883.  I understand this house has been for sale for a long time.  When it was built it was known as the most elegant country home in Middle Georgia.  The house has 5,000 s. ft. with 5 bedrooms, 8 fireplaces with 14 ft ceilings on 11+ acres.  I saw pictures of its interior in a magazine published prior to the fire.  The rooms were furnished with antiques.  But everything is gone now as it suffered a fire in 2001.  The house is waiting for someone to bring it back to its former elegance.

Our last stop was at the Hunter House.  It was built in 1883 by John Hudson Hunter for his wife Ida Clark Hunter when they married.  The house is still in the same family.  This is the most photographed home in Madison and is known as the Gingerbread House.  All the millwork, interior and exterior, was locally made.  My photo at the top of this post is taken from the side of the house looking toward the spindle-work porch.

John Hudson Hunter was a rich furniture emporium and drugstore owner in Madison.  His children Mamie and Nathan inherited the home and Nathan's wife Evelyn lived in the house until she passed away in 2010 at the age of 103 years old.  At present the house is being restored by her granddaughters.  Below are pictures of John and Ida, John and his children and Evelyn at 102 in 2010. 

It had been a pleasant trip, with sunny weather, not too warm or humid.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Spring in the Deep South, part one

Our winter was very mild this year - just one day of snow, hardly any ice and then it was spring.  When our azalea shrubs started blooming I took several pictures of them using 3 different cameras.  Our pink and white azaleas were given to me in small pots, as a gift years ago, when I had been sick.  They are now taller than me.

In April 2009 a swarm of bee settled in the pink azalea bush.  A beekeeper came and removed them.

The red azalea bush also came from a very small pot.  The flowers are larger than those in the two other azalea bushes and since it is just outside our kitchen window its bright blooms bring cheer to the kitchen.  It is even more colorful when the yellow finch family living in our yard comes to our birdfeeder.

As soon as our houseplants were placed outside, tiny red flowers appeared on one of them.  We also started some sweet basil and a heliotrope plant.

On April 1st, we visited the Smith-Gilbert Gardens close to our house.  Daffodils and camellias were still blooming then.  There were some other pretty flowers whose names I do not know.  (Click on collage to enlarge.)

It is always such a pleasure walking in these gardens - so peaceful, with hardly anyone during the week.

A stop at the koi pond is always fun.

That week a Russian pianist, now living in Atlanta, gave a recital.  Her name is Dr. Elena Dorozhkina.  She started to learn piano at the age of 5.  Before moving to the U.S., Elena earned two Bachelors and Master degrees in piano performance, collaborative arts, pedagogy, voice and choral conducting from the St. Petersburg, Russia, Rimsky-Korsakov State Conservatory.  It was difficult taking her picture as her hands moved very fast.

On the program that day she played some Beethoven, Prokofiev, Debussy, Scriabin, Liszt and Chopin.  I tried to make a video with my camera when she played Chopin's Waltz in D-flat major, Op. 64, No. 1, also known as The Minute Waltz, although it takes a bit longer than one minute to play it.  I hope I can place it on this post.  ---- I tried to attach my video, but it said "error" so I'll find another pianist on YouTube playing this piece so you can see how fast the hands have to move to play it.  Below it is played by Valentina Lisitsa, and Ukrainian-American pianist residing in North Carolina.

I used the photos I took of Elena during her performance to play with them with my new cell phone app.  You can see the results below.

Rainy weather came the following fifteen days, as well as thunderstorms and some tornadoes.  I looked at the weather forecast every morning to see if two days of sunny weather were coming up.  Finally two days of full sun were forecast, this last Tuesday April 21 and also April 22. We went on a little trip east of Atlanta.  First we stopped at my husband's former firm.  When he retired he left behind a lovely quilt that his cousin had made for him so we picked it up.  You can see it below.  Since my husband was working for a wildlife and conservation organization, the quilt shows wild animals in the dark material.  A variety of nature and outdoor life motifs were embroidered in the light squares.

For a late lunch, we drove a bit further east to the small town of Social Circle, Georgia.  There is a well-known inn there called The Blue Willow Inn.  It features traditional Southern cuisine.  On the Web, Yelp, urbanspoon, tripadvisor and roadfood give the inn from 4 1/2 to 5 stars for their food.  The inn is located in a 1917 neoclassical Greek revival mansion with a wide portico porch supported by four fluted columns with Corinthian capitals.

