Around the World... One Journey at a Time. Around the World... One Journey at a Time.

Across the U.S.: Day 27

by Kathy 17. August 2009 14:25

<< Day 25 and 26: Resaca, Georgia  | Days 28 and 29: Rock Hill, South Carolina >>

Resaca to Rock Hill, South Carolina


This morning I said a sad goodbye to my Uncle James, cousin Michael, Tammy, Amanda and the rest of the family. Their roots run deep here, all tangled in the earth with the other tendrils from multiple generations who choose to stay and live in the same community. I have always felt the pull to skip along the surface of the earth, perhaps extending out a root here and there at times, but needing the freedom to be in motion. I marvel at those who thrive when planted, and I celebrate the diversity (including that within my own family!) that makes this world such an amazing place.

This morning we were off to visit Atlanta to see the birth home of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which is something that Sebastian had requested. We also had plans to take Genevieve for a long-anticipated visit to the American Girl store outside of Atlanta. Then we would be driving to our final destination, Rock Hill, South Carolina, where we would watch the July 4th fireworks with my parents, as well as my younger sister and her family.

Leaving Resaca, we passed this church with its neatly maintained cemetery.

Looks like this family is ready for a big garage sale:

This very old home used to have a big front porch and is in the process of being renovated. It was recently place on a “historical buildings” list:

Because our schedule today was tight, we took the freeway on our way south to Atlanta. The drive took an hour and a half. Here is our first glimpse of the city:

Closer still:

At the entrance to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site:

Outside of the visitor’s center, there was a statue of Gandhi, whose nonviolence philosophies shaped Dr. King’s tactics of nonviolence resistance in his leadership efforts to desegregate the South and obtain equal rights for African-Americans.

Sebastian had been excited about the prospect of touring the birth home of Dr. King. Before the trip, I had learned that public tours start at 9:30 a.m.; reservations must be made in person at the visitor’s center and are granted on a first-come-first-served basis.

We were surprised to see hundreds of people visiting the King memorial today. Apparently, this is a popular day for family reunion groups to gather here. We arrived at the tour desk at 9:20, but the morning tours were already booked solid.

Sebastian was very disappointed.

However, we walked down the street and viewed the outside of Dr. King’s birth home.

Plaques outside the home informed us that Dr. King had lived here until he was 12 years old. The 14-room home had been built in 1895 and belonged to Dr. King’s maternal grandparents. The grandparents lived on the bottom floor, and Dr. King lived with his parents and his siblings on the top floor. His father was the pastor of the Ebenezer church, and Dr. King grew up in a stable, loving, and comfortable home.

On the same side of the street as Dr. King’s home were other large homes in various states of disrepair. (All of the homes on this street are now owned by the National Park Service.)

Across from Dr. King’s middle-class home was a row of duplexes that had once been occupied by less affluent families.

These homes had been built by a local textile company to house its blue-collar European-American workers in the early 1900’s. However, after the Atlanta race riots of 1906, the homes had been rented by African-American families. The homes were generally one room wide and four rooms deep. Because the front and back doors were in a straight alignment, which would presumably allow a single bullet to enter and exit the house in one sweep, the houses were nicknamed “shotgun” houses. They were now owned by the government and were part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Historical Site.

We also visited Dr. King’s tomb, where his body rests beside that of his wife, Coretta Scott King.

Here are Genevieve and Sebastian sitting in front of the eternal flame, across from Dr. King’s tomb. (Some family reunion groups are in the background, with their matching T-shirts.)

We returned to the visitor’s center to watch a movie called “Children of Courage”, which told the story of how children’s efforts helped to end segregation. Genevieve had been asking a lot of questions today about why there had still been laws denying African-Americans equal rights in the 1960’s (so long after the end of the Civil War), how equal rights were achieved, and why there was racism. The movie helped to answer some of her questions. While I did my best to explain my opinions about certain issues, there is no definitive answer to why there was, and still is, racism.

I am so glad that Genevieve and Sebastian are both asking questions and thinking about social and legal issues. The history of our wonderful country is very complex and involves heroism and sacrifice, as well as atrocities that were committed against many ethnic groups and women. I try to openly discuss historical events and to engage the children in thinking about history from different perspectives.

On our way out of Atlanta, we drove by the Olympic torch, built for the 1996 Summer Olympics.

Our next stop was the American Girl store in Alpharetta, Georgia. We have always tried to expose Genevieve to all kinds of toys, never labeling anything as a “girl toy” or “boy toy.” She never showed a huge interest in dolls until she was 8 years old, when she discovered the American Girl dolls. When we started planning this trip a year ago, Genevieve started saving her money for the opportunity to visit the American Girl store near Atlanta. For her birthday and Christmas gifts, she had requested American Girl gift certificates so that she would be able to choose some special things at the store. She had brought her doll Julie along with us on the RV trip.

Genevieve was very excited to have finally arrived!

We had fun roaming the entire store and talking about all of the possible things that Genevieve could buy.

Genevieve’s doll Julie met her identical siblings.

In the end, Genevieve splurged on a large tree house, which she had wistfully considered many times while looking through the American Girl catalogs.

Julie also got a new braided hair style at the doll salon.

We had a special lunch at the American Girl bistro, which was surprisingly good.

