Saturday, March 9 – I awoke relatively early, around 7:45, then laid in bed and read for a bit to gather up my strength for what would be our most notable Adventure Day until our trip to Europe and subsequent house purchase. After getting up and getting dressed, Becky and I brought Giles up to the Park Pet Retreat, and dropped him off to stay there for the day, so we could enjoy our day out without having to worry about leaving him at home. We returned to gather up some drinks and snacks in the car, then we hit the road at around 9:30 AM.
We took the Perimeter South down to I-85 South, hooking off onto GA-100 S toward Greenville before hitting Alabama. From there we followed US-27 S to arrive at our destination:
Distance: 91 miles
We pulled into Warm Springs, a podunk town in western central Georgia with a population of barely 500 and a tiny town center to match it. While a small tourist trap (which, of course, we would visit much of) had been built around a relatively friendly biker bar, the town is best known as the home of the Little White House, FDR’s retreat before and during his presidency, and the place where he died in 1945.
We weren’t entirely sure where it would be best to park, but as it seemed like almost all of the town could be seen on foot, we eventually elected to pull into a lot adjacent to the biker restaurant, then we slapped on a bit of sunblock and headed out to see what we could, starting at around 11:30. We would return to explore the biker village, but first we had to get a picture of Becky with their giant, camouflaged rabbit:
I mean, if you can see him in that picture. He’s kind of hard to make out, what on account of the camouflage and all.
Our first destination for the day was slightly outside the biker village, in an old converted house off of what amounted to the main drag in Warm Springs: the Follow the Leaders Wax Museum. You know how much of suckers we are for wax museums, and at $7 apiece this one was worth a shot. When we arrived we walked through the front door to see a 60-ish man speaking with an older, bearded gentleman in overalls who looked very much like, depending on the season, he split his time as either a Civil War re-enactor or a Santa Claus. As the other fellow left (we’d later figure out that he was Preston, the man who had built up most of the non-FDR-related attractions in Warm Springs) our personal tour with the bearded overall gentleman began.
And man could he talk. He could tell us the entire history of not only the historical persons captured in wax, but also the figures themselves. Preston, it seems, was a “waste not want not” sort of fellow, who’d cleverly re-purpose just about anything he came across, including this old store mannequin into an old-timey aviatrix:
From there he took us around a corner to the left, where George Washington Carver was standing, offering us peanuts, of course:
Across the way from him we could see Daniel Boone gathering wood:
…possibly so he can make a lovely, rustic desk for Henry Clay:
Up around the corner from them, Rudolph Valentino stood at the head of the stairs:
Jackie Kennedy Onassis seemed to like what she saw:
…but Teddy Roosevelt and Will Rogers remained unimpressed:
It’s hard to say whether they would have gotten along had they been contemporaries (they nearly were, but Rogers’ fame came mostly in TR’s twilight years or after his death). Probably not, though, since TR and Mark Twain apparently hated one another. I suppose men of big personalities just needed space from one another back then. Good thing their figures don’t seem to mind.
The same can be said, of course, for this bunch, too:
Considering that the museum had an economy of space, the proprietors had to make do with stuffing as many post-WWII Presidents in the same Oval Office as possible. Fortunately, Kennedy didn’t seem to mind:
Carter seemed somewhat amused at the notion:
Though LBJ just sort of stood off to one side, brooding:
Finally, despite actually being seated at the desk, Nixon was, predictably, a big grump about having to share the stage:
Next we took a trip back in time to the American Revolution:
…at the crucial moment when Thomas Jefferson invented the flux capacitor:
Truly he was a god among men.
