Today was a busy one, spanning thousands of years of history. We started at the Ocmulgee National Monument, which contains Indian mounds and relics of Native American habitation from over 17,000 years ago. Thanks to our guy FDR, the area was properly secured and documented by the WPA/CCC in the 30’s. The centerpiece is the Earth Lodge, which is a partial reconstruction of the underground room where the big chief sat with his executive committee. It is 42 feet in diameter, and is positioned so that the opening is exactly on the east/west axis, and on February 22 and October 22, the sunrise channels directly through the opening onto the chief’s seat. Very reminiscent of many prehistoric mound sites, such as Newgrange, our very favorite in Ireland, which pre-dates Stonehenge.
What added to the experience was the Art Deco visitors’ center, which has Indian symbols around its lovely curved walls.
Next, for something entirely different, we went to Andalusia, family home of the writer Flannery O’Connor. Here she spent the last 13 years of her life, living with her mother and suffering from lupus, which killed her at the age of 39. A wonderful Southern writer, one I think we need to revisit. There is a charming inscription which you may not be able read on one of her own childhood books, Five Little Peppers and How They Grew: “This is a first rate book an it blongs to M.F. O’Connor an dont fiddle with it!” (I agree with her assessment of that very book.) But the sweetest part is that she is clearly not forgotten in her home state, judging from a bumper sticker we saw on our next stop.
That stop was Milledgeville. Never heard it? Well, it was the capital of Georgia before that guy Sherman spent the night in what was then the Governor’s Mansion. After that mess got cleared up, they all allowed as how Atlanta was much more of an up-and-coming city, so the government moved there. This building has been beautifully restored, with many pieces from the various governors who did live here returned over the years. And I’ll just throw in another bumper sticker to prove they have a sense of humor in Milledgeville, which is right close to Rome, Georgia.
Finally, we went to the museum that commemorates another real storyteller, preceding Flannery by a few years. That was Joel Chandler Harris, author of the Uncle Remus stories, written during his days on the Atlanta Constitution. This was not his home, which is in Atlanta, but a tribute in his birthplace, Eatontown, home also to the writer Alice Walker. What’s in the water here? It was a touching tribute to a man who helped preserved the stories and dialect of another time and another place, as many of his stories came down from African slaves, who adapted them to their new world.