As a journalist in the late 1970s I developed a fondness for Plains, Georgia.
It was the hometown of our peanut-farmer president, Jimmy Carter, and a place where I could get a quote out of his mother Lillian; sister Ruth, or better-yet, brother Billy, good enough to hang a story on, if I asked the right questions.
I remember rather unfondly that long drive to Plains from the Atlanta airport, but more pleasantly I remember the feeling I always got in Plains that this president was of decent, albeit a little wacky sometimes, stock.
The 39th president of the U.S., James Earl Carter was for me the most down-to-earth leader this country has had in my lifetime. He was a former Georgia Senator and Governor, but somehow didn’t act like others of the political establishment in this country at that time, or now. He was maybe too down-to-earth and too naïve to get himself reelected, unfortunately. He got shellacked by the first actor this country has elevated to the highest office, Ronald Reagan.
In recent years I have found his comments and opinions about the politics and politicians of the day sometimes pretty irrelevant and often just plain wrong, but there is one thing I cannot fault him for at all and that has been the way he, along with wife Rosalyn, has led his life as a former president.
Just this past March, with the passing of George H.W. Bush, Carter became the country’s oldest living former president. Still a Sunday school teacher at his church, Carter’s continued peacekeeping and humanitarian work since leaving office have gained him a lot of admirers. The image of him in hardhat at a Habitat for Humanity house-building site is perhaps what most people will remember of him when he is long gone.
So there was no question when I was traveling up to Atlanta from Florida a few weeks ago with some spare time on my hands that I would take the detour to Plains to spend the afternoon. Enjoy the photos.