Friday, December 31, 2010

Atlanta: The End Of An Odyssey

I'd like to know everything before I die, but I realize that is not possible. I'll settle instead for continuing to learn as much as I can and to find out more about topics for which I am already knowledgeable. I have keen interests in many subjects--history, science, and the lives people who have made a difference are but a few examples. For this reason I am always drawn to museums and historical sites. If you share my love of learning, you might want to come to Atlanta.

Life's most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Today's morning excursion brought back many memories of my youth. I was raised in the segregated South, but by the time I was twelve dramatic changes were afoot. I was riveted by the speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr., and knew that he was on the right path as he fought for civil rights for all Americans. If you do not believe one person can make a difference, all you have to do is to consider the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. to know that it is true.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was an ordinary boy who loved playing baseball, hated piano lessons, and tried to wiggle out of doing his chores. But he was also an extraordinary boy who finished high school at age 15 and college before he was 20. As a young boy he faced prejudice, but believed in the Bible's teachings of loving thy neighbor. The area of Atlanta where King was raised--Sweet Auburn--was filled with upper middle class homes lived in by professionals, and more modest houses where working class folk resided. At that time, King's  neighborhood was the wealthiest black neighborhood in the world. King's sprawling Victorian home had 14 rooms and modern (for the time) amenities. All the children in Sweet Auburn played together. This interaction between well off children and working class children led to King's great compassion for those who are less fortunate. He also was an admirer of Gandhi, an activist from India who preached nonviolence and worked hard to bring positive change to his country. Dr. King followed Gandhi's teachings and ensured that all of his work to bring about equal rights for African Americans was nonviolent. Even under great duress, Civil Rights protesters remained calm and peaceful while being brutalized and arrested by law enforcement officials. As Dr. King preached, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

There are many excellent books about the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., and I've read several of them. But I learned something today that I did not know. King's father was born to a sharecropper who chose to name his newborn baby son after the baby's uncles, Martin and Luther. But his wife wanted to name the baby Michael after the archangel. So, even though her son's name was Martin Luther, she always called him Michael. When your mother calls you by a name, it becomes your name for sure. Thus it was with Michael King. When he married, his wife gave birth to a son and they named him Michael King, Jr. When young Michael was five years old, his grandfather came to Michael Sr. and said, "Son, before I die, I want you to go by the name I gave you when you were born." To honor his father's wishes, Michael King went to the courthouse with his son and had the son's name legally changed to Martin Luther King, Jr. For the rest of his life, Michael King, Sr. reverted to using the name Martin.

As your way up the sidewalk to the King Historical Site, you see many, many footprints of people who have made a positive difference. Two are below.

This statue of Gandhi is outside the King Historical Site.

This is the Ebeneezer Baptist Church where Dr. King's father was the preacher. It is a convenient walk from the Dr. King's childhood home. The church is being restored.

This eternal flame is at Dr. King's grave.
The graves of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King

This is a replica of the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Dr. King.
I was greatly touched by this sad memento. It is the key to the motel room where Dr. King was assassinated.
These personal items belonged to Dr. King. Click to enlarge the photo.

When you think of Grammy winners, does the name Martin Luther King, Jr. spring to mind? If not, it should. Dr. King won a Grammy for the recording of a speech he gave about the Vietnam War. You can hear the speech here:

 These are the small working class homes in Dr. King's childhood neighborhood.
The 14-room house where Dr. King was born and raised

Another view of Dr. King's childhood home.
The National Park Service is maintaining and restoring Dr. King's childhood neighborhood. If you are curious as to how stimulus money is being used, this is one good example--preserving history for America.

Cook's Antique Shop in Atlanta provided this two mule-team wagon to use as a caisson for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s funeral procession on April 9, 1968. His casket was carried on this wagon. Formerly used in old time prayer meetings, the wagon symbolized Dr. King's work among the poor.

After I left the Martin Luther King Historic District, a very moving experience, I traveled across town to the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. This greeted me as I made my way from the parking lot to the museum:

Then this greeted me once I got inside:

This is a replica of a huge dinosaur found in Argentina. Actually, there are several different ones but my goal was to capture the giant one.

Do you see this 9-foot tall water jug from Sri Lanka? It made me realize how fortunate I am to have clean fresh water any time I want it. This jug collects rain water, and to access it you use the spigot near the bottom. Part of an exhibit about water, I learned many interesting facts:
  • In the USA the average person uses 151 gallons daily while in the United Kingdom a person uses only 31 gallons a day. Contrast this to Ethiopia where a person is lucky to have three gallons of water each day. How much water do you use each day? How much do you waste?
  • The United States and Canada use much more water than the residents of most other countries. Do you think this is right considering the USA comprises only 6% of the world's population? 
  • It takes 1800 gallons of water to produce one pound of ground beef. Can the earth afford our addiction to hamburgers?
  • 900 million people have no access to clean water.
  • 5,000,000 people die each year from water-related diseases because they have no access to clean drinking water.
I hope these facts and figures about water will help you remember to conserve this precious resource.
Can you guess what this is? It's a model of human DNA.

