Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Vintage Georgia ... and current events

Last October as I kept cleaning the Georgia house garage I found many old things, toys, games, dishes, books, magazines, etc.  I even wrote a post on it called "old magazines, old memories..."  Last December I was there again cleaning a bit more of the old stuff.  Actually, I should call it "vintage," it does sound better.  And by the way, the etymology of the word "vintage" is French.  It was used as early as the 15th century meaning vendange or wine harvest. Although now vintage also means something from an earlier generation.  There were some old wine bottles in the garage but mostly just vintage stuff.  It was slow going as I would stop and look at the magazines.

Sometimes I came upon items long forgotten, that I did not know even existed anymore.  I found some old paintings I had done as a teenager.  My mother must have sent them to me ages ago and I put them in the garage instead of throwing them away, so should I keep them now?

Then I found the old, I mean vintage, items from the Jimmy Carter for President Campaign.  That stopped me and I reminisced for a while.  We had moved to Georgia in 1973 because of Jimmy Carter.  I wrote about it briefly in my post Bird Drawings from Sir Peter Shepheard in January 2011.  As I said in that post my husband had finished his Master's Degree in Environmental Planning and spent a couple of summers working for his professor Ian McHarg's office as a river planner.  My husband received three job offers, one from San Diego, California, one from Arizona and one from Georgia.  He decided to take the offer made by Governor Jimmy Carter.  The position had the lowest pay but the project sounded the most challenging.  My husband was not materialistic, just interested in helping the environment, nature and the country.  Of course I was not very pleased about moving to Georgia instead of going back to California or even to Paris where my father had offered to buy us an apartment.  But we moved to Atlanta in 1973 and he started working at the GA Capitol.  Below are two 1970s vintage postcards of Atlanta.

In the early 1970s the US Congress had funded a project for the US Corps of Engineers to build a dam at the Sprewell Bluff of the Flint River, 50 miles south of Atlanta.  Jimmy Carter, Governor of Georgia at the time, did not approve of this project.  The Flint River is one of only 40 rivers in the nation to flow more than 200 miles (320 km) unimpeded by dams or other man made systems. Gov. Carter needed a thorough technical study to back up his objections.  My husband Jim had been hired to do this study.  He assembled a team and worked tirelessly for several months, driving back and forth to the Flint River. His finished study was handed to Governor Carter who was able with it to veto the controversial dam.  Governor Carter tore apart the Corps economic justification for the dam and accused them of ignoring the environment.  The end of his 18-page letter said that he was opposed to the construction of unwarranted dams and other projects at public expense.  And so the Flint River was able to run free and we stayed in Georgia.  Below are photos of the Flint River and of the Flint River at Sprewell Bluff.

Not long ago on a Georgia boating site on the Web I read this:  "Once threatened by a hydro-power dam, this section of the Flint has been preserved and once you've paddled it, you'll shout a big thank you to the many advocates who fought to save the Flint River in the 1970s."  I smiled as I knew an advocate who worked long and hard to have the Flint River run wild and free.  Now Sprewell Bluff has been made into a park called The Sprewell Bluff State Recreation Area.  It is a peaceful and natural area, with wildflowers (like the endangered spider lily,) wildlife and a regular stop for migratory songbirds.  It really is one of the most scenic rivers of Georgia.  It is popular with fishermen, hikers, kayakers and white water rafters.

When Governor Jimmy Carter decided to run for the office of President of the United States I offered to volunteer to help with the campaign.  I was not a US citizen yet and did not belong to any political party but whether he was a democrat or a republican I was going to canvas for him.  In the 1970s I was astounded that a governor would have refused a $133 million funded project ($775 million in 2020 money) because it would harm the environment, it was unheard of.  I wrote to tell him.  He answered and thanked me and I received several posters, buttons, tee-shirts, etc.  There were some left in the garage (and his letter is somewhere in the house.)

