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Joining the Peanut Brigade

Posted on April 28th, 2020 by

Blog post by Development and Marketing Manager Rachel Kassman. To read more posts from Rachel, click here.

Right at the end of February I got to visit Atlanta for the wedding of some dear friends (it was a fantastic event) and had decided to make it a real vacation, adding a few days before and after to enjoy some of what Atlanta has to offer. In making my tourist destination decisions, I decided to see what I could do only traversing on foot – and lo and behold, the perfect spot popped up on my phone’s map app: The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum, less than 2 miles from my accommodations for the week!

Despite a chilly start to the day (I woke up to a 33-degree morning – two degrees colder than Baltimore on the same day!), the skies were clear and sunny, and I had come prepared with cold weather outerwear. After a brief stop for coffee at a local café, I headed over to the Museum to see what I could learn.

Entrance to the Carter Presidential Center, courtesy of Wikimedia.

Confession time: I am not a particular student of American presidential history, and beyond selling his peanut farm and retiring to a life of building houses for those in need, I knew very little about James Earl Carter Jr., 39th president of the USA. Happily, after purchasing my ticket and grabbing a map, I stepped into the introductory experience of the Museum – a short film biography of President Carter. I rarely stop for video experiences while traversing an exhibit, but since this was stop one, and the gentleman who sold me my ticket intimated the video was a required part of entry, I sat down to enjoy the show.

I’m glad I did – the film was concise and well-paced. From early days in Plains, Georgia through a vigorous retirement to world affairs, I moved into the Museum itself with a solid foundation on Jimmy’s life and work, thanks to the intro film.

Of course, as a Museum professional, I can’t help myself – when I go into another Museum I always have my eye out looking for neat interactives, exhibit armature (the ways things are displayed and built), and interesting choices made by exhibit designers and curators about what to display. The Carter Presidential Center did not disappoint!

There were multiple ways to interact with the exhibit:

One example is this manual flip-up station – there were multiple stations similar to this throughout the exhibit, set at kid height and, as you can see here, brightly colored and stylized.

Each one was focused on helping visitors connect the exhibit – and the experiences of President Carter – to their own lives. This interactive asks visitors to consider President Carter’s lifelong commitment to helping others.

Another station highlighted Carter’s love of reading as a child, sharing some of his favorite books and asking which ones the visitor may have read and remembered.

Like the interactive above, the next station exemplifies connecting material in the exhibit directly to the interactive. Slightly earlier in the exhibit, one of the personal items on display was this Argus Rangefinder camera that belonged to Carter during his Navy years.

As you move through the exhibit you then encounter this Naval submarine station – all those wheels and buttons and knobs turn and press! The center pillar represents a submarine periscope and in the viewfinder ports you can watch a slide show of photos taken by Carter with his Rangefinder camera.

But perhaps my favorite hands-on spot in the exhibit was the archival research section.

Not only was there a digital interactive screen for exploring archival documents related to President Carter, but a whole wall of “archival box” drawers you could investigate! It’s rare to see the sort of behind-the-scenes collections storage and materials most often associated with “serious researchers” front-and-center for folks of all ages to enjoy. It definitely made my museum professional heart happy.

I am also a sucker for exhibits that feature the small(er) details of a life, particularly when it helps ground almost mythic figures (like an American president) in the realities of day to day life. Two things that caught my eye were this delicate baby sweater hand embroidered by Rosalyn Carter and this engraved compact, a gift to Rosalyn from her husband. The engraving reads “ILYTG,” which means I love you the goodest.

I also enjoyed the wide array of gifts President Carter received during his presidency, from all over the world – and right at home, like the beaded belt buckle in the top left corner here. It was made by a student at St. Michael’s School in North Dakota and depicts Carter’s signature peanut!

(Though my favorite/most terrifying peanut artifact has to be this political support poster – this toothy peanut has started to haunt my dreams!)