Humans are alike no matter where they live. We share many of the same goals, and we reflect our cultural in similar, yet somewhat different ways. Hats are one good example. Do you wear a hat? If so, what does it look like? Is it a ball cap? A stocking cap for winter? People wear hats to keep their heads warm but also for decorative purposes. What seems everyday to us, might seem unusual to someone from a different culture. Look at each hat below. What does each say about culture? What do the hats say about people as a whole?

Since I was a child, I have been fascinated by rocks, minerals, and fossils. My father and I used to go out hunting for unusual specimens, and I still have them. If you like rocks, minerals and fossils you can call yourself a rock hound. If you are a young child with this hobby, you can call yourself a pebble pup. Get it? Rock hound and pebble pup. When I saw this amethyst geode from Brazil, I knew I had to take a picture of it. This specimen is a fairly large one. My guess is that is was 30 inches across.

The nice thing about collecting rocks, minerals, and fossils is that they are everywhere. I've even found fossils in my own backyard! To get started in this hobby, go to your library and check out a book. It will help you identify what you have found.

Do you like gem stones? How many of these can you identify? My old friend, Morganite, is right there in the picture. Can you find it?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Atlanta: Packed with History

Dr. King was one of Atlanta's most important native sons.

The city of Atlanta, Georgia has had various names throughout its history. It began, of course, as no city at all. Native Americans used and shared the land, and a small Indian village existed. Its name translates to Standing Peachtree. (Perhaps this is why there are so many streets named Peachtree in Atlanta.) The natives did not believe that anyone could own land. After the Europeans—who had a very different view of land ownership—took the territory away from the natives in about 1822, it was named Terminus because it was the end of the line for the Western and Atlantic Railroad. Then, in 1843 the city’s name was changed to Marthasville after Governor Lumpkin’s daughter, Martha. That didn’t last long because in 1845 the Georgia General Assembly changed the name to Atlanta. In 1842 the bustling place had six buildings and 30 residents. Sadly, the Native Americans had been removed via the Trail of Tears, a dark event in our history. Today, of course, Atlanta is a huge metropolis with more than half a million residents.

Atlanta’s importance to United States history is well known. But did you know that many large corporations are headquartered in Atlanta? How many of the following have you heard of?
·      CNN
·      Coca Cola
·      Delta Airlines
·      Home Depot
·      UPS
·      Suntrust Banks
·      Moe’s Southwest Grill
·      Arby’s
·      Chick-fil-A
·      Earthlink
·      Maggie Moo’s Ice Cream and Treatery
·      Longhorn Steakhouse
·      NAPA Auto Parts
·      Popeye’s
·      Turner Broadcasting
·      The Weather Channel
·      Waffle House Restaurant

Today I visited a museum dedicated to one of them. It is all because one man, Dr. John Pemberton, a pharmacist who tinkered with various ingredients before coming up with a winner. My trip co-planner Tyler suggested that I visit The World of Coke, and early this morning I made my way there. I had planned to go yesterday afternoon, but the lines were lengthy and the wait to get in was more than an hour. I figured if I arrived when the museum opened for the day, there would be no lines and no wait; I was right. I learned quite a bit about Coca Cola, Dr. Pemberton’s invention. And, yes, he created it right here in Atlanta.

How would you like to buy something for $2300 and then later sell it for $25,000,000? Dr. Pemberton developed Coca Cola in 1886 and sold it to Asa Candler in 1888 for $2300 ($53,500 in today’s dollars). In 1919, Candler sold the company for $25,000,000 ($307,361,041.75 in today’s dollars). Not a bad investment, eh? Back in these early days, the only way to obtain a Coke was to go to a soda fountain, often found in drugstores. For a nickel the soda jerk would put one ounce of Coke syrup into a glass and then would add five ounces of soda water. But Candler then sold the rights to bottle Coke for ONE DOLLAR! (I wish I had been in on that deal.) Once Coke became portable, it took off because people could take it with them anywhere. In 1941, Coke planned to offer the soda in cans, but metal was needed for World War II so this idea was postponed until 1960. Today Coke is sold in 17 languages in a multitude of countries. The only thing I know how to read in Arabic is "Coca Cola" because when I was in Morocco, billboards advertising Coke were everywhere. The distinctively shaped bottle made it easy to figure out what was being advertised.

The World of Coke
One of the many displays
In the beginning, Cokes were sold in drugstores. The syrup was dispensed from a porcelain container like this one, and then the soda water was added. They were still using this method when I was a child but the syrup dispenser at that time was a modern one. Of course, you could get Cokes in bottles, and later in cans, but nothing tasted quite like a Coke made the old fashioned way. This also was how Cherry Coke was born. You would ask the soda jerk to have a splash of cherry syrup added to your coke and it would turn into a cherry Coke.
In Buenos Aires, Argentina this 1939 Chevrolet panel truck delivered Coke.

