Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Pine Mountain and Warm Springs

So we spent the first days out of Florida in a little town called Pine Mountain, best known for Calloway Gardens and the bright yellow home of my brother Micah.

Though it took us far too long to finally reach Pine Mountain (see LoC post below), once there we really enjoyed the small-town downtowns riddled with antique shops (sorry, shoppes) and fabulous southern food we found at nearly every turn.

Micah and his wife Patty took us to nearby Warm Springs, which was a second home to Franklin Roosevelt and the site of his "little White House." You might think this uninteresting, but I thought I knew a lot (well, all one needed to know) about FDR and yet I learned a lot there, and really renewed my appreciation for this son of wealth and privilege who became an advocate for the poor and distressed. And really, this place reminds you that fending for the worst-off of Americans is what the President's job should be. How low we've sunk since FDR, I have to say.

Roosevelt used his experiences in Warm Springs (he visited to enjoy the natural 88-degree waters and seek relief from his polio) to identify with the needs of the undereducated and disadvantaged. He led the country through two of its most challenging crises: the Great Depression and World War II, and emerged victorious in both all while maintaining such a love of the people that he was re-elected three times. Now that's a leader.

The "Little White House" museum tends to glorify FDR's accomplishments, but it's not to be confused with a real Presidential Library; it focuses almost solely on his life and death in Warm Springs rather than an overall biography. His personal secretary (who often accompanied him here) gets at least as much attention as Eleanor, for example, and the museum takes some time to at least mention Roosevelt's contemporary critics and their bemoaning his "big daddy government" approach.

On that point, I have a post up on my other blog (which routinely deals with more political matters) covering FDR and his critics and a strange coincidence that we came upon right after our visit, but this is not the place for such things. You can hop over there if you're interested.

Before we left Pine Mountain, we dropped by to see our new nephew Mason. Mason has been a part of the family since his birth eight years ago, but he recently officially became a Martin and we are very pleased to welcome him into the clan. He's hardly the first of us to arrive via adoption -- myself and my sister Mel and brother Micah are all adopted -- but he's just as much Martin as the rest of us, and he's bright and full of ambition and energy so we think he'll go far.

Last but not least, we took Micah and Patty's advice and had lunch at the Bulloch House restaurant, an "old-style" Southern place made out of a Victorian-era home that just kept adding on. A gallery of pictures of FDR's Warm Springs home and from this portion of our trip are here.