And how about this “Shalom Y’All” plaque? Really reminds me of a certain custom mug available online at Esther’s Place….#ShalomHon. The plaque here was a gift from the crew of a U.S. transport plane that flew Carter to the Middle East in March 1979.

One of my absolute favorite Museum displays are textiles that include photos of the material actually being worn – like these inauguration outfits worn by the Carter family as they walked down Pennsylvania Avenue (the first and only presidential family to do so since Thomas Jefferson)!

And of course, I had to snap a quick selfie in the replica Oval Office before heading out to enjoy the rest of my time in Atlanta.

While you can’t pop down to Atlanta and visit in-person yourself right now, you CAN take a virtual tour!


Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Traveling with Grace: from Asheville to Home

Posted on November 26th, 2019 by

This week, our #TravelTuesday series, Traveling with Grace, takes us on the final leg of Grace’s 1940 journey! To read more of Grace’s travels, click here.

A Big Black Bear along the Road, Great Smoky Mountains National Park GSMNP, North Carolina NC, Tennessee TN, Vintage Wildlife Postcard, 1940s. Image via.

Tues. Aug. 20. We started at 10 o’clock to go to the Great Smokies National Park. The weather was perfect and everything is so beautifully green. We went thru the Cherokee Indian reservation and on up to Newfound Gap and Clingman’s Dome altitude about 6,642 ft. On the way down we ate our box lunches and just as we had finished a big black bear came strolling up the road with a forest ranger in pursuit trying to get him off the road as he feared a possible accident with one of the cars. We threw the bear a couple of apples which he chewed up daintily and we followed him back up the road as he was such a curiosity. The next tidbit he found was a watermelon rind which he munched in rapturously, drooling as he ate. Later on we saw so many bears including a family of father, mother, and several cubs fording a stream and others climbing up in the trees, also a few opossums.

Vintage 1940s postcard – The Highway Tunnels in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Image via.

We went up to Gatlinburg on the Tennessee side and then returned by the same way. The road goes thru several tunnels in the mts. and at one place forms a know going thru a tunnel and winding right on top of it. We completed the round trip of 220 mile and returned to the hotel about 6. It was too much for Carolyn and she went right to bed without any dinner but the rest of us enjoyed ours as we were very hungry.

Beaver Lake, Lakeview Park, Asheville, North Carolina. Image via.

Wed. Aug. 21. This afternoon we went to call on Carolyn’s friend May Haven and her little boy. We had quite a time finding the house but with our usual perseverance finally located it and had a pleasant visit there. Later we rode out thru the Beaver Lake section and Lakeview Park where the best residences are. Tonight Major Haven called on us at the hotel.

Asheville Regional Airport, c. 1940-1960s. Image via.

Thurs. Aug. 22nd. Started Carolyn to the airport at 12 o’clock and her plane which was due at 1 never arrived until 4:05 but we had lots of fun while we waited. She is so jolly and has so many funny jokes to tell in her droll way. We watched several large and small planes come and go and finally hers came so we put her on board and watched until it was out of sight. On the way back to the hotel we got out at the Three Mountaineers Shop where they have some pretty imported and antique bric-a-brac and then it started to rain hard, so we stayed in the hotel the rest of the evening.

Biltmore House showing Lily Pools, Asheville, NC, c. 1940s-1960s. Image via.

Fri. August 23rd. After lunch we shopped at the 5 and 10, then visited the Biltmore Estate which I had seen before, but I wanted the others to see it. Watched the dancing this evening.

Sat. Aug. 24th. Rain today so we rested most of the afternoon. Tonight watched the horse races, talked to some of the guests and watched the dancing.

Mayview Manor, Blowing Rock, NC., 1940s. Image via.

