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Our 2019 Road Trip, Part 13: Peanuts to President to Peacemaker

Cap and Carter!

Captain America salutes President Jimmy Carter in 1980 near the downswing of America’s energy crisis. Art by Marvel Bullpen staffer John Tartaglione; autograph by Stan Lee.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. My son tagged along from 2003 until 2013 when he ventured off to college. We’ve taken two trips by airplane, but are much happier when we’re the ones behind the wheel — charting our own course, making unplanned stops anytime we want, availing ourselves of slightly better meal options, and keeping or ruining our own schedule as dictated by circumstances or whims. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

For years we’ve been telling friends in other states that we’d one day do Atlanta’s Dragon Con, one of the largest conventions in America that isn’t in California or New York. We’d been in Atlanta, but we hadn’t really done Atlanta. Hence this year’s vacation, in which we aimed for a double proficiency in Atlanta tourism and over-the-top Dragon Con goodness. Before we went to D*C, there was the road trip to get there, and the good times to be had before the great times at the big show.

Longtime MCC readers will recall last year’s road trip focused on Presidential burial sites. Thus far into our travels we’ve seen the final resting places of 22 men who served 23 Presidencies (blame Chester Arthur for making the count so weird). This year we found an opportunity to visit a set of grounds honoring another President at Atlanta’s own Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum.

Mind you, Carter isn’t dead yet. At age 95 he and his wife Rosalynn, age 92, the two of them now married 73 years and counting, are very much alive and staying far more active than many of us internet dwellers. Sooner or later the Lord will call him home, but for now we haven’t checked him off our list. It’s worth noting this wasn’t our first time visiting the museum of a still-living President. We had a similar experience with Gerald Ford, who didn’t pass away until four years after our 2002 drive to his museum in Grand Rapids. That means Ford hasn’t been checked off yet, either. One day, Grand Rapids, we shall have to meet again.


Carter's Seed Peanuts!

50-pound bag from the old Carter family peanut farm.

Anyway: Jimmy Carter. Folks used to snicker about his upbringing on his dad’s peanut farm, which he took over for a time after a stint in the Navy. “HAW HAW, PRESIDENT PEANUT!” they laughed, years before someone would invent “LOL” and make such sentiments sound even dumber. Snobbish disdain for an American President from underfunded upbringing didn’t keep Lincoln out of office, among others of various social standings. Would his detractors really have preferred that every elected “leader of the free world” be a selfish multimillionaire fatcat?

peanuts for sale!

Naturally the gift shop has peanuts for sale. Consider this your allergy warning.

In hindsight his overall performance during his single term — which he won by running against the guy who pardoned Richard Nixon — may have fallen far short of Best Presidency Ever by a noticeable margin. If you do the reading, though, Carter’s accomplishments over the past 48 years after exiting office have proven there’s far, far more to life than accumulating wealth or political power. Between his longtime affiliation with the Habitat for Humanity charity, his frequent work in international diplomacy, his staunch support for civil rights, the thirty books he’s written, and the humanitarian causes that have received his contributions and support…his Presidency was just one meager, early chapter in a long and fruitful life of service and love. For him, the best was yet to come.

Navy Class of 47!

One of our many Presidents with a military record, Carter was supposed to be in the Navy’s Class of ’47 but graduated a year early. For a time he even served on submarines.

Rush hour was thankfully over by the time we drove from the Center for Puppetry Arts down to Carter’s place. Opened in 1986, the Center tells much of Carter’s life story, places it in historical context, and features that unexpected, awesome exhibit we previously shared about Hollywood film productions in Georgia. We had much to see and learn.

Carter campaign shirts!

Souvenirs from his ’76 Presidential campaign. His running mate Walter Mondale (still with us today at age 91) later ran for the same office in 1984 against incumbent Ronald Reagan and was stomped into the dirt, but made history as the first major-party candidate to select a woman as his running mate — New York Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro.

Oval Office!

As with the Presidential museum of Rutherford Hayes, Carter’s has a replica of the Resolute Desk. Like Frankin Roosevelt’s in Hyde Park and William McKinley’s in Ohio, we see the President’s office decorations of choice. Carter’s goes one step beyond and recreates the White House Oval Office itself.

office statues!

A few statues to liven up the place.

glass horse!

“O God, thy sea is so great and my boat is so small” is among the plentiful indicators of Carter’s faith and testimony. Also: glass horsie!

THE BUCK STOPS HERE!

“THE BUCK STOPS HERE!” is a thing leaders used to say when they had the moral fortitude to accept accountability.

Star Wars banner!

Other artifacts from Carter’s term in general include movie memorabilia from 1977. Stop me if you know this one.

Coke in China!

On Carter’s watch, Atlanta’s own Coca-Cola Company became among the first American corporations to do business in China. Forty years later…well, that certainly has become quite the dinner-party discussion topic, I must say.

Rosalynn June 1979!

Meanwhile, Rosalynn kept herself plenty busy, determined never to stand by and act the mere Concerned Wife. This was her work schedule in June 1979.

Nutcracker Carter!

Every American President receives gifts from foreign dignitaries. It’s all part of the diplomacy game. This Carter nutcracker hails from Germany.

ostrich egg!

This ostrich egg covered with rhinestones and lace sits atop a music-box base that plays “Hail to the Chief”.

Gold Box!

This gold box was a 1978 gift from the Shah of Iran. Grim tidings in his homeland would eventually help doom Carter’s lackluster 1980 Presidential campaign.

Peace Shield!

“The Peace Shield” was a gift to Carter from the Egyptian General Association for the Preservation of the Qur’an.

Crown of St. Stephen!

The original Crown of St. Stephen had rested upon the head of every king of Hungary since the 12th century until after World War II, when it was transported to America for safekeeping from the Russians. Carter ordered its return in 1978 at a point when the Cold War had calmed down a tad. Twenty years later he was thanked with this replica keepsake.

Presidential Medals of Freedom!

After Carter bestowed numerous Presidential Medals of Freedom during his term, he and Rosalynn received their own in 1999 from President Bill Clinton.

Nobel Peace Prize 2002!

Carter’s Nobel Peace Prize, won in 2002 after criticizing the Bush administration’s post-9/11 war plans. His acceptance speech also touched on his opposition to the death penalty.

Gates Award 2006!

The good works performed by his nonprofit, the Carter Center, in the realm of disease treatment and eradication in third-world countries earned him this 2006 Gates Award for Global Health from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Grammy!

Nobody ever talks about Three-Time Grammy Award Winner Jimmy Carter. This one was his first, in 2007 for the audiobook version of Our Endangered Values: America’s Moral Crisis.

International Observer badges!

In their 80s, Jimmy and Rosalynn wore these badges as International Observers monitoring 2009 elections in Lebanon.

Peanuts to President!

A few events were recounted, surely tongue-in-cheek, in this board game…which covered only part of his story. Arguably the least interesting half of it.

To be continued!

* * * * *

[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for other chapters and for our complete road trip history to date. Follow us on Facebook or via email sign-up for new-entry alerts, or over on Twitter if you want to track my TV live-tweeting and other signs of life between entries. Thanks for reading!]

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