Lunch came with a choice of iced tea, homemade lemonade or coffee.  Before choosing food from the buffet, I took several pictures.

As you can see above, there was a lot of choices: baked ham, chicken livers, fried chicken, roast beef and gravy, chicken and dumplings, baked salmon, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, corn, green beans, creamed potatoes, black-eyed peas, sweet potato soufflé, fried green tomatoes and chutney, rice, lima beans, tomatoes and okra, buttermilk biscuits, corn bread muffins as well as a salad bar.  I tried to take just a little bit of several items but my plate was very full. I could not finish it.  My husband's plate was quite full too.

Did you know that fried green tomatoes were a Native American dish?  They introduced it to the colonists who exported it to Europe.  The Catholic Church had banned eating ripe tomatoes because they felt that the skin of a ripe tomato had the texture of human skin and believed it was an aphrodisiac ... Then I took a look at the dessert buffet while my husband was finishing his plate.

I passed the peanut pie, strawberry shortcake, lemon meringue pie, apple pie, chess pie, spiced muffins, Blue Willow squares, brownies, coconut layer cake, peach cobbler and settled for a thin slice of chocolate cake and a small piece of pecan pie - but could not finish either.

There are several cookbooks from the inn, the latest is called The Blue Willow Inn Cookbook and is in paperback I think.  Mine, bought second-hand, is the 2005 edition of the Blue Willow Inn Bible of Southern Cooking, with 600 recipes.

The inn is named for the china pattern "Blue Willow."  A collection of dishes in that pattern is exhibited throughout the house.  The mansion, decorated with antique furniture, accessories and beautiful crystal chandeliers is a perfect background for a leisurely lunch.

After lunch we stopped briefly by the front porch and sat in rocking chairs close to rhododendrons in full bloom.  

It was such a beautiful warm and sunny day that we hated to leave.  We slowly toured the garden, passing the elegant three-tiered fountain and the little garden statues.

Across the street is another impressive mansion, not quite as large as the Blue Willow Inn.

Later on I found out that this mansion was built for Sanders Upshaw in 1916.  His older brother, John, decided to have a pillared mansion built for his wife Bertha, and to have it constructed directly across the street.  In 1917, as a friendly rivalry with his brother Sanders, John Upshaw built his stately mansion larger and grander (which has been the Blue Willow Inn since 1991.)  First, John Upshaw had to have a two-story Victorian cottage built in 1899 moved to the side of his lot.  The name "Upshaw" sounded familiar to me, so I researched it on the Web.  The first husband of Margaret Mitchell, the author of Gone with the Wind, was named Red Upshaw.  Below is Margaret Mitchell with Red Upshaw and underneath, Margaret as a flapper in the 1920s.  (Courtesy Atlanta History Center.)

It turns out that Red was a cousin of John Upshaw.  While Margaret and Red were courting, Margaret would come to Social Circle and stay overnight in John Upshaw's relocated Victorian cottage.  Margaret did marry Berrien "Red" Upshaw on September 2, 1922.  The best man was Red's roommate, John Marsh. By December 1922 the marriage was over because of Red' drinking and violent temperament.  The divorce was final in 1924 and Margaret wed John Marsh on July 4, 1925.  Margaret Mitchell used Red Upshaw as the character basis for Rhett Butler in her novel Gone with the Wind.  Below is Margaret and Red Upshaw on their wedding day.  Red is 5th from the left, Margaret is next to him.  John Marsh, best man, is 2nd from the left. (Courtesy Atlanta History Center.)

I selected 3 photos to use with my cell phone apps - the watercolor and the paint apps.  Below are the original photos, then the way they look after going through my apps.

We drove on further east to another historic Georgia town - Madison, Georgia ... to be continued in part 2.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Recollection - an unexpected stop in Uzbekistan, Central Asia

Readers who have been following my blog for a while know that I left Paris in the 1960s to travel to the USA and then stayed in San Francisco after I was married there.  I returned to Paris for a visit almost every year until my father passed away in 1974.  Then I journeyed home more often as my mother was stricken with Parkinson's disease.  I would go off-season, in the fall and spring and even, if I had some vacation time, during the winter holidays.  I would sometimes stop on my way to Paris or would go on a tangent to see some other cities, such as London, Amsterdam, or Brussels, etc.  I also took advantage of special French travel promotions for trips from Paris, such as Marrakesh, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria.  I had a film camera and did not take many pictures - usually I would buy postcards.  Below is a photo I took of an island in Greece (could be Mykonos?) and the small aircraft that took me to another Greek Island, Chios.  The aircraft was so small that the pilot, who had entered through the back stairs, had to step over my knees to enter the cockpit - I was sitting in the first left-side front seat ...

