» posted on Thursday, July 30th, 2015 by Linda Burton
Linda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas –July was Sam Time. Sam is my youngest grandchild, born and growing up in the Pacific Northwest. He went to Juneau with me on the Journey back in 2012 (read all about it in Juneau) where we went whale-watching and dog-sledding and he got to know a capital city up and down. He flew into Little Rock last summer and spent three weeks with me in Arkansas, where we made a quick-trip into Oklahoma and Texas. But I figured it was time this boy had a bona fide real-time southern experience and learned about his roots. After all, he was teetering on the cusp of teenhood, and you know how fast that goes. I planned a full-fledged Journey through the south, worthy of a Fodor review.
I met Sam’s plane in Atlanta. His “unaccompanied minor” status required a direct flight, and we were headed for Gatlinburg anyhow, so that made sense. Did you know that Hartsfield International in Atlanta is the busiest airport in the world? 95 million passengers annually, coming into 7 terminals, exiting through 201 gates. Sam emerged through Alaska’s Gate D3 (at the far end of nowhere), a little taller than last year and wearing a Seattle Seahawks shirt. “Welcome to Atlanta, home of the Braves!” I grinned. And so began Sam’s Song of the South, subtitled “Where Your Dad Grew Up.” I’d filled a notebook with pictures of family members he’d meet, and details about each stop we’d make. “First stop tomorrow is South Carolina,” I explained in our Atlanta motel room that night, “Ware Shoals, where we were living when your Dad was born.” I had a picture of his Dad taking his first steps, in our kitchen there on Dairy Street. My plan was to drive by and show him the house. You won’t believe how that turned out. » read more
» posted on Thursday, April 30th, 2015 by Linda Burton
Linda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – I was invited by Charlotte Jeffers, Regent of the Arkadelphia Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution, to speak at their April 14 meeting. “Do you want me to talk about the history of the capital cities, or my travel experiences?” I asked. “What will everyone be most interested in?” “We are interested in everything,” was the reply, so I decided to focus on our likeminded objectives, which sent me to the DAR national website.
I learned that DAR was founded October 11, 1890 and incorporated in 1896 by an Act of Congress. Objectives are listed as Historical, Educational, and Patriotic, so I honed in on the “educational” factor, since that is a primary objective of Capital Cities USA. For DAR, “to promote…institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge, thus developing an enlightened public opinion.” For Capital Cities USA, “to build community, character and citizenship through humanities education.” From Objectives to Methodology explains the Journey Across America: Item 1 – to assess civic, community and historic resources in the 50 capital cities of the United States and their capitol buildings by gathering data through on-site visits to each capitol and capital city. In a nutshell!
I began my talk with bottom-line statistics – departed February 28, 2012 and concluded December 18, 2013 for a total of 659 days. Traveled 31,710 miles and spent time in 50 state capitols and the national capitol in DC. Shared neighborhoods with 12,947,450 people as I lived two weeks in each capital city. (With my two cats, no less.) I shared a map showing the 75 overnight stops I made before settling down in Arkadelphia, and then moved into story telling.
“What learning opportunities did I find in the capitols?” I focused on five that were exceptional:
• Austin, Texas – Most Extensive Visitor Services
• Boise, Idaho – Most Inspiring Kids Tour
• Atlanta, Georgia – Tie With Springfield, Illinois as Most Welcoming
• Springfield, Illinois – Tie with Atlanta, Georgia as Most Welcoming
• Montpelier, Vermont – Most Intimate & Inviting, Best Volunteer Program, Most Meticulous Restoration
» posted on Sunday, February 10th, 2013 by Linda Burton
Linda Burton posting from Atlanta, Georgia – Fried chicken! When I spotted the picture of the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet smiling down at me from the foyer walls in Mary Mac’s Tea Room, I had to ask, “What did he eat for lunch?” “Marian waited on him that day,” was the answer, “and she says he ordered fried chicken.” Turns out the Dalai Lama comes to Atlanta often; he is a Presidential Distinguished Professor at Emory University; and it also turns out he isn’t a vegetarian, as many Buddhists are. He grew up in a meat-eating family but converted to vegetarianism while in India; his doctors however ordered him to eat meat on alternating days after he became weak. “Richard Gere did stick to vegetables that day,” my informer continued. “But I don’t know which ones.” Richard had plenty of choices; I counted 44 items under Fresh Vegetables and Sides on the menu, from Applesauce to Whipped Potatoes; 25 of them were starred as Vegetarian Friendly. Mary Mac’s Tea Room, dubbed Atlanta’s Dining Room, has been feeding Atlantans and world-famous visitors since Mary MacKenzie opened back in 1945. It served classic southern food back then, and that’s what it serves today; every morning somebody is back there in the kitchen shucking bushels of corn, and hand snapping the green beans. If it’s your first visit to Mary Mac’s, you are offered a complimentary bowl of pot likker with cracklin’ cornbread on the side; pot likker, in case you’ve never heard of it, is the juice you get when you cook up a mess of collard greens; it’s soupy and salty with just a taste of ham. If you don’t know about collard greens, and fried green tomatoes, and Red Mule grits, and sweet potato pie, well, let me fill you in. Mary Mac’s may be the oldest southern-cooking spot in town, but those items are standard fare almost anywhere you go around here, with or without a twist. » read more