Unfortunately his time travel couldn’t save Douglas MacArthur’s wrists:
As we continued along, we next hit a section of Civil Rights leaders, featuring Martin Luther King:
I should point out here that you might think that since we were in rural Georgia and being given a tour by an older gentleman that we’d get some sideways guff about “them nee-groes” or something to that regard. And you couldn’t be more wrong. Our tour guide seemed genuinely proud of the accomplishments of the Civil Rights leaders and their supporters, including Eleanor Roosevelt:
Poor Eleanor. She looks like her model was cast in a microexpression seated at a baseball game in the exact moment in which she’s trying to determine if a pop foul ball is headed right toward her:
After a jaunt into a back room featuring numerous movie posters from the 30s through 80s that Preston hadn’t quite figured out what to do with yet, we returned to the museum to see their prize possession:
Yes, Albert Einstein in prison. I know it seems weird, but, as our tour guide explained, the figure was actually quite old and, behind his right ear there was a faint scrawling where the unsteady, elderly hand of one Albert Einstein Himself autographed the piece. It is, not surprisingly, the only wax figure actually autographed by Einstein known to exist and is, as such, quite valuable. Our guide suggested how much it may be worth – $1 million – but I suspect that was an inflated figure. Certainly, though, it was still worth a whole lot of money. And, as such, is behind bars. Poor Dr. Einstein.
Our guide tarried a bit as he described the next figure, Dolly Parton:
He described her as a truly brave and strong woman, making it on her own in a man’s world of music entertainment. He, uh, really liked Dolly Parton, we gathered:
Maybe he was just intimidated by her nails, though:
As we wound out the museum, we came upon the iconic scene of Lincoln’s assassination:
Our guide told the story of how they weren’t even supposed to get Lincoln’s head, but they did by mistake, and the seller refused to take it back. So, lacking a John Wilkes Booth, they cobbled together one using a different head and a spare set of hands. You might not be able to make it out, there, but their Booth appears to be shooting Lincoln with a revolver. Whoops. Mary Todd was not amused:
Booth wasn’t alone in having hand issues, though. Poor Neil Armstrong got Space Hands:
But, at least Billy Graham was fully in-tact, preserved in his own capsule for eternity:
Our guide continued to chat with us as we headed out, and I took the opportunity to ask about an old gas pump they had at the door so I could snap a photo of him:
The whole tour wound up taking much longer than we’d anticipated, but I’d say it was worth it if only to hear him talk for a solid hour and a half.
We bade farewell to our kind host, then we headed on back to the biker village – “Little Sturgis” as Preston has dubbed it – to continue our Warm Springs experience. It’s a friendly kind of place, I hear:
Certainly these dancing concessions seemed happy to see us:
…though this happy potato chip clown looks like he’d seen better days:
No matter where we looked, though, we couldn’t quite seem to get away from Betty Boop:
We’d see more of her later, but we had to move on, as all that standing around gawking was starting to wear on FDR’s nerves:
I couldn’t help but admire this fellow, though, who, despite having only a hatchet, was still offering tickets to the gun show:
Not content that flexing was manly enough, my Injun friend there went on to out-drag a paleface in a bike race:
Of course, he seemed to have special motivation for getting to the finish line first:
Behind the comely squaw there you could see Preston’s Art in Motion Museum, dedicated to all thinks related to motorcycles and whatever-the-heck else he managed to collect that caught his fancy. It was around there somewhere but we couldn’t seem to find its entrance among the jumble of buildings. Predictably, this panda was no help:
We finally managed to come upon the entrance along another road, tucked behind a cluttered ad hoc gift shop. A young lady was there to take our entrance fee, which was good, as it seemed that she was running all of the several of Preston’s museum buildings alone at that particular moment. She asked us if we wanted to see all of them or just that particular collection. As neither of us are really that into vintage motorcycles, we just paid to see what we came for, his collection of Americana:
Becky immediately gravitated to the YouTubeaphone, there, which operated by cranking an oversized flip-book of photos:
I preferred this beauty, though:
Heh heh. “Reginaphone.”
Some of the Americana collection looked like stuff you might find in a vintage toy shop:
While other things had a bit more, well, “local flavor,” let’s say:
They had a rather impressive collection of vintage buttons off to one side:
Some of which, if original, were quite old and quite valuable, I’d guess:
If TR wasn’t your thing and you wanted a more Populist candidate, they had William Jennings Bryan, too:
As we wandered around the corner, I saw what I was hoping to find when we visited Plains; a still-full six pack of Billy Beer:
Homer Simpson would be proud. Plus, it was necessary to wash away the memories of Creepy Squatting Smoking Michelin Man:
…and this horror, straight out of a Nine Inch Nails video:
Hey pig. Yeah, you.