In the fall of 1990 I had bought my ticket on Delta to visit my mother in Paris during the winter holidays.  Then I heard an ad from Delta, advertizing a special with Singapore Airlines as an "add-on" to a regular booked trip.  For about an extra $400 I could go round-trip from Paris to Singapore with two free stops.  I jumped at that, adding some vacation time and deciding that my stops would be Bangkok, Thailand and Jakarta, Indonesia.  From Jakarta I booked an Indonesian airline flight to the island of Bali with a stop in Yogyakarta to visit the Buddhist Borobudur Temple.  (I took film photographs and will have posts on these stops in the future.)  From Singapore I took a one-day excursion to Johore Bahru, Malaysia, visiting a typical food market, an artist studio and the famous Sultan Abu Bakar State Mosque - see my film pictures below.

I had reserved my return trip home for January 14, 1991, as I knew that the Gulf War - Desert Storm - would start on January 15 or thereabout.  My Singapore Airlines flight left late on the 14th so I still had a full day to tour the city.  It was very warm and humid - 95 degrees F or more (35 C.)  I remember that I had packed my coat for my arrival in Atlanta and was just wearing a white tee-shirt, white trousers and sneakers.  This was to be a non-stop 13 1/2 hour flight to Paris.  Then another 10 hours to fly from Paris to Atlanta.  We left on time, were given a snack and then the lights were deemed.  The plane was full - it was a Boeing Jumbo Jet, the 747 double deck aircraft with 500 + passengers.  (Below is a similar aircraft, courtesy Wikipedia Commons.)

After several hours most people were asleep.  The passengers were a mixture of tour groups, Japanese, French retirees, Italians, and other nationalities.  I woke up as the flight attendants were walking up and down the aisles very quickly, and noticed smoke in the air.  Just then a bell was heard and the captain spoke in English on the loudspeaker, saying that we had to get prepared for an emergency landing as there was a fire in the cargo.  He added that we were over mountains with no airport and that he would do his utmost to fly north a bit farther for a safe landing.  The man next to me woke up.  We looked at the map trying to find out where we were.  We figured out by flight time that we were over Afghanistan.  He introduced himself as an engineer from Aerospatiale (at the time a French state-owned aerospace manufacturer.)  The flight attendants were gone, people were getting very agitated, some started praying aloud, children were screaming, and we could see more smoke.  I felt funny really - not wanting to think that we may crash.  I translated for the French retirees around me, telling them what was happening, and then we waited.

The aircraft was going down; people started shouting for some reason.  The engineer next to me advised that I should take my pillow and place it around my head for protection.  He added that if and when we landed oxygen entering the aircraft could provoke an explosion and if so to start running ... but we landed, the engines were turned off.  Everything was black outside but we could see snow and some aircraft, far off in the distance.  Since I had taken some language course I realized that it was Russian.  The word "Аэрофлот" in Russian which means Aeroflot was painted on the parked aircraft.  Where were we?  Somewhere in the Soviet Union we guessed, but where?  After about 1/2 hour or so some vehicles with blue lights sped toward us.  We were told buses would be coming shortly.  They did and everyone deplaned.  Since I was wearing a short sleeve tee-shirt and it was cold I picked up a blanket from the aircraft to wrap around my shoulders.  It turned out that we were at the Tashkent airport in Uzbekistan, Central Asia. (300 miles from Afghanistan.)

We were brought into a large hall and told to wait for the airport manager who had been awaken.  It must have been around 2 or 3 am local time.  The manager arrived and spoke in English.  He told us that our aircraft could not fly out safely anymore and that we had to stay in Tashkent.  Customs Declaration Forms were given to us to fill as temporary visas and we had to give our passports.  I gave my French passport as it is safer to travel as a French citizen than a US one.  (Later we were told no US citizens had been on board ...) Below are pictures I took of us waiting at the airport and the airport itself.