After traveling to Alaska in the summer of 2009 I wrote a post on Denali National Park.  In it I mentioned that President Carter in 1980 had again helped the environment.  He had signed an act that added millions of acres to the US wilderness system (8 million to the national forests, 56 millions to wildlife refuge and 44 millions to national park.)  You can read it here Alaska Trip - Denali National Park.  Later, as my husband and I were driving to Plains where Jimmy Carter lives, I printed a copy of my blog post and mailed it to him.  He replied and thanked me.  This is also somewhere in the GA house.  This is why I am trying to sort everything carefully.  We visited the farm in Plains where Jimmy Carter grew up and I took many photos for a future post.

I had been sad when President Carter had run for a second term and lost.  He had lost mostly because the voters had punished him for having been unsuccessful in releasing the US hostages kept in Iran.  On the Internet lately I read reports showing that Republican Candidate Ronald Reagan had colluded with the Ayatollah Khomeini (enemy of the US) to delay the release of the US hostages in Iran until after the presidential election.  He had offered them weapons, parts and money (like later in the Iran-Contra affair?).  That would explain why it was minutes after Ronald Reagan's presidential inauguration that the Iran hostages were released (how could he have negotiated that in several minutes from the podium?  Before becoming president he had not been supposed to have contacts or have any dealings with a foreign government...)

I kept going through boxes of papers, studies, notepads, etc.  Most needed to be thrown out.  Then I came upon a pad hardly used.  I threw away the first few pages, but the next page was a letter my husband had written to President Jimmy Carter around 1981.  It had been in the garage for 39 years.  What should I do?  Throw it away?  It had been meant for President Carter so once back in Nashville on December 28 I mailed it to him, explaining where I had found it.  I wished him and his wife Rosalynn a Happy New Year and that was that.  In February after returning from Georgia I was surprised to find a letter from President Carter in the mail.  At first I thought it was an ad and was going to throw the letter away, but then I saw the seal.  I was dumbfounded really that he would have answered me.  It is below with part of my husband's letter.  (Click on collage to enlarge.)

While traveling back and forth to Georgia I was also checking travel sites on the Internet.  In the fall my daughter had suggested that for my birthday in March we needed to go on a week to 10-day trip somewhere nice.  At first I refused because I needed to keep working on the house.  She insisted saying that since my other daughter's wedding in California in 2016 I had not been anywhere.  Because of being my husband's caregiver 24/7 until his death I could not step away.  I researched several places - New Zealand, New Caledonia, Uruguay, Guadeloupe and Argentina, settling on Argentina.  In January my daughter told me that we should not travel overseas.  So I said why don't we go to Miami where I have never been.  I was surprised when she said "may be" as she had insisted so much that we should travel.

In February my daughter said that we should forget a trip altogether.  Why, I asked.  She replied because of the novel coronavirus.  But it's in China I said, and if it came to the US the CDC would take care of it for sure.  She told me that the current CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta) is not our cousin Lyle's old CDC.  In an earlier post, 10 Year Blog Anniversary, I had mentioned that my husband's first cousin Lyle, now retired, had spent his career there as an epidemiology physician traveling and fighting diseases all over the planet.  My daughter is also a physician and in addition has a Master's Degree in public health.  In fact, in 2018 President Trump had ordered such drastic cuts to the global health section of the CDC that most of the staff had been laid off.  He also closed the White House pandemic office (he needed to find the funds to build his great big beautiful wall.)  The CDC new director is a Trump political appointee with little public health expertise.  My daughter was worried that mistakes would be made and thought we were heading toward a national health crisis.  I thought she exaggerated.  Below is a photo of the entrance to the CDC and a photo of cousin Lyle (in center) being honored as the 2014 recipient of the Stephen B. Thacker Excellence Award.

In late February my son-in-law was driving to Atlanta.  I rode with him and spent a week in the Georgia house.  I was happy to go because in early March Bulloch Hall in Roswell was hosting its annual quilt show featuring 182 quilts this year.  I was looking forward to attend the show.  I texted my daughter that I was going to the show - "no, no, she replied, you can't go where there are crowds in a small house."  I thought she was over protective but reluctantly I agreed and did not go.  Then two days later the first known case of Covid-19 in Georgia, the new name for the novel coronavirus, happened in my town in Cobb County.  Below is the 2020 quilt that was raffled at the show.  I did attend the 2019 quilt show and will have a post on it.