As we turned the corner toward the back we came upon a velocipede, necessary part of any Americana museum:
And… what’s that? Is that a straaaaight jacket?
Mr. Peanut told us he’d had enough of that joke and he wished I’d just play it cool:
As we hit the back of the museum, the whole place started to fall apart into an array of whatever couldn’t fit elsewhere. Like some drill bits next to some old comics:
…or some mannequin legs next to a picture of John Wayne:
There was one thing back there that made it all worth it, though:
That’s right, hipsters, we found the original Big Game Hunter! Complete with pistol grip!
Sadly, it didn’t seem to be functional anymore. And so that concluded our trip to the museum. Or, so we thought, for on the way out:
Aaah! A 50s Dalek! “EXTERMINATE. EXTERMINATE CO-ED DANCES! EXTERMINATE KNEE-LENGTH SKIRTS!”
As we rounded the corner out of the museum we saw more Betty Boop:
Apparently there was a tiny Betty Boop-themed gift shop there:
The woman who was running the museum had walked out with us, and so we asked her if she could open it up so we could look around. We thought that would be a simple matter, but it turned out she didn’t have a key to it. So we sheepishly waited around as she tracked down Preston for a key. As we killed time, Becky saw how she measured up against Pretty Peach:
Unfortunately, after all that effort to find the key, the inside of the locked door was less of a gift shop and more of a storage area for whatever Preston hadn’t put on sale yet. Oh, and the door frame was rather low:
Stupid Betty Boop wooing us in with her siren charm and gigantic head.
We spent a few moments after that wandering around the biker village to see if there was anything else interesting before we departed:
All around were various things Preston had found and placed there. Lions:
…young ladies with old timey cameras and trophies:
…and, of course, Fonzie burning his bike:
I, uh, don’t remember that episode.
The call of the open road made Becky want to take a trip herself:
…and so she decided to stand next to some bikes to see how she looked:
I assured her she looked ready to ride, as I stood safely far away and used the zoom:
It was a bit of a letdown after that to load up into our Prius, but we’d seen all we could in Little Sturgis and it was time to move along. It was a short drive from there to our next destination, the proper highlight of the trip: the Roosevelt Little White House and Museum.
The whole place was actually quite built up. Not terribly surprising, I guess, since it was the beloved home and death-place of one of our greatest Presidents. We first entered it into a museum, detailing FDR’s life:
Roosevelt started going to Warm Springs after he was stricken with polio as a means of rehabilitation. He was going there well before he ran for President, though, and so they had plenty of time to collect memorabilia, such as this custom-made swimsuit:
…and a portion of his rather enormous stamp collection:
They also had one of his custom-designed cars there, complete with vanity plate:
A separate display showed how the pedals were rigged with hand-controls so he could drive it without the use of his legs:
I’ll note that even then it had to be an automatic transmission, as I doubt he could have operated the clutch with his hands while still driving. Not that he did any serious racing.
By far the most impressive part of the museum – to me, at least – was the vast array of hand-made memorabilia honoring FDR that he had received in his lifetime:
There was that clock showing him as the “captain” driving the United States through rough waters, and there was this prayer made just for him:
The majority of it, though, in American folk art tradition, was woodworking:
His face on a log, there. His name in a chain link, here:
And, notably, an impressive collection of hand-carved walking sticks:
…some of which were quite elaborately ornamented:
As we continued we saw a display of one of his trademark cloaks:
…along side a couple of gifts from his wife’s uncle, that other Roosevelt fellow:
Near that there was this book:
FDR’s mother was quite a character, and lived with him in the White House for a time until her death just four years prior to his own. She seemed to have an opinion on everything (the Roosevelts were nothing if not good at producing strong-willed women) and so it’s only natural she wrote a book about him.
