Sunday, December 13, 2020

Georgia on my mind ...

Georgia is on my mind ... I have to drive back again next week from Nashville to my house in Greater Atlanta for the early voting of the senate runoffs. I already drove twice there to vote last month (500 miles round trip each.)
Georgia is also on everyone's mind because of this important election. Why is this election important? The Atlanta Journal Constitution newspaper explained it well in their December 11, 2020 article: Here is part of it: "Why are the Democrats and Republicans flooding Georgia with more than $400 million in television ads? Why has Vice President Mike Pence visited five Georgia cities in two weeks? And why is President-elect Joe Biden taking a day away from building his administration to travel to Atlanta, as he will on Tuesday? It all comes down to Georgia's two U.S. Senate seats, both up for grabs in the Jan. 5 runoffs and now suddenly key to the early success of Biden's presidency. Control of the U.S. Senate rests on the outcome in Georgia." So you understand why Georgia is on everyone's mind right now.
Actually, "Georgia on My Mind" became the state of Georgia's official song on April 24, 1979 when Governor George Busbee signed it into law. Singer Ray Charles (1930-2004,) who had made the song famous, performed it on March 7, 1979, in front of a joint meeting of the GA Senate and House of Representatives. I remember watching him on television that day. The song was originally written by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell in the 1930s; it was one of Ray Charles' (born in Albany, Georgia on Sep. 23, 1930) biggest hits. I watched him again, live, in 1996 when he performed it in Atlanta's Centennial Park during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. Below are pictures of Ray Charles in Atlanta in 1979 (courtesy the AJC.)
Georgia on my Mind, now the official anthem of Georgia, has been a very popular song recorded by many artists, among them: Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Glenn Miller, Etta James, Eric Clapton, Peggy Lee, Tom Jones, Oscar Peterson, Willie Nelson, Dean Martin, Gladys Knight, Led Zeppelin, Leon Russell and many more. In 2003 Rolling Stone magazine declared it one of the top 50 greatest songs of all time. You can find a rendition of it from all these artists on YouTube. Below is an early rendition by Ray Charles.
My husband, two daughters and I moved to Atlanta in early 1973 when my husband was offered a position in the then Governor Jimmy Carter's administration. We lived there until the end of 2017. Now I live in Georgia part-time as it is still my main residence; I live in Nashville, Tennessee, the rest of the time. On my blog I have shown many photos taken in various parts of the state (and I'll show several in this post.) For my friends overseas I'll give some information. Georgia is located in the southeastern U.S. It was named after King George II of Britain and was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirtheen Colonies. Below are vintage postcards of Atlanta. (Click on collage to enlarge.)
The US state of Georgia has an area of 59,425 square miles or 153,909 km2. It is about half the size of Italy; population in 2019 was close to 11 million (including 6 million in Greater Atlanta.)
Georgia is known for its peanuts, peaches and pecans. Its poultry and egg production is worth $4 billion and its cotton is the no. 1 row crop value in the state. Below, two lower photos on the right are a cotton field and some cotton photos I took several years ago. In the center are a fresh bag of peanuts and a bag of pecan pralines I received this week from Southern Grace Farms in Enigma, Georgia. It is owned by the McMillan family who, for eight generations (since their Scottish ancestors came in 1774,) has been farming in South Georgia.
Georgia's terrain is very varied with farmland, mountains, coastal beaches, wild areas, swamps, numerous lakes, waterfalls, white water streams and a great river, the Chattahoochee. It truly is a beautiful state and offers a myriad of landscape to phogograph.
My house is in Greater Atlanta, in Cobb County, in the northwest part of the state. I love the sea but it is about a 4 1/2 hour drive from my house, about the same distance as from my GA house to the one in Nashville. The North Georgia Mountains are close though and there are stunning vistas in the Appalachian Mountains. Last year I traveled to Spring Mountain in Fannin County where the Appalachian Trail starts, then goes 2000+ miles to the state of Maine.
