Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Americus, GA 10/9-14/2015

We are continuing to to head south, working our way towards the Florida Keys for the winter.  We stopped for 6 days in Americus, GA.  We are staying at the Brickyard Plantation.  It is an RV golf resort and is run by the nicest people one can imagine.  Our first two days here was during their annual South Eastern Bluegrass Association Festival where we were treated to 2 days of Bluegrass tunes from various bands.  We can both attest, you have not really heard Amazing Grace until you have heard a Georgia Bluegrass band play it.

After a couple of days of listening to Bluegrass we were off to visit some of the sites that are close to here.  First up was Andersonville Prison, or Camp Sumter as it was called back in the Civil War days. Andersonville prison is known for being the largest prison on the Confederate side and operated for just 14 months, beginning in February 1864.  In that short time 13,000 of the 45,000 captured Union soldiers sent there died.  

When the 16 acre prison was originally constructed, the plan was that it would include wooden barracks.  But, that never happened and the prisoners housed there lived under open skies.  They were left to doing what they could to build their own shelter with clothes and blankets.  These shelters were known as shebangs    The water that trickled through the enclosed open air log fence structure eventually flowed little and what did flow for the most part eventually became a cesspool of disease and human waste.  The prison was built to hold 10,000 men and within three months there were over 30,000 men contained within its walls.  Food and water became scarce and what there was of these was often contaminated or spoiled.  A rouge group of prisoners known as the Raiders began to form within.  They would use brutal means to extract goods from their fellow inmates.  The group was lead by six men.  Within a few weeks another group from within known as the Regulators formed.  The Regulators hunted down these fellow inmates known as the Raiders from within,  and both put them on trial  and hung all six of them, right there within the prison walls. But the Raiders were far from the total problem for after their hanging, another 10,000 prisoners would still die within the prison walls from hunger, exposure or disease.

We drove around the prison grounds using a borrowed CD guide from the Parks service.  Along the fields we could see where the stockade walls were located as well as the dead line.  The dead line was a light fence erected 19 feet inside of the 15 foot high stockade walls.  If a prisoner stepped into this area they would be shot.  We also toured the cemetery where 13,000 Union prisoners are buried.  While we were at the Shriver house in Gettysburg we learned how George Shriver died within this prison camp.  Gettyburg visit   Wanting to feel that connection, we searched out George's gravestone and felt connected when we found him.  We learned how the soldier gravestones are  placed only inches apart because once the death rate reached 100 prisoners per day the prisoners were buried in trenches, shoulder to shoulder. They were numbered and some time later they were identified.  

To say this was a sober day is an understatement.  We had planned to go to Plains, GA too but it looks like that will keep until tomorrow.  We stopped in Americus at Gladys Gladys for a knock your socks off late lunch (or early dinner) of fried chicken,  greens, homemade creamed corn, corn bread johnny cakes and something called buttered rolls for desert.  Want to know what this is?  We found this recipe on the internet.  Trust us, butter roll desert is yummy.  Butter rolls

Plains Georgia, the home of Jimmy Carter was our next planned excursion.  We would have enjoyed getting to attend a Sunday School class of his, but while he is here most weekends, this weekend was not one of those.  We toured his school, the farm he grew up on and we were amazed at this simple town that an ex- president lives in now.  There are a couple of simple restaurants and a grocery store (not major) about 15 minutes away.  Everyone is friendly and the peanut butter ice cream in the local tourist store is to die for.  Almost every house in this small town has a Jimmy Carter for Cancer Survivor sign in their front yard.

As we explained in our Atlanta post  Carter Presidential Library Jimmy and his wife are loving, simple and caring individuals.  His home town tours felt the same.  So many audio recordings from him and his wife enveloped us in their caring spirits.  And everything, even though being a National Park site,  is no charge.  As we listened to his various audios, you get a feeling that none of them were prepared, yet just off the cuff and always very humble.

The video of their house  showed us that they are people of very simple needs.  They love each other and want to do good in this world.  There is nothing elaborate in their home. Simple as that.  Nothing fancy about their house or its furnishings.

At their high school are many museum story boards.  Here, Rosalyn very honestly tells of her unhappiness when Jimmy decided to leave his officer job in the navy to return back to Plains.  That first year they struggled with three boys and had to live in Government housing.  We can only imagine, that leaving a life of exciting international travel, after growing up in such a small town, must have seemed hard for her.  But she learned accounting and eventually became a huge asset to the farm that they began.  And today, Jimmy gives her a lot of credit too for their success.

