Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Atlanta’s Historic Snow

The snow flurries began in our county, Cobb County, in the morning of 25th December 2010. Within an hour it was snowing hard in Georgia and the ground was covered. Atlanta and the metro area had not experienced a White Christmas since 25 December 1882. This is not a typo, the year was 1882 – 128 years ago. There had been a very light snow in 1993 but it did not stick. When US President Chester Arthur watched the snow that Christmas 1882 he did not know that it would not snow again in Atlanta on Christmas day even in the next century. (It snows in Atlanta sometimes, but usually in January or February.) Chester Arthur (1829-1886) was the 21st President of the USA. He had been the vice-president of President James A. Garfield; when Garfield was assassinated, Chester Arthur succeeded him. President Arthur’s term was between September 19th 1881 and March 4th 1885. Arthur was tall and elegant. Below is his official White House portrait.

Official portrait of President Chester Arthur who was president during Atlanta’s last Christmas snow (before last Sat.)

Several things happened in the year 1882 - the bacterium responsible for tuberculosis was discovered by Robert Koch, outlaw Jesse James was shot and killed, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture premiered in Moscow, the first US Labor Day parade was held in New York City, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Virginia Woolf and James Joyce were born and Charles Darwin died. On 23 December 1882 German-born American cartoonist Thomas Nast published his print “Christmas Flirtation” in Harpers’ Weekly Magazine and on 25 December 1882 it snowed in Atlanta, Georgia.

Christmas Flirtation, print by Thomas Nast, Dec. 23, 1882

Thomas Nast is credited with creating the first image of our modern Santa. One of his most famous drawings is the one below published in Harpers’ Weekly in 1881.

A Merry Christmas” 1881 by Thomas Nast (1840-1902)

I did not witness the White Christmas in Atlanta last Saturday, but had one close to Nashville, Tennessee. It had also snowed slightly in 1993 there but the last snowfall on that day in Nashville was in 1969. I woke up early on the 25th and looked outside – this is what I saw

We had seen Papa Noël (Santa) at our little grandsons’ school on their last day of class. He was quite jolly.

Nice presents were received by all. This year I was spoiled with several books, CDs and good dark chocolate (covered orange sticks are my favorite.) I was also very grateful to receive some pretty greeting cards, eight of them.

Click on collage to enlarge, then click on picture to biggify

My husband was given several books as well – three of them were on men biographies – which I hope he will let me borrow.

On Sunday we had brunch at Mère Bulles, a restaurant housed in a former southern mansion named then Maryland Manor. Michèle Bouvier was born in Deauville, France, in 1840 and immigrated to the US. She opened a restaurant and she loved Champagne so much that she was nicknamed “Mother Bubbles” which translates as Mère Bulles in French. There were not many drivers on the road on that snowy Sunday morning.

It was warm and inviting inside Mère Bulles’ restaurant. The five buffet tables were outstanding with an array of delectable items, such as the crème brulée French toast with the raspberry glaze, the build your own egg Benedict, the made to order gourmet omelettes and waffles, the chocolate fountain for the fresh strawberries and so much more.

When we returned to the house it was no longer snowing. I was able to snap some pictures of the large decorated houses in the neighborhood.

In the afternoon we had fun playing in the backyard with the grandsons and the dogs.

After spending several days in Tennessee it was time to go back home to Georgia. When we left, it was below freezing with a lot of snow still on the ground so we decided to avoid the mountains around Chattanooga and drive south toward Birmingham, Alabama.

The roads were clear and the landscape pretty. There was more snow in Alabama than in southern Tennessee. We were pleased to see that snow had not yet melted in Georgia.

Turning a bend in the road into Georgia we could see the sun ahead and more color in the trees.

It was dark when we arrived home but the next morning I went out to catch some snow pictures in our yard. The tracks left from a jumping rabbit were still there.

I wished I had been home to see this White Christmas – the first one in 128 years. Will we have to wait another 128 years for the next one? Speaking of numbers – by reading this, you are reading my 100th post!

This finishes this year satisfactorily for me. I hope that the year 2010 has given you satisfaction also and hope that 2011 will be even better in every way. May all my friends in blogland be very happy in the coming year. Here are a couple of vintage postcards to wish you a great 2011!