Atlanta, the capital city of Georgia, is the birthplace of Coca-Cola and home of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic site. Atlanta has the busiest international airport in the planet. The city of Augusta hosts the famous Masters Golf tournament and the city of Savannah is famed for its lovely historic architecture and leafy public squares. The University of Georgia founded in 1785 is one of the oldest public universities in the nation. In addition to Coca-Cola, Atlanta is the headquarters for several large corporations: Home Depot, Delta, Equifax, Georgia Pacific and UPS.
Even though much of the state was burnt during the Civil War it still has quite a number of antebellum mansions.
One historic house I usually visit at Christmas time for its decoration and in the spring for its quilt show is Bulloch Hall in Roswell, GA. I miss not visiting it this year because of the virus.
Having been born, raised and lived in Paris until I came to San Francisco in the 1960s (where I lived ten years,) most of my life has been in Georgia and I guess I am now a Franco-Georgian (the state that is, not the country.) I like its cuisine and cook many southern dishes. For example every New Year's Day I prepare the traditional Hoppin' John recipe with greens and corn bread for good luck throughout the year.
Other Georgia-themed songs are "Midnight train to Georgia" by Gladys Knight (an Atlanta native) and the Pips and "Rainy Night in Georgia" by Brook Benton, and so many others. One of the early songs I heard was "Georgia" by Elton John in 1978. Elton John lives part time in Atlanta in his luxury high rise condo in the Buckhead area.
What you may not know is that Georgia is the Hollywood of the South. In 2016 more major feature films were made in Georgia than in California (Black Panther, Avengers, The Ballad of Richard Jewell, Lovecraft Country, Ozark, Fast and Furious, Baby Driver, etc.) The Georgia Film Commission started in 1973 with Governor Jimmy Carter who recognized the profitable revenues from the Burt Reynolds' movie "Deliverance." The state offers quite advantageous tax incentives for film productions. Large studios are constantly being built in Georgia to accomodate the growth of this industry. It is not unusual to see actors in Atlanta and other areas. Actually I literally bumped into Clint Eastwood in Savannah some years ago. (See "Savannah's Book ... and Clint Eastwood." Below just two of the several studios. The Atlanta Studio Complex below was for decades the Atlanta Fairgrounds where I used to visit the monthly flea markets.
When I saw that the film "The Blind Side" starring Sandra Bullock had been filmed in Atlanta I had planned to visit local locations from movies and write a post, but then I realized too many films had been filmed here. With the film and television industries and a concentration of high tech companies in the state a more educated work force has turned Georgia blue (Democrat) to the fury of D. Trump. Television series are also set in Georgia like The Walking Dead, Sharp Objects, Stranger Things, Moon and Me, and Sweet Magnolias. I have not watched the Sweet Magnolias series but understand it is filmed in Covington, GA, where Vampire Diaries and In the Heat of the Night were filmed, as well. Looking at the Greek revival mansion from the series I remembered taking its picture several years ago while in Covington, see my post here "Spring in the Deep South, part 1." (The fictional town in the series is Serenity, South Carolina.)
Because of the coronavirus I have not been able to travel very far. For now all my trips will lead me back to Georgia until my house is cleared out - and that will take some time ... so Georgia will stay on my mind.
I'll end up with one of my favorite instrumentals of Georgia on my Mind. It is from my 2019 CD by the UK Peter Frampton Band.
The music we hear now is mostly Christmas Carols or Holiday Music. It will be a bittersweet season as we wish to enjoy it but are filled with desolation at the amount of grief our country and the world is going through because of the coronavirus. I wish you all a Happy Hanukkah, a Merry Christmas and a peaceful holiday season.
Stay safe, wear a mask and keep your distance.


