It’s good to be home after an excellent road trip with Red Car to Atlanta with return through north Georgia and the mountains of NC.
At the Atlanta History Center gift shop, the clerk pronounced “Atlanta” without the t’s: “Alana.” Try it. Pronounce the first “a” like “ah.” The “a” in the “-lan” syllable is a dipthong. Pronounce it with quickly sound short vowels “a,” “e,” “u” and end the word with a schwa: “Ah-laeu-ne.” Beautiful.
The World of Coca-Cola. An annoying, goofy docent welcomes groups, introducing himself and the tour and having the participants tell from where we are visiting. Awful. Then we are herded to a theatre in which a film relates how life is enhanced by the enjoyment of Coca-Cola. The soundtrack is over-amplified, and the animation is frenetic, and had not the docent explained what the film was about, I may have missed the point. After we were dismissed from the viewing, we were on the so-called self-guided part of the tour, though in one other exhibit, The Secret Ingredient, docents moved us through rooms, which were self-consciously high tech, each tempting us with learning the secret ingredient of Coca-Cola. Of the other exhibits, which were self-directed, I enjoyed the Perfect Pauses Theater, where we saw Coca-Cola television advertisements from past decades and from several other countries and the Tasting Room, in which we could taste Coke products from over sixty countries. The tour ended with our receiving a free small bottle of Coke and an exit through a gift shop.
The Margaret Mitchell House. Billed as “The Birthplace of Gone with the Wind,” the large house had been subdivided into ten apartments before Mitchell and her husband moved there. Their apartment, #1, still has the tag on the door that reads, Mr. and Mrs. John Ross. Entry is into a cozy, some might say crowded, living room. On a small table is a portable typewriter on which the novel was written. There is a phonograph but no telephone and, of course, no television. There is a small hallway, with a bathroom opening on it, which leads to a small bedroom, one bed, two dressers, and a table set for two, where the couple dined. The bedroom opens into a closet-sized kitchen. In such a small place, Mitchell dreamed and typed a novel of epic scope.
The Joel Chandler Harris house. The Wren’s Nest. When we drove into the driveway, we noticed a school bus and bemoaned our timing. It worked to our advantage, because in the parlor a storyteller was telling the young elementary school students stories of Uncle Remus. From my seat in the hall, I could not see the story teller, but I was amazed that he was holding the children spell-bound. I saw only the children’s faces, and they were smiling and interested, totally absorbed by his story telling. I felt that was remarkable when children today are so enthralled by television and video games. Our tour was with an elderly docent, who had been housekeeper for the family for decades, and there was much good information about furnishings, architecture, and family life there. Unlike Margaret Mitchell, whose typewriter and table were under a ceiling radiator (the docent said that she like to be tropical warm), Harris wrote his stories on the large wrap-around porch.
One thing I learned not to do on the trip: Eat the free breakfast at La Quinta and Quality Inns. The food is not tasty and the setting is horrible. A television blares self-righteous and unreflecting people carping about politics. Who would willing start the day with such noise and annoyance? After I left Atlanta, I did not.
Mass at Saint Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, Smyrna, GA, October 14. Congregants sits on three sides. There is a welcoming, warm atmosphere. Natural light comes through clear glass windows. A ceiling, made of Georgia pine, slopes from a pitch. The music and liturgy give an awareness of the knowledge and joy of God-with-us. Two screens present scenes of Nature with lyrics to responses and hymns. The choir does a convincing presentation of Psalm 90. The Eucharistic music is “O Taste and See.” The homily was thoughtful and interesting. The priest’s use of metaphor in explanations and examples enabled worshippers to interpret the scripture according to individual circumstance. Mass is a beautiful worhip experience. It fulfills a human need to praise in a structured, joyful, and uplifting manner. It was a blessing of the trip.
When I came up to Macon County, out of the north Georgia hills, which are beautiful (I could disappear there), I drove west of US 64 to Murphy. In our state, a slogan says that the state runs from Murphy to Manteo (Hwy 64 joins the two), and I had not visited Murphy. The drive through the Nantahala National Forest is worth the trip, but on the other side of the forest, I was not impressed. There is much poverty in Clay and Cherokee Counties, and there are signs procaliming “Jesus” and “Repentance.” The massed colors in the mountains were beautiful, but they are no more beautiful than here in the Piedmont.
There is a maple tree in my neighborhood that is blazing yellow and gold and orange and red, and should something happpen to the tree, there should be a time of mourning for beauty lost.
Another blessing at home. Monday, as I walked through a department store, a small child, carried by his father with the child’s face over the father’s shoulder, caught my eye. He was looking at me, smiling. When I smiled back, the child’s smile grew broader and his eyes sparkled, though he made no sound. I, too, smiled broader, and then the father turned down the other aisle. The smile made my day. I did not see the father, only his back, and the smiling child looking back. I will remember the experience for a long while.
It is a powerful experience to read the works of Thomas Wolfe. When I was a senior in high school, I read Look Homeward, Angel and I thought it was one of the grandest things I had ever known. I re-read it decades later and was likewise moved. I have started to read Of Time and the River. The novel is divided into eight books, and I have finished Book I. Wolfe makes vivid the experience of a young man waiting for a train to take him to Boston, to begin studies at Harvard, with a stop in Baltimore to visit his dying father. His talking with his mother and sister and another relative shows the need for his moving on. (The book is entitled, “Orestes: Flight Before Fury.”) There is a powerful desciption of the arriving train. Modernism is illustrated in the use of language to indicate the motion and sound of the train during the travel. There is good satire of businessmen in the smoking car, discussing business and politics (whoever wins will be good for the country), and pages of lyrical description of moonlight in Virginia. The book ends with the young man and his brother visiting the dying father. The scene is moving, powerful, not sentimental. I don’t want the book to end, and it will not any time soon!
Thank you for reading. I hope your upcoming week will be good.