Last fall in Georgia I had bought cleaning wipes, rubber gloves and masks to clean the dust and dirt in the garage, as pictured in the heading collage.  I didn't know I would have to bring them back to Nashville for my own safety!  Now that I have been isolated in my house for 15 days I have had time to research the history of Covid-19.  I read many newspapers, mostly foreign (French, UK, Irish, Belgian, Swiss, etc.) to get neutral opinions.  I also like to read actual quotes and watch news videos.  China informed the World Health Organization in late December 2019 that a new coronavirus was spreading rapidly within and out of China.  Taiwan being so close to China started emergency health measures immediately and as of today, March 31, 2020, counts only 322 cases and 5 deaths in a population of about 24 millions.  Everyone has to wear a mask.  Photo below of Taipei, Taiwan (courtesy ABC News.)  I'd like to add that the CDC refused the WHO tests and made their own.  They were faulty, couldn't be used and resulted in much delay.

 The United States meanwhile has the worst virus outbreak in the world.  As of today, March 31, 2020 there are 185,200 cases and 3,815 deaths.  Last February President Trump refused to let Dr. Anthony Fauci speak publicly without approval or warn the public about the virus.  Then he downplayed the virus and refused to have aggressive testing made "The President had made clear - the lower the number of coronavirus, the better for the president, the better for his potential re-election this fall."  Many people heard him take no responsibility and early on say that the virus would be gone shortly "it will disappear, like a miracle."  The Boston Globe wrote that the president has "blood on his hands" because "much of the suffering and death coming was preventable."  Now he is telling Vice President Mike Pence to shun certain states from Democratic governors that he does not like.  This is a colossal failure in leadership that the American public is paying for.  I saw an older woman on TV - her husband was in hospital in a coma in the ICU.  She kept saying "but we watched Fox News and were told the virus was a liberal hoax to hurt our president ... that we could go out ... I don't understand..."  Fox News (that calls itself Fair and Balanced) is a scourge to the low information (low education and high religiosity) people who watch it.  Fox News is not authorized to air in France or the UK.  (It has been banned as propaganda media.)  So instead of celebrating my birthday in Buenos Aires or Montevideo I was in my kitchen alone with my cat.  But I made a New England dinner and a small French chocolate cake.  Before I blew off the one candle I had found, my daughters and families sung Happy Birthday to me via our cell phones Face Time.  We had waited for my son-in-law to come back from hospital (cautiously he does not come home any longer.)  He is an anesthesiologist physician and very exposed.  I am worried for him as he anesthetizes patients when tubes are placed into their lungs, when they are at their most contagious.  He has very little protective supplies left.  Still it was a nice birthday, in isolation ...


Z said...

That is a great post, thank you. I hope your son-in-law will be okay and glad you had a pleasant birthday. My eldest granddaughter was 15 a couple of weeks ago, and had a rather dull time, I suppose, though she sounded cheerful.

DJan said...

Wow. I am so impressed with the difference you and your family have made in the world. Jimmy Carter should have been reelected, I voted for him. And I am so glad you listened to your daughter and didn't get exposed to the virus. I believe my husband is recovering from it, but we won't know for sure because there still isn't testing. I am afraid that these people in power will try to cancel the election. I hope I am just being an alarmist. Thank you for this incredible blog post, VB.

Vicki Lane said...

We are living in interesting times. We too had masks and gloves on hand due to cleaning projects. We have given most of these to my daughter in law, the nurse, as her employers don't have enough on hand,

I can imagine how emotionally wearing it must be going through so many memories -- thank you for sharing these treasures with us.

Thérèse said...

Je pense bien fort à ton gendre, il est ajouté à la liste des personnes de nos connaissances "blouses blanches" à qui nous pensons plus spécialement à 20h chaque soir lorsque nous sortons devant notre maison, moi du balcon, ma moitié d'en bas, pour faire tinter notre petite cloche et taper discrètement sur une casserole avec une cuillère en bois pendant trois minutes. Il faut tenir c'est le plus important. Nous nous estimons chanceux ici.
Fais bien attention à toi.

