MUSCODA - The recent news about former President Jimmy Carter’s failing health resulted in a memory entry into my brain. In 1977 the Smith family spent a short time in Carter’s hometown of Plains, Georgia.
Vi deserves the credit for seeing the president’s hometown. We had attended an outdoor writers’ convention in Macon, Georgia for me and by adding just a couple hundred miles to our return trip to Muscoda we were able to see history in the making – a town that looked a lot like ours was getting national attention.
As we arrived in Plains we noticed a long line of strange little buildings in the village park. It took just a bit of time to realize the structures were portable toilets, places for visitors like us.
However, during the midweek day we were there the number of visitors was small and the place seemed amazingly like home. There were a few folks selling souvenirs but the community had not taken on a honkytonk look.
We were able to see the Carter home, from a distance and through some trees, while we drove on a “no stopping” street. We went past Billy Carter’s AMOCO service station and the only activity there was someone selling watermelons off the back of a truck. There also was a little tour train with a dinging bell making it’s rounds, but it only had four people riding in it.
We still have a reminder of Plains in our house – a tiny sample of dirt. Some type of street work was underway when we were there. Piles of red Georgia soil were stacked along streets. That red dirt intrigued Vi and we filled a brandy-snifter type of glass with a sample to take home.For some time after that, red Georgia soil was displayed at a place of honor in our home and, although she never said for certain, Vi could at least hint we had some earth that a President of the United States had walked on. After all, we had rescued the dirt from a pile near the train depot that had served as Carter’s campaign headquarters.