Cloudia said...

Such a marvelous post! Send it to the Georgia board of tourism. No kidding! I'm sharing this

DJan said...

Georgia is indeed a very beautiful part of the country. Years ago, my father was stationed in Albany, and I remember we had a pecan tree in the backyard of our rented home. That's when I learned I am allergic to pecan dust. I don't seem to have a problem eating them, though. What a wonderful post, VB. I enjoyed every bit of it, and every single picture. And song. :-)

David said...

Hi Vagabonde, The election in GA is definitely critical as the USA tries to regain its political balance. It will be interesting and controversial too... The political divide is horrible at the moment. My uncle who was an exec with Coca Cola was a big Carter supporter and contributor. President Carter has turned out to be a continuing contributor of goodwill ever since he left the Whitehouse. Not too many Presidents can say that. Love the Ray Charles version of Georgia on my Mind! Love Savannah and the Georgia coast as well as the mountains in the north. Praline pecans...Yum! Stay Safe and Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Colette said...

Wow! Great post.

Jeanie said...

I've been to GA few times, though not to stay long. But it's a lovely state and one I'd like better to explore. Maybe in a year. Or two. Who knows. But this is a terrific post and while I knew some of it, I learned a lot! (I always do from you!) Safe travels next week.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

Georgia has Savannah, one of the loveliest cities I have visited. It is beautifully laid out and I have enjoyed seeing it’s beautiful architecture and lovely, friendly people.The food is great also.

Bless you for making that long journey back and forth to vote. All eyes will be on Georgia in early January and I am hoping for a good outcome. We can’t succeed unless Congress wants us to and this division is destroying us.

Marie-Anne said...

What an informative post on Georgia, dear Vagabonde! It surely is a lovely place! I have family leaving in Georgia, but never had the chance to visit them!
I wish you a very happy festive season and I hope you will be able to spend it with your family! Take care and keep safe!!!!

Divers and Sundry said...

This vote is important, and we've been seeing a lot about it on the news. I enjoyed your overview of the state.

Shammickite said...

Ah... Georgia on my Mind. I saw Ray Charles in concert in Portsmouth, England back in the early 1960s.... he was amazing!
I have driven through Georgia on my way to and from Florida, but have never stopped there.

Mae Travels said...

Great post! The Georgia election sure is on my mind, along with almost anyone who cares about the state of our miserable politics. I don't dare dream that your state will come through and elect the two Democrats needed to allow the country to really go back to decency and honorable behavior. Good luck with your trip to vote, and happy holidays.

be safe and well...mae at

Nadezda said...

Dear Vagabonde,
in fact, you are right that Georgia is in your mind. I am amazed at how diverse and rich the culture of this state is. Composers, singers. films, serials, sports. It is a pity that you have to travel such a long distance to get from one house to another.
Interesting photos and I listened with pleasure to Elton John, so young.
Thank you and take care!

Joared said...

Yes, Georgia is very much on my mind with the upcoming runoff election and what the results will mean. Georgians should be proud of their election officials and those tireless workers subjected to so much. Georgia is a nurse friend of mine's name. The word always prompts me to recall the song numerous jazz singers I've enjoyed performed. Really enjoyed this piece, words and photos, you're sharing with us here.

Cergie said...

Bonsoir Vagabonde, car ici c'est déjà le soir. Les Etats Unis sont un continent, du Nord au Sud et d'un océan à l'autre. Je me souviens avoir reproduit une carte des Etats Unis avec les états pour le directeur de l'école de mon mari qui en avait besoin et d'avoir été rémunérée pour cela. Tu te doutes que cela ne remonte pas à hier.
Je me souviens que vers la fin des années 60, début des années 70, Ray Charles était venu au festival de jazz de Nancy et que j'étais allée l'écouter.
Si j'ai bien compris, tu as conservé ta maison même si tu as déménagé. Je t'admire ton énergie et ta vitalité. Peut-être d'avoir dû assumer pour deux explique-t-il cela, tu n'as jamais pu te laisser aller... Et bien tu pourras sans doute venir rendre visite à ta cousine à Colmar, tu aimeras l'Alsace, plus à taille humaine que Paris...
Passe de bonne fête de fin d'année, chère Vagabonde, quelle qu'elles soient. Nous même avons renoncé à rencontrer notre famille et nos petits enfants. Nous ne nous voyions pas les côtoyer avec des masques

Nadezda said...

Dear Vagabonde,
I love reading your blog.
A Merry Christmas, happy holidays with your family and loved ones.
Good health and take care!

Magic Love Crow said...

Thanks for all the great information! I learn so much from your blog! Big Hugs!

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