At the farm, we could see how Jimmy grew up with little.  He had two sisters and a brother and they did not have running water or electricity in the house until Jimmy was 13.  Once they did the water to the shower was not heated, it ran into a bucket that had holes to create a make ship shower head.

On the farm they ran a general store and we heard accounts where there was almost never an evening meal where Jimmy was not required to leave the dinner table to attend to a small sale such as chewing tobacco.

Most of what we left Plains with, however, is that the locals so love the Carters. Like previously mentioned, almost every house had a Jimmy Carter for Cancer Survivor sign in their yard and it was not hard to get caught up in the love that this town has for the Carter family.  After visiting their library and their home town, if we were to sum it up in a few words, I think we would say, a life well lived.  They convey their love for people of many lands, and their undying love for God and humanity, any way that they can, and they are anxious to help those in need. So very uplifting.

Our last bit of touring this area was the Habitat for Humanity International Global Village in the city of Americus.  At this location are approximately 15 sample homes that Habitat for Humanity builds for families all over the Globe using local appropriate materials.  The tour begins with a walk through a typical slum area.  The signs we felt do a good job of explaining how people come to live in the conditions they are in (not normally from being lazy, but rather from leaving a rural area for the city in hopes of employment for their families).  The statistics are sad.  Lack of clean water and sanitation claim the lives of 1.8 million young children every year.  Even here in the US 48.5 million families live in poverty.  Throughout the village are stories regarding the accomplishments of their housing.  One that stood out for us was that in Malawi, children that live in Habitat for Humanity houses have 44 percent less sickness from Malaria and other gastrointestinal disease than children in other housing there.  We continued our tour through the various sample houses, all of which we could go inside of as well, though only a few actually have indoor plumbing.

Habitat for Humanity does not give away homes.  Rather homeowners must meet certain income guidelines which require them to be in need, yet also be capable of paying a mortgage. Additionally, approved home owners must put in a minimum of 500 hours of sweat equity into the construction of their own home.  The mortgages go to pay for the land and building materials, and most of the labor to construct is done so by volunteers.  At the village we also learned about numerous of their other programs that include, among many others, home maintenance for the needy as well as repairs.   This is an organization that we both really believe in and at present they are completing a construction or renovation project for a family every 10 minutes of the day.   I believe we were told that a US home (which includes much more than these international homes) is mortgaged to the new owner at somewhere around $70,000. 

Reconstructed Shebangs
 Andersonville Prison, GA
The Marking of the Deadline and Stockade lines
Andersonville Prison, GA
Mass numbers buried shoulder to shoulder
Andersonville Prison, GA
George's Grave (from Gettysburg)
Andersonville Prison, GA
Gettysburg blog entry
Go Buffaloes
Plains High School
Jimmy Carter's High School
Jimmy Carter's High School
The Farm
Jimmy Carter grew up here with his 2 sisters and brother
 Jimmy Carter's room
The Farm (Jimmy's boyhood)
 After age 13 the family had running water, though not heated.
The bathroom pipe would put water in the bucket, that had holes in it, and this
worked as their shower head.
The Farm (Jimmy's boyhood)
The formal family dining room for Sunday dinners
Carter Farm (Jimmy's boyhood)

The Carter Living room (Jimmy's boyhood)
The Carter General Store (Jimmy's boyhood)
Jimmy Carter's Church-Maranatha Baptist Church
Jimmy Carter teaches Sunday School here on most Sundays
At full capacity the sanctuary seats 300 people.
 Young Jimmy Carter Childhood Picture
Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter Wedding Photo
One of the many water colors done by Jimmy Carter
'My Studio Self-Portrait' Jimmy Carter 2009 
So much support from the locals
This sign is in the yard of most Plains, GA homes
and also through out the entire town of Americus too.
Habitat for Humanity
Aerated Concrete Block
Metal Roof
Habitat for Humanity
Field Stone
Local Wood
Concrete Floor
 Corrugated Metal Roof
Habitat for Humanity
Metal Window Frames and Vents
Steel Reinforced Concrete Lintels
Habitat for Humanity
Homeowner Fired Clay Bricks
Pole Rafters

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