Nadezda said...

Dear Vagabonde,
I am glad to read your optimistic post and that you are healthy. How many interesting vintage things you found while sorting the garage. Of course, many of them carry memories, many things have accumulated over a long life.
Your family has an interesting relationship with President Carter. It’s good that your daughter correctly said that you won’t go traveling this year. Everywhere sick people, a virus that is dangerous for people of our age.
Quarantine was announced in St. Petersburg and all those over 65 stay at home. Food can be ordered home delivery if people are single.
Take care of yourself!

Jeanie said...

I'm not sure I have words. Every post you write blows me away. You have us lulled into memories (of my favorite president, no less -- lucky you!) and then we are sharply pulled back into the realities of life. Your daughter was so wise. I know it wasn't the birthday you hoped for but perhaps it is the birthdays that will lead to many more to come. I hope so.

My heart and prayers go to your son in law and that he (and all your family) will emerge from this emotionally battered but alive and well. (I've canceled this fall's England trip. If I go anywhere for the next few months, it will be the lake.)

David said...

Hi Vagabonde, First of all "Happy Birthday"! Sorry you had to spend it alone...and that trip to Argentina (in normal times) would have been amazing. As for our political leaders, I tend to be conservative but in this instance, the response by the President and several conservative governors, including Tennessee's, have been inconsistent and lacking truly aggressive measures to contain Covid-19. Your daughter may have saved you with her insistence that you skip the quilt show.

We are on our 18th day of self-isolation with 8 cases of Covid-19 in our county. We miss our son and his family as well as our extended families but such is life. Fortunately, we still like each other after almost 42 years!

I'm not much of a conspiracy theory fan or believer, which ever side of the political spectrum they come from. I spend a lot of time debunking right wing 'fake news'. I would note that the Iran hostages were formally released into United States custody the day after the signing of the Algiers Accords...which happened to be right after Reagan was sworn in. Those negotiations were underway under President Carter's administration and had little or nothing to do with Reagan's Presidency...although many give him undeserved credit. Carter has turned out to be a great ex-President, probably the best in the last 100 years.

I am a moderate who is environmentally aware and I deplore the actions taken or not taken by the government in the last couple of years. Kudos to your husband for his role in preserving the Flint River flowage!

Our Covid-19 numbers here in the USA are indeed deplorable, but if the world accepts China's or Russia's numbers as fact, they are engaged in smoking some funny weed! Much of the rest of the world outside of North America, Europe, a couple of middle eastern and South American Countries, plus Singapore, Australia and New Zealand have no idea, will to understand or the capacity to measure their Covid-19 problems. In any case, the world is in trouble and without effective palliative treatments and a vaccine, we'll be struggling for the foreseeable future.

Wishing the best for your family and special thanks to your son-in-law for his front line efforts and the family's sacrifices. Stay Well and Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Divers and Sundry said...

I loved hearing all about your connection to Jimmy Carter. He is an inspiration for us all. The coronavirus has been scary. We needed more people like your daughter sounding the alarm. I'm sorry your birthday wasn't what you had hoped, but I'm happy you're safe.

I agree with David that our governor's response is lacking aggressiveness to say the least. Our county in TN has 3 deaths so far, and testing is revealing more cases every day. What a tragic state of affairs we have in our country today :(

Shammickite said...

USA seems to be in a great deal of trouble under Trump's leadership. And this is just the start. I believe things will get much worse.
Here in Canada we are struggling with the deaths, and the pressure on our hospital and care workers, and a sad lack of PPE and equipment. Just like the rest of the world.
Thank you to all the front line workers who are keeping the world moving at the moment.

Roderick Robinson said...

We must be telepathic. I read this post of yours some time ago and intended to respond on the subject of Jimmy Carter. Then it slipped my mind. Now you've responded to my most recent recent post on Tone Deaf just as I remembered.

I remember Carter quite well. I thought he may have been the most decent President the US has had in recent times. And your reminiscnces seem to confirm this. But, alas, I concluded that decency alone wasn't enough. Much of what a president does is in secret and for that it's necessary to be sly.