Near there I found this rather odd-looking quilt:
Though it’s significantly less odd if you’ll recall that “NRA” in this context means National Recovery Administration, FDR’s primary outlet for the New Deal between 1933 and 1935:
It was still rather odd for me to see NRA cross-stitching:
…and an NRA latch-hook rug:
I suppose words change over time, though.
The heart of the entire collection inside that portion of the museum was right here:
A set of the braces FDR used to walk for public appearances. It’s somewhat remarkable to me that these still exist and were not destroyed upon his death to preserve his legacy. I’m glad they’re still around, as they really help bring to life a historical figure who died before my father was even born.
We headed outside from there to the park grounds:
The map had a reminder in the lower-left corner to please not smoke:
This was perfectly, artistically complimented by a troll-faced FDR with a cigarette in his mouth in the opposite corner:
Seriously, someone had fun with that.
As we walked up to the Little White House proper, we meandered along a path that, to our joy, featured representative stones for each state mineral from all 50 states:
Many, like Georgia’s, were carved into the shape of the state itself:
This was less-impressive in the case of Wyoming:
Meanwhile, Missouri went for more of an abstract look with… a triangle?
Sure, why not.
Becky was happy to greet good ol’ Massachusetts:
Though poor Colorado felt as if it was somewhat lacking compared to Rhode Island:
Or maybe that’s a slam on Rhode Island? Because it’s pretty much true.
In terms of my favorite, though, I’d have to go with either Montana:
Texas had a pretty one, too:
…especially as compared to New York’s:
New York you did not even try.
We’d reached the end of the path, and successfully made our way to the Little White House:
As the name suggests, the house wasn’t very big, but it did provide enough space for FDR’s desk:
…and where he kept ice water for Secret Service agents, suspiciously directly below the insecticide:
There was actually more to the place than that. He had his own, private bedroom:
…though Eleanor’s room had two beds in it:
He also had his bathroom, complete with Plexiglas-encased toilet paper:
In addition to collecting stamps, FDR apparently also enjoyed collecting naval memorabilia and model ships, on display in his dining room:
On one side of that there was a closet with a straw-boater hat and a chain that he’d use to take Fala for a wal… erm, to take Fala out:
There was a lovely deck out back, but it led to a rather precipitous drop off the side of a hill:
I imagine he didn’t get out back there very often.
After a stop to peak in his servants’ quarters, we headed on back to the museum, where one of his final portraits was waiting for us, still unfinished due to his untimely death:
We wandered into the gift shop to buy some snacks as Eleanor’s caricature smiled at us:
Man, she just couldn’t win at looking good that day, could she?
By that point it was 3:45 and we were getting about ready to head home. We drove through the Roosevelt Warm Springs Center for Rehabilitation to look for their “Polio Hall of Fame,” but the entire place was the size of a college campus and the hall of fame wasn’t listed on the map we found, so we quickly gave up and hit the road back home instead. It was a lovely day in Warm Springs.
Making our way back to I-85 North and then up to Atlanta from there wasn’t too bad, but then I made a critical error. I should have stayed on I-85 all the way to North Druid Hills Road, but I figured the Connector would be a parking lot and so I opted for the Perimeter instead. Which was dumb. Because the Perimeter was a bigger parking lot. And it didn’t lead as directly to home. We watched as prime time to go eat dinner passed by as we sat helplessly in traffic. We had big plans to go to Raging Burrito before picking up Giles, but by the time we got home it was so late that we were lucky to have gotten Giles before the Park Pet Retreat closed for the night at 7. Bah.
After getting our happy and smelly dog back home safely, I ordered us some Mint2 Thai for dinner. We ate while watching some of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs on TV, followed by a pair of Stuff You Should Know TV show episodes off of the DVR. We were getting pretty tired at that point, and so we just put on a show called Deadliest Animals of India (pro tip: don’t live in rural India), then we retired to bed for the night.
Whew! What a busy adventure day! It was a great time, and we were glad to have gotten it in to have a bit of fun before getting bogged down with looking for a new house.