» posted on Wednesday, February 6th, 2013 by Linda Burton
Linda Burton posting from Atlanta, Georgia – The paint is peeling and the steps are worn. Aside from the numerous oil portraits propped on handsome brass supports, it’s rather plain inside, confusing expectations. After all, the Georgia State Capitol has a dome of shimmering gold, and sits in the middle of high-rise urban glitterati and international trade. But I tell you what, there was nothing plain about what was going on inside today. This old house was alive with people; the Georgia Assembly was hot and heavy into its 40-day session; school buses from all over the state provided a steady stream of students ready for a first-hand look at government in action; side rooms and hallways housed various-agenda groups; cables and cameras were strung all over the place, recording events of the day; and everywhere, cell-phone photos captured the moment. Everyone but me was wearing a badge or a bit of apparel stating purpose – I rode the elevator with Senator Gloria Butler, according to her badge, and chatted in the halls with award-winning students from Skills USA. I was greeted in the Governor’s Office by friendly staff, who invited me to sign the guest book and explained that the artwork is changed frequently to give exposure to as many Georgia artists as possible. Yes, the Governor’s Office, and that of the Secretary of State, are right by the front door, with glass hallway windows giving everyone who enters the building a glimpse inside. This 1889 building was constructed to highlight the democratic ideal of “transparency in government;” its upper floors are a surround-space of clear glass windows that flood the building with light; glass tiles in the rotunda floor originally allowed light to continue down to the basement area. » read more
» posted on Sunday, February 3rd, 2013 by Linda Burton
Linda Burton posting from Atlanta, Georgia – Buy a pass that’s good for nine days. Go to five of Atlanta’s top seven favorite spots. You can do that with Atlanta CityPass, a “bundle” of things to do; the same thing is offered in the capital city of Boston, and in other large cities around the country such as Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle. It’s nice to get the seriously discounted ticket prices, and it’s nice, if you’re a quick-stop tourist, to have suggestions that lead you to places unique to a city, like the Statue of Liberty, or the Space Needle. In Atlanta, CityPass choices include Atlanta History Center, Fernbank Museum of Natural History, Georgia Aquarium, High Museum of Art, Inside CNN Tours, World of Coca-Cola, and Zoo Atlanta. I’ve been to these fabulous places on previous visits to Atlanta, and I whole-heartedly vouch for their high-interest factor, but seeing them “bundled” got me thinking about why they are so popular, how they impact the everyday lives of Atlanta residents, and who was responsible for their creation. Behind every great thing is somebody’s gem of an idea. And behind every thriving community lies the support of the people who live there, and love it. » read more
» posted on Friday, February 1st, 2013 by Linda Burton
Linda Burton posting from Atlanta, Georgia – February is Black History Month. A check of city calendars across the country reveals concerts, lectures, and special events scheduled from Annapolis, Maryland to Salem, Oregon, and all points between. I’m in Atlanta now, so I decided to head for Roswell, a community 20 miles to the north, to learn about Roswell Roots, the largest and most comprehensive celebration of African American history and culture in the state of Georgia. Roswell is known for its focus on history; it is an outstanding example of what a city can do for preservation, with the now-city-owned “Trilogy” of Barrington Hall, Bulloch Hall, and Smith Plantation open to the public year-round. Barrington Hall (1842) sits on 7 acres in downtown Historic Roswell; known as one of metro Atlanta’s “Most Beautiful Homes” it offers visitors a glimpse of the only antebellum garden in the area, and numerous original outbuildings. At Smith Plantation (1845) visitors can see the original farmhouse and ten original outbuildings, once part of a 300-acre cotton farm. Bulloch Hall (1839) has a unique claim to fame – it was the childhood home of Martha “Mittie” Bulloch, whose wedding to Theodore Roosevelt Sr took place in the front parlor in 1853; Mittie became mother to Teddy Roosevelt (26th President, 1901-1909) and grandmother to Eleanor Roosevelt (First Lady 1933-1945). This month, however, the emphasis at Bulloch (photo right), and elsewhere in Roswell, is Roswell Roots. » read more