Jimmy Carter might have put Plains, GA on the map, but you wouldn't know it as you drive seemingly to the middle of nowhere in rural Georgia.
The first hint that Plains is something other than a small agricultural town is the state-built Welcome Center just outside of town.And they were promoting their peanuts as much as Jimmy Carter.
In addition to the free peanuts, I also received this nice map with instructions on how best to conduct my tour.
My self-guided tour began at Plains High School, where both President and Mrs Carter graduated.
The high school now houses the Visitor Center and museum operated by the National Park Service.
I was told that Rosalynn Carter graduated Valedictorian, while Jimmy was Salutatorian of his class due to having skipped a week of school.Two rooms have been restored to how they looked in the 1930s. This was the Principal's Office.
And one of Jimmy Carter's classrooms.
Outside the classroom were coatracks and lunch pails.
The rest of the museum detailed the story of Carter's Presidency.
This is a copy of the desk in the Oval Office....of course the real one is still there.
About the desk.
Across the street from the high school is the Plains Baptist Church. Jimmy Carter was baptized here, and his family attended this church when he was growing up. The Carters attended services here until they left for Washington in 1977.
Driving out to see the church where he now attends, we pass a 10-foot smiling peanut, originally erected as a campaign mascot.Maranatha Baptist Church was established when the Plains Baptist congregation split in the late 1970s. Jimmy and Rosalynn have been members here since 1981. The former president made some of the furniture and the collection plates. He still teaches Sunday School here.
Our tour continues to the Main Street business district. These brick buildings were built in the 1980s. Downtown Plains remains little changed since Carter's youth.
The Golden Peanut Company was formerly the Carter Warehouse complex.
The old Carter Peanut Warehouse.
Inside the store is everything peanut.
Free samples of peanuts and peanut candy.
After my free sample of peanut butter ice cream, Thistle and I enjoyed a cone.
Each historic building had a plaque describing its history.
The Carter family influence was everywhere.
This store seems to have its original threshold and floor.
Murals on the side of the pharmacy.
Across the street was a service station once owned by the President's brother.
THe depot became Carter's campaign headquarters.
I found out that if I had been here an hour earlier, I would have seen and heard the former president give a speech from this platform.
Apparently there was once a dog that hung around the depot that got named, J-Who? He has his own memorial here. I like the humor of it.
Side view of the depot.
From town our tour takes us 3 miles out of town to the Carter Boyhood Farm.
Hard to imagine anyone allowing a young child to do that these days.
About the farm.THis reminded me of my own father who never let me have a horse on our farm because it wouldn't earn its keep.
The front of the house.
Jimmy Carter in the upper left.
The back porch showing the pecan grove in the background.Apparently Jimmy's mother did her ironing on the back porch too.
The kitchen with wood stove.
Jimmy's bedroom. There was a bookcase in another corner full of books.
When they got indoor plumbing for a bathroom, the shower was made from a bucket with holes. Cold water only.
Formal dining room used for holidays and special occasions.Breakfast room and informal family dining. Reading was encouraged, even at meal time.
About the living room:
THe money from the pecan grove went to Mrs. Carter.
Surprisingly to me, beside the house was a tennis court.Side view of the farm house showing clay tennis court.
Next to the house was a farm store operated by the Carters.The store was only open on weekends, but if anyone needed something during the week they could knock at the house and one of the family would open it.
The family garden plot. I believe that's Collard greens growing.
The barns....in the foreground was the milking barn.Small blacksmith shop.
Inside the blacksmith shop.
Throughout the farm there were buttons to push to hear Jimmy Carter reminisce about his childhood here in his own words and voice.
About the hired help.
The Clark home.
Jack and Rachel Clark
When they came back to Plains they bought a one-story house with 12 acres that still make up the family compound. The small white building is the gate-house at the entrance.
The house and compound are closed to the public and protected by Secret Service.
Some of the grounds with a pond in the background.
You can just glimpse the house through the trees.
A photo of the house.
But if you want to be their neighbor, there's a modest house for sale across the street.
Whether one agrees with the politics of Jimmy Carter or not, he and the National Park Service have done a wonderful job of preserving his story and the town. All of the tours are free...you don't even need your Golden Age Pass.