Sun. Aug. 25th. Took a long walk thru the hotel grounds this morning. This is one of the loveliest places and there is just about everything anyone could wish for. After dinner we started for Blowing Rock and it was a magnificent ride over the mts. all the way. In some places we ride right thru the clouds. We arrived at the Mayview Manor around 5 and it was so cold I wore a sweater and coat. This is one other pretty mt. resort not as pretentious as Grove Park Inn but very attractive and we are most comfortable. The rooms have windows overlooking the tops of the mts. and we can look deep down into the valleys. The flower arrangements in the lobby and dining room are simply gorgeous and they are done by Mrs. Chapman, wife of the manager who makes it her hobby. The food is simply delicious, better if possible than Grove Park Inn. There is a nice long porch for me to exercise on and the views on all sides are lovely.

Mon, August 26th. Rode over to Boonsboro a pretty ride and gave the town the once over. Met a woman on the street selling the most beautiful strawberries and we bought a box for tomorrow’s breakfast which we have served in our room. In the evening an orchestra gives a nice concert.

Flat Top Manor (aka Cone Home), c. 1940s-1950s. Photo courtesy of National Park Service/Blue Ridge Parkway. Image via.

Tues. Aug. 27. Rode around Blowing Rock. Saw the Cone home (Miss Etta is staying there) and the club house where Lazaron’s are staying. There are some very pretty houses and shops in this small town.

Wed. Aug. 28th. Left for Waynesboro, Ga. this morning over the Blue Ridge Parkway. The scenery is simply magnificent, far prettier than Skyline Drive. We stopped for picnic lunch having brought a variety of fancy rolls and buns and fruit from Mayview Manor. Arrived at the General Wayne which seemed like an old acquaintance to me and is just as nice and quiet and clean as when I was here in 38. After a good dinner we sat in the lobby and talked to some ladies who later joined us in a bridge game.

Thurs. Aug. 29th. Left Waynesboro this morning by way of the Skyline as far as Big Meadows. Took a short cut to Washington where we had a late lunch (or early dinner) at the 400 Club which was very poor. We tried the Washington Hotel Roof but they were not serving meals at this hour. We ate in company with some very questionable looking characters and I was glad to get out. Phoned Cousin Carrie who told us to come up so we paid them a little visit at Woodley Park Towers and told them about our trip. Arrive home in a powering rain about 8 P.M.

Thanks for reading “Traveling with Grace,” a series where we’re sharing (and annotating) posts from the travel diaries of Grace Amelia Hecht, native Baltimorean, b. 1897 and d. 1955. This entry is the final one in Grace’s 1940 travel diary. We’re going to take a quick break in December and then pick back up with Grace’s travels in January 2019! As mentioned in my introductory post transcription errors sometimes occur and I’ve made my best guesses where possible, denoted by [brackets]. – Rachel Kassman, marketing manager


Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Traveling with Grace: Atlanta to Asheville!

Posted on November 19th, 2019 by

This week, our #TravelTuesday series, Traveling with Grace, takes us from New Orleans into Atlanta, GA and Asheville, NC! To read more of Grace’s travels, click here.

Interior of Bankhead Tunnel Under Mobile River, Alabama, c.1930-40s. Via.

Mon. Aug. 12th. Sorry to leave this nice place but must be on our way again. The road follows the gulf a good part of the way. We had intended visiting the Bellingrath gardens out of Mobile but found it would take too long and it was not worth the price at this time of the year. In Mobile we saw some lovely old Southern mansions, a few of them turned into boarding houses and went thru the Bankhead Tunnel under the Mobile river which cuts off some of the distance (its exactly like the Holland Tunnel in N.Y. only smaller). At Bay Minette we stopped for lunch and Mrs. Parks put the tray of dishes on the front seat but after we finished eating it was accidently knocked over and all the dishes broke so I wanted to pay for the damage and all the lunch room operator would take was 10 cents. About 6 we arrived at the Jefferson Davis in Montgomery which seems to be a very pretty city. After dinner we walked for several blocks along the main street window shopping and saw the capitol flood lighted up on the hill.

Atlanta Biltmore Hotel, Georgia. Via.