How do you like this nickel Coke machine?
Various ways Coke has been sold. I well remember the metal six packs at the top right.
Times changed and a Coke went up to ten cents.
Various Coke machines through the years
Enlarge this picture by clicking on it to see what is in the center of the Bingo cards.
Various Coke products from around the world
Another display

Every one of these old post cards has a Coke sign in it somewhere. Even using the magnifying glass the Coke signs in the pictures were often elusive.
Enlarge this photo to see some Coke products sold around the world. This is a tasting station.
Another tasting station. You can drink all you want for free. It's too bad I don't like soda.
Quiz Time! Guess the answers to each of the following:

1.   For _____ years the only product Coca Cola sold was Coke.
2.   Coca Cola introduced its second brand, Fanta, in Italy in what year?
3.   Today Coca Cola offers _________ (how many) brands worldwide?
4.   Coke was first bottled outside the USA in what year?
5.   Beverages produced by the Coca Cola Company are enjoyed how many times each day?
6.   The perfect temperature to enjoy a coke is _____ degrees Fahrenheit.
7.   Coke was the first soft drink drunk in outer space in what year?
8.   The Coca Cola Santa Claus has been in advertising for how many years?
9.   The fastest bottling plants can produce ______ (how many) cans of Coke per minute?

Answers are at the end of this blog entry.

My next stop was the Atlanta History Center, a fabulous museum with a multitude of exhibits including two historic homes. I spent most of my time exploring the extensive Civil War exhibit and taking guided tours of Swan House, a mansion built in 1928 and the Tullie Smith House, which was built about 1845. I’m a reader and I mainly enjoy biographies and historical accounts. Because of this, I know a bit about the American Civil War, but I still learned more today that I did not know. I believe you should continue learning throughout your entire life.

There are two questions I want you to try to answer:

1.   What is a civil war?
2.   What countries in the world have had them?

Our Civil War is so interesting you could begin reading books about it today and a few years from now you would still have books left to read. Many people call it the most important event in our country’s history. Prior to the Civil War, people used this phrase, “The United States are” showing that we were a collection of different states under the umbrella of one country. After the war, people began using a new phrase, “The United States is” illustrating that we need to consider ourselves--and be viewed by others--as one unified country.

Historical Fact: In Georgia women were not allowed to have bank accounts until 1861. What important historical event happened during this time? Think about men being gone from home for long periods, and women needing to have access to the family savings.

If you guessed the Civil War, you are right. More Americans lost their lives in the Civil War than all other wars we’ve fought combined. But, most men serving in the Civil War died of disease—mostly diarrhea—than they did in battle. In fact, for every man killed in battle, two or three died in camp.

Outside the museum was a Civil War siege cannon.

The exhibit hall was extensive. Click on each photo to enlarge it. For each one guess the theme.

Can you find out how many American solider have died in all wars we've fought since the beginning of our country?
The two historic home tours I took were an interesting study in contrasts. The first house was moved from its original site in 1969. Tullie Smith bequeathed the house to the history museum. Her grandfather built it in about 1845. Used by Union forces during the Civil War, the home survived. Even the original kitchen—a separate building in the back of the house—survived. It is interesting to note that when Yankees came calling, you’d better willingly surrender your house or else they would burn it to the ground. While most larger houses like the Tullie Smith house had the kitchen in a separate building, few of the kitchens survived because most burned down after about seven years. Cooking on an open fireplace was hazardous work.

This home was built by a farmer. The distinction between a farmer and a planter is the number of slaves owned. A farmer had less than 20 while a planter had 20 or more.

This could have been a slave's cabin.
I found a wonderful restaurant at the Atlanta History Center. It was located in the old coach house of the Inman mansion. Here is today's lunchtime fare.

Chicken salad is one of the restaurant's specialties as is the frozen fruit salad. It was unlike anything I've ever eaten, and I loved it. Now, I must find the recipe ...
Chicken Curry and Frozen Fruit Salad
In the mid 1920s, Edward Inman, a wealthy Atlanta businessman who had inherited a fortune, decided to build a mansion for comfortable living. At the time he and his wife were in their forties and were planning a home for retirement. They hired renowned architect, Philip Shutze, to design the home. As Mrs. Inman worked with him, she expressed her love of birds, especially swans. Shutze used the swan throughout the house as a decorating feature. Thus, the name, Swan House was born. Upkeep of a mansion requires a lot of staff, and Swan House had a cook, a butler, a gardener, and two maids. These workers put in long hours--up to 16 hours per day--and were on call 24 hours a day.

I was not allowed to take any photographs of the interior of Swan House, which is a shame because it was lovely. As you enter the main hall you face a gorgeous two-ton floating staircase that sweeps in a curve to the second floor. The elegant dining room is as large as many city apartments. The entryway and main hall are tiled in alternating black and white Italian marble squares. When the Inmans lived there, only visitors were allowed to step on the black marble squares. To preserve the black marble, which would more readily show wear or damage, family members were required to step only on the white squares. Recently restored to its original splendor, the house is a majestic peek of how the wealthy lived not so long ago.

This side of the house, the front, was in the Italianate style.

The back of the house was in the English style.
Quiz Answers

1.     70
2.     1955
3.     500
4.     1906
5.     1,600,000,000
6.     36
7.     1985
8.     75
9.     2,200