Sebastian actually had a good time in the store. I think that he was a bit perplexed by the store assistants who repeatedly told him that his “suffering” would soon be over. His “look” in this photo (much more powerful than words) is directly related to me taking a photo of him, and not from any impatience or anguish from being surrounded by girls and dolls.

Julie was still getting her hair done during our lunch, so Genevieve got to select a lunch companion from the many dolls at the entrance to the restaurant. Here is Genevieve showing her new friend the lunch menu.

And here they are dining together.

Sebastian enjoyed his spaghetti and meatballs.

Genevieve was very happy when we left the store. She said that the experience was even better than she had anticipated. (And that is saying a lot, as she had held very high expectations!)

The drive to Rock Hill would take 4½ hours if we went on the interstate. However, after 20 minutes of trees and billboards and big trucks, I needed to step up the “enjoyment factor” a notch or two, even if it meant adding extra time onto our drive. I checked my map and found a smaller road that squiggled along through various towns. What a relief. The road started out as 4 lanes, like the interstate, but it passed by many homes and businesses and allowed us to catch snippets of how people lived here.

At one point, our road started paralleling some railroad tracks. In Colbert, Georgia, we passed a restored caboose.

I just loved being on this two-lane country road.

Comer, Georgia, welcomed us with a sign that told us “Make Our Town Your Town”. Although Comer seemed like a pleasant enough place, with its range of neighborly porches, we declined the offer.

“Mi-Lady” Beauty Shop:

A local watermelon stand:

The tree trunks were piled high at a lumber mill:

There was a new grain elevator, with railroad tracks being laid.

Carlton, Georgia had a new stone and metal “welcome” sign:

Today we saw countless small brick churches, of varying Protestant denominations:

Other buildings that we passed:

Near the town of Elberton, we passed the “Cars” cast hanging out in the sun. From left to right: Luigi, Sarge, Sally, Tractor/Cow, a Rusteez van, the King, and a few cars in the background.

We were so surprised by this creative display that we had to turn around and do another drive-by.

Here they are: the King (painted on the light blue half), Lightning McQueen (painted on the red half), Guido, a Rusteez van, Mater, Mack, Doc Hudson, and Fillmore the hippy van.

A few buildings on the outskirts of Elberton:

Elberton had an older district downtown . . .

. . . as well as a more generic “anywhere USA” stretch, offering us 2-for-1 sausage biscuits and other deals. (We didn’t stop.)

We crossed over Lake Richard Russell, which delineates the boundary between Georgia and South Carolina.

“Welcome to South Carolina!”

This man was riding down the middle of the road with his shirt over his face—perhaps he was protecting his face from gnats or other bugs . . . or maybe he was trying to make himself more noticeable so that he wouldn’t get run over. He definitely caught our attention.

On the edge of Lake Greenwood, this home had been built in what appeared to be the start of a new subdivision.

The lake was beautiful.

Outside of Clinton, South Carolina, we passed a gravestone shop with a sign in front saying, “Taking orders for July 3rd and 4th.” Hmmmm, I don’t think that we’ll be placing any orders today.

Clinton had a lot of huge, older homes.

It is also the site of Presbyterian College, which was founded in 1880 by a Presbyterian minister who wanted to address the educational and social needs of local Civil War orphans.

Downtown Clinton:

The other side of town had much smaller homes:

A brand new school was being constructed on the outer edge of Clinton:

Our little road wound up and down, over small rolling hills, and through the Sumter National Forest.

In the teensy town of Carlisle, the Country Kitchen Pies shop was closed.

The Old English restaurant looked like it was closed today too.

This nearby home looked vacant and neglected.

Along the way, we found this interesting brick tower in the midst of a manicured cemetery.

These tanker train cars were waiting to be filled:

The Pryor School was a one-room schoolhouse that operated from 1898 to 1958.

We arrived in Rock Hill around 7:00 p.m. My mother had supper waiting for us. Yum. Then we drove to meet my younger sister Karen, whose husband (Trent) is a volunteer firefighter at the Flint Hill Fire Department. Karen had invited us to watch the fireworks tonight from the fire station.

Karen and her middle son, Benjamin (12 years old):

The children really had fun climbing on the ladder truck, especially being on top in the “bucket.”

Trent let Sebastian and Genevieve climb into the cab and turn on the emergency lights.

From the front of the fire engine, we watched the brilliant fireworks explode high in the sky.

Happy Fourth of July!


<< Day 25 and 26: Resaca, Georgia  | Days 28 and 29: Rock Hill, South Carolina >>

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Comments (2) -

12/3/2010 8:50:28 PM #

John Bledsoe

Dear Folks, I wish we could have traveled alongside with you, through Georgia and South Carolina.  You passed through "home territory," circa 1945-1950. The town of Comer is where cousins lived; the road through the Sumpter National Forest passes by my childhood home. All the photographs are beautiful, and, the commentary is fun to read.  Thanks for sharing this.  John  

John Bledsoe United States | Reply

12/4/2010 8:47:27 AM #


John, we really enjoyed our drive through your home-town area!  I was born in the Appalachian Mountains and have an affinity for small towns and 2-lane roads that twist through the woods.  The Georgia/South Carolina area was certainly beautiful.  Thank you so much for your comments, and we are glad that you liked our photo-story!  Kathy  

Kathy United States | Reply

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Places We’ve Been, w/Quick Links

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Anais Nin