Tues. Aug. 13th. Before leaving Montgomery I looked up my old friend Carrie Loeb. We had a little trouble finding her as she had moved several times but we finally tracked her down and she seemed very glad to see us. We rode around Capitol hill and the bldgs. Looked even prettier than they did last night, one of the most attractive state capitols I have seen. There is also a lovely residential section and we passed one pretty synagogue. Left Montgomery about 11 but lost an hour setting watches back to E.S.T. Stopped in West Point for milk and sandwiches. Passed thru a string of little towns en route to Atlanta the approach to which is dirty compared to the other towns we had been in. Got in the Atlanta Biltmore at 6, called Carolyn immediately and she insisted that we come to her house for dinner. She had invited about 8 of her friends to meet me and we had a lovely evening.

Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial Monument in progress 1940. Photo by Edgar Orr, via.

Wed. Aug. 14th. Carolyn and Elizabeth want out with us and showed us Atlanta and vicinity. Some college campuses a number of suburbs, Decatur where Elizabeth treated us to lunch in the hotel, several parks, country clubs, Stone Mt. with its half-finished carvings of Lee, Jeff Davis, etc. started by Borglum and Lukeman and never completed, the Cyclorama of the Battle of Atlanta, Bobby Jones house, and golf course named for him. On a lake in the park we saw the cutest boats propelled like tricycles. Tonight Perrine, Elizabeth and Carolyn had dinner with us on the terrace. (I had ordered a special dinner from the maître – d’hotel) and we chatted and watched the dancing until nearly 11. It was delightfully cool here.

Techwood Homes, Atlanta, GA, late 1930s, an early public housing project in the United States. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Thurs. Aug. 15. Carolyn invited us all for lunch at her house. Then she and her mother went out with us and showed us some more of the city including the Negro University, housing projects, better Negro residential district (all for Milton’s benefit) and then some really magnificent estates (one a miniature Fontainebleau) and many of these beautiful houses are owned by the Coca Cola magnates. Tonight we had dinner in the Coffee Shop.

Grove Park Inn, Asheville, North Carolina, 1940s. Via.

Fri. Aug. 16th. Called for Carolyn about 10 o’clock and started up to Asheville by way of Highlands, Cashiers, Waynesville and Sylva a beautiful ride thru the mts. delightfully cool. Arrived at the Grove Park Inn (after stopping for lunch at a nice little restaurant in Dillard, Ga.) about 5 o’clock. Tonight I met Ella and Milton Nathan, Mr. and Mrs. Tobreiner and Mrs. Charles Rubinstein at the hotel.

East entrance, Grove Park Inn. Via.

Sat. Aug. 17th. Enjoyed the lovely terrace and took a walk in the garden this afternoon. Met Mrs. Bertha Bauer and Mildred and Joe Siegel. Tonight we played bridge on the porch.

 Seely’s castle exterior from “Overloook,” Asheville, North Carolina. Courtesy of the D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, UNC at Asheville.

Sun. Aug. 18th. Took a beautiful ride this afternoon up Sunset Mt., passed the old castle built by the late Mr. Seely who was a big publisher here and built half of Asheville, past the Asheville water shed and reservoir and on up to the Pisgah National Forest reservation with magnificent views along the way. Tonight we heard a very pretty concert at the hotel.

Asheville Auditorium. Via.

Mon. Aug. 19th. Went to the AAA this morning to arrange reservations for the remainder of the trip and for Carolyn’s plane trip home. Returned to the hotel for lunch and this afternoon visited the Antique Show at the Asheville Auditorium. Among the items on exhibit were china, bronzes, ivories, lamps, jewelry, dolls, doll furniture, samplers, buttons, paper weights, quilts, tapestries, hat pins, furniture, candelabra, miniatures, prints, and various oddments. Tonight we played bridge again.

Thanks for reading “Traveling with Grace,” a series where we’re sharing (and annotating) posts from the travel diaries of Grace Amelia Hecht, native Baltimorean, b. 1897 and d. 1955. As mentioned in my introductory post transcription errors sometimes occur and I’ve made my best guesses where possible, denoted by [brackets]. – Rachel Kassman, marketing manager


Posted in jewish museum of maryland

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