 Buses took us to a huge hotel where I was paired with a young Japanese lady because she spoke Italian (and I do too) and we went to sleep.  Next morning we had breakfast in a large room, similar to an institution hall (dark bread and weak coffee or tea.)  The architecture was pure Soviet.  The staff was very friendly though.

The passengers were told to queue up to make a call home - "the waiting will be long" they said.  Some made arrangements to get away to other cities then on to Paris.  But I was flying to Atlanta.  I decided not to call home since it was still night time in Georgia.  I would try to call later.  Wearing my white outfit with my aircraft lavender blanket I decided to take a walk and look at the city.  It was quite cold.  There was a large park nearby so I walked there.  People passed me then stopped and stared - I certainly was not the type of person to see on a winter day in Tashkent! I found some old photos you can see below and a postcard - photo of hotel front door with some passengers, a large building close by, a postcard of a street near the hotel, and me in the park near a big sculpture.

Most people looked Asians to me, wearing heavy dark coats and fur hats.  I went back into the hotel to see if I could find a hat.  I found one at the gift shop, a nutria fur hat, bought it and went back outdoors.  Now I looked very eccentric with my white outfit, lavender blanket and black fur hat.  I still have the hat but don't wear it often as it is not cold enough in Georgia.  I just took its picture but it is difficult to see.  I checked on eBay and found the exact same hat - they are asking $140 for it! Mine was $40 I recall and thought it was outrageous.

I bought some postcards then but have misplaced them.  But below are some vintage postcards of Tashkent, and a 1980 view of my hotel lobby.  The top picture at the center is a sculpture called "Courage" commemorating the victims of the 1966 earthquake that destroyed 36,000 houses and left 300,000 homeless in Tashkent.  (Click on collage to enlarge.)

In the early evening I called my office (Georgia is 9 hours behind Tashkent.)  At first my boss refused the call when they said "call from the USSR" thinking it was a joke.  I told the operator to give out my name.  That time he answered and asked "what in the h*** are you doing there?"  I finally explained and asked him to call my husband in the evening, at home, to tell him not to worry; I just would arrive a couple of days late.  I was in Uzbekistan in January 1991 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union happened on December 26, 1991.  See map below.

Uzbekistan has a long history.  People have settled there for centuries.  The Great Silk Road that connected Asia and Europe went through the historic cities of Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva and Shash (modern Tashkent.)  This contributed to the development of Central Asia.  When the Soviet power was proclaimed in 1917 Uzbekistan started a guerrilla war to stay independent but in 1924 the Red Army was victorious.  In 1924 the country became the Uzbek SSR, within the Soviet Union.  After the large earthquake of 1966 which destroyed the major part of the old city of Tashkent, the Soviet rebuilt it with USSR architects in the current style of the period.  The Republic of Uzbekistan was proclaimed as an independent state after the collapse of the USSR.  It became a member of the UN in 1992.  The distance from Singapore to Tashkent is 3,491.1 miles or 5618.4 kilometers.  The distance from Tashkent to Moscow, Russia is 1734 miles or 2790.6 km - which is more than Columbus, Ohio to Salt Lake City (1711 miles.)  The Tashkent population in 2012 was 2.3 million people.  Uzbekistan is well known for its craftsmen working with wood, cooper, jewelry, fabric and more. 

The passengers in the hotel were not looking very happy and some had already left on flights to Moscow.  I went to get a hot cup of tea and joined another passenger who was holding a cup.  He was also wearing a white suit and was from Australia.  He said that he had found out that there was a disco at the hotel that served better food than we had been given and asked if I wanted to join him to investigate.  Sure, I was ready for some dancing (I was happy to be alive.)  So we went to the disco, ate some interesting food and danced.  I forgot his name but he was a good dancer.  He took my photo - here it is below - still wearing my white Thai tee-shirt.

The next day an empty Singapore Airlines aircraft had arrived and I flew in it to Paris, then on Delta to Atlanta.  A year later, I told a foreign airport employee who was touring our plant in Georgia about my stop in Tashkent.  She replied that she remembered the incident well since the airline had flown her to Tashkent from her home in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, to be a translator for the passengers stranded at the hotel (small world after all.)  All this happened a long time ago but I thought someday my grandchildren might find interesting to learn how their grandmother came to visit the USSR.  The photo below is the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Tashkent.  It was built in 1902-1905 and survived the 1966 earthquake.  At the top of this post I show this same cathedral after I worked on it with my new cell phone app.

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