The most telling remark on this "slyness" was made - almost accidentally - by Alexander Haig, the US secretary of State at the time Britain was involved in the 1982 war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands. Our equivalent secretary of state - we call them Foreign Secretary - was Lord Carrington, a rare man of principle who resigned voluntarily after the war because he was dissatisfied with his handling of the events. Carrington and Haig were involved in various secret discussions and afterwards Haig bitterly described Carrington as "the most devious bastard he'd ever met".

The irony was that Haig didn't seem to realise that in those circumstances "deviousness" becomes an asset. Unfortunate but true. One cannot play that game with cards laid open-faced on the table.

As to Carter, the electorate - with help from Reagan - saw him as "weak" and voted him out. Americans expect their presidents to be "strong" whatever that means, and most will be familiar with Teddy Roosevelt's definition of foreign policy: "talk softly but carry a big stick". In fact Carter found himself in an impossible situation and resorted to "principle" which didn't seem to be working. In some senses, however, Carter emerged as a "winner", whatever that means, following his ceaseless crossing and re-crossing of the globe, post presidency, in the cause of peace. But as someone else said so presciently about US literature: "there are no second acts for US novelists". Think Hemingway, Fitzgerald and the rest of the drunken crew. Not just novelists.

Marja said...

A belated happy birthday. Not easy to be on your own but nice the family sang to you. We go through difficult times and it is difficult to understand that it even is possible that Trump can do this. The people behind him are wrong as well then.
Anyway I so enjoyed your treasures from the past. It takes you down memory lane. How special that letter from President Carter and what an important work your husband has done.
When you ever plan to come to NZ let me know then I show you around our beautiful Christchurch
You take care and Kia kaha

Anonymous said...

What an interesting collection of vintage things you've unearthed in your garage. My cup of tea, as they say.

Of course you should keep your art from years ago as long as you have the room. It helps to see how far you've progressed and your mom obviously thought you should. And if you can't keep it all, at least keep your favorite.

At Home In New Zealand said...

Hi Vagabonde - and thanks for visiting my post. I'm glad you still celebrated your birthday (as I did!). It would be very easy to fall into the doldrums and not want to find something happy in this strange life we are now living.
I hope your family all remain safe. I get concerned about what is happening in your country as my daughter and husband live in Arizona, and then I am thankful that our own country has taken such stringent lockdown precautions so early. They seem to be working so far.
Stay safe, Mxx

Glenda Beall said...

I am late to read this, but I read every word and I am so grateful for it.
I was born and lived about thirty miles from Plains, GA where Pres. Carter lived. We often drove to Plains during his campaign and after. We enjoyed watching the baseball games between the government employees, Secret Service, etc. and the locals. I think he was the best president because he was a person who saw the future and was proactive instead of reactive, as our government today has been with this virus and other things. President Carter was too good a man to please the American people, I think. He warned us about environmental issues, the energy crisis and so much because he was a man who cared so deeply about this country and people. We see that now as his foundation has done so, so much for the world.
I am impressed that your husband worked with President Carter and that you have those letters. What keepsakes. I hope your family will appreciate them in years to come. I have some of those campaign mementoes, a knitted cap and a button. I am going to share this blog with all my friends and family. Stay well and I will look forward to your next post.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

That was an interesting read. I suppose many of us are sorting through the stuff and the memories we've accumulated over the years at this time. You've certainly collected some interesting artefacts and recollections, and it was so kind of you to share them with us. I wish you a rather belated Happy Birthday.

Mae Travels said...

The amount of information you put together in this post is really amazing! I learned so much about Carter, and about your family, and about your experiences, and you put it all together in such a coherent way, showing how these things relate to each other and to your life.

I think you were incredibly lucky to skip traveling at what might have been a disastrous time to try to fly to South America.

Thank you for writing so beautifully.

Be well... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Dewena said...

I have enjoyed reading this post so much. Your story is fascinating and I especially love knowing all you wrote about President Carter. He is such a decent man. I didn't realize that you and your husband moved to Georgia because of him, or have forgotten if I've read it here before. I don't think that President Carter's own party in Congress was as helpful and cooperative with him as they should have been during his administration.