Now I better start reading all these books…

A Place of Her Own by James Christensen, American, born in 1942

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bulloch Hall in the Festive Season

On a very cold but sunny day we decided to visit Bulloch Hall in Roswell, Georgia. It is about 15 miles from our home. We had driven by it many times but had never stopped. Bulloch Hall is an antebellum grand house that was the Bulloch Family’s estate, circa 1839. Martha “Mittie” Bulloch (1835-1884) grew up in the home - she was the mother of President Theodore Roosevelt and the paternal grandmother of Eleanor Roosevelt.

Martha “Mittie” Bulloch (1835-1884)

Later in the upcoming year we will return to Bulloch Hall and I’ll post a history on the family and the house. This time we visited the house to see it with all its holiday decorations. Unfortunately I forgot to take my Nikon – I just had my Sony camera, so some of the pictures are not too crisp.

Click on picture to enlarge

I have always liked the Christmas lights, decors, wreaths and all the trimmings. Growing up in Paris, my mother would take me to see the beautiful windows of the large department stores, Le Printemps and Les Galeries Lafayette. We would walk inside first so I could give my letter to Papa Noël (Santa.) He used to sit in a huge armchair in the middle of the central stairways. I had to walk up the stairs to reach him and was petrified to miss a step. There were no photographers then. My friend Peter of the blog Peter’s Paris has graciously let me use a couple of the photos he recently took in Paris of the stores.

Grands Magasins, Paris (courtesy of Peter's Paris)

Wooden platforms were installed under the large windows, with steps, to enable little children to see well. Every window had a different scene – mainly automated toys and stuffed animals. Here is another picture from Peter’s blog – I would think that these little men are dancing to lively music.

Animated store window in Paris (courtesy Peter's Paris)

Here in Atlanta, now that all the department stores have moved to malls, there are no longer large windows to walk by and admire. The two big department stores, Macy’s and Rich’s, have moved away from downtown. When our daughters were little, we used to take them to Rich’s downtown and they would ride Priscilla, the “Pink Pig” on top of the roof, then we would go to the Magnolia Tea Room and have a piece of succulent apple pie.

Rich’s Pink Pig in downtown Atlanta in the 70s (postcard copyright Whitefield)

But that was then, now to Roswell we go to look at the pretty Christmas decor.

It was very warm inside. We entered the large hall

then turned right entering the parlor and going toward the chimney where, it seemed, a nice fire was burning.

On the side a little table was set with “savories” ready for our tea.

click on collage to enlarge, then click on each picture to biggify

Walking into the next room we saw many snowmen.

As this huge snowman was standing close to the fire I wondered why he was not melting…

Snowmen were everywhere - on a sideboard, reflected in a mirror, on a table, on the floor …

and under a painting.

On our way to the kitchen downstairs we walked by a “deer” having a snack.

The kitchen looked inviting.

We were the only visitors and I would have liked to get my hands in the flour and cut the dough to shape gingerbread cookies…

then to move the bread and pie in the oven aside so they could have room to bake…

Or, maybe we could stop a while and read the book, open on the stand…

Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound…”

“He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work…”

Is the chimney large enough for St Nicholas?...

Let’s close the door to the kitchen and explore the upstairs rooms…

First we walk by a wall in the hall sheltering a small village…

Upstairs, the children are well tucked in their bed and the bears are having tea…

The parents’ bedroom is also brightly lit. Going downstairs I see an inviting armchair where it would be nice to relax and read a tale of Noël.

Here is another charming room with lovely Christmas trees – but wait, is that a gentleman caller waiting on the settee?

Perhaps he would like to partake of some caroling accompanied by the pianoforte?

I don’t think so, he is not moving from the settee. As we walk by a tall window I look up and what do I see? Could this be some Osage oranges on that bare tree outside – there in the top middle pane?

Let’s walk in the garden and find this Osage orange tree (which was the subject of my post here) Yes indeed, there is an old tree, must be as old as the house, with 3 fruits left on it.

Now it is time to end our visit of Bulloch Hall and keep its delightful Christmas decorations in our memory.

I’d like to take y’all to our family gathering for Noël where we will be a diverse group of Catholic, Non-believer, Agnostic, Free Thinker, Muslim and Buddhist (plus three dogs.) But since we cannot take you with us I am sending you the postcards below with my warmest wishes for a merry and happy time during these festive days.

Vintage postcard illustrated by Jenny Nystrom, Swedish 1854-1959
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