You may very well have memorabilia in your collection that would be of value to his presidential library.

I hope that your son-in-law remains in good health during his sacrificial service at the hospital and I'm so glad that your daughter is near to caution you to be careful during this time. I know I'm not commenting on everything you covered in your post but please know that it all was important and all interesting and educational. I learned a lot I didn't know!

My best to you,

Pam said...

Fist off, it's not good to believe everything you read on the internet and I'm having a hard time with this. Your facts are wrong, the Ayatollah Khomeini said explicitly he would never release the hostages until Carter was no longer president. Dr. Anthony Fauci said there is no need for him to talk to the press every day. Sounds like to me you only get your info from pro Dem sites!

Powell River Books said...

Last year we sold our airplane hangar where we stored all the things we moved to Washington State from our California garage. Much of it can unopened from the loft. We had to quickly empty the space so I had to let lots of family mementos go sight unseen. Maybe that was the easiest way to go. I kept all the photos and it took weeks to go through and organize them for storage here in our condo. - Margy

Vagabonde said...

Pam - Thank you for coming to my blog. I appreciate all comments. I do not believe everything that is on the Internet but do my research the best I can. I am an Independent and stay away from both Democratic and Republican sites as they have their own bias. My notes on the Iran Hostages were taken from a Swiss report (in French) by an Iranian historian and a reading of a past copy of the Cyprus Weekly. Dr. Fauci has been asked not to talk publicly on TV because some of his facts contradict the president (did not find that on the Internet either but by talking with people in the field.)

Kay G. said...

As you know, I agree with you 100% that we we should be wearing masks.
I do love what your wrote here about Jimmy Carter, he has always been an advocate for the environment. Also, as a teenager I used to babysit for the Johnny and Bunny Martin from Conyers GA. My Dad was shocked when I came home and told him that Jimmy Carter was running for President and that JOhnny was working on his campaign! My Dad was thrilled! After JImmy Carter won, I remember that Johnny and Bunny got a Christmas card from the White House! That was a thrill for me to see as a teenager! I bet ya'all got one too!
As a native Georgian, I am proud of Jimmy Carter. Think of all that he has done after leaving the White House and even at his age now, all that he continues to do!
Thanks very much for this beautifully written post, I enjoyed it.

Thérèse said...

Coucou Vagabonde qui ne vagabonde plus... I am so sorry for you... Un point en commun le Tennessee où un de nos enfants habite... il a la chance d'être en confinement dans la verdure à deux minutes de l'eau mais il reprend le travail la semaine prochaine à Chattanooga dans d'assez bonnes conditions. Nous sommes je dois dire de grands privilégiés comparé à tant d'autres. La suite sera difficile pour beaucoup et elle l'est déjà pour nombre d'entre eux. Il faut espérer que nous saurons apprendre au jour le jour, dès maintenant, à reconnaître la beauté d'être en vie et que nous devons travailler dur pour œuvrer avec la Nature sur la même longueur d'ondes.
Je reviendrai lire ton billet qui demande un petit moment quand même à lire...

Thérèse said...

Si tu ne veux pas garder toutes tes peintures d'enfant, tu pourrais en faire des collages... Quel épisode avec le barrage sur la Flint River! Quels souvenirs, bien que tu trouves le temps de tout coucher sur papier, façon de parler. Wise daughter Vagabonde. Pensées spéciales pour ton gendre que je n'oublie pas le soir sur notre balcon. Fais attention à toi.

The Furry Gnome said...

You do write detailed blog posts, but it's very interesting! I used some of 'Ian McCarg's ideas in my fourth year thesis in 1971, so I was very interested in your husband's project. You can be very proud of what he accomplished protecting that river valley.

Magic Love Crow said...

I hope your son-in-law is ok!! I'm glad you had a happy birthday! Sending you many blessings! I think you should keep at least one of your pieces of art and have it framed! That is so cool about Jimmy Carter! I always find your blog so informative and I thank you for always being you! Big Hugs! Keep Safe!

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