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Bill W

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About Bill W

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  1. Yes, I've had to take all of that into account as I continued the story, as you shall see.
  2. Thanks, flesco. I'm glad you enjoyed their tour of Atlanta. I've also taken the ghost story tour and enjoyed it very much and it gave me a new perspective of the city. I knew there was a lot of history in Atlanta, but I didn't realize the extent of ghosts in that history. Thanks for the feedback.
  3. Believe it or not, Stix, too many voters actually vote against their own self interests and suffer because of it. As the old Peter, Paul, and Mary song (Where Have All the Flowers Gone) asks - when will they ever learn? And I pray you and all the others on GA stay safe as well. I've lost a couple of relatives to COVID-19 and another recovered, but it doesn't mean there won't be further problems from having had it, so every MUST stay safe.
  4. Yes, I agree. That was an oversight on my part.
  5. Ouch, that's a rough lesson for getting playful. The Secret Service doesn't have a sense of humor when it comes to breaking the rules.
  6. Yes, it was a memorable trip for both of them and now it's time to head home again.
  7. Thanks, Danilo. Shannon and Nick did a nice job planning for both Josh and Jake's tastes, and now we are ready to move on to other things.
  8. After waking up on Thursday morning, Nick and Shannon explained how we’d be starting off our day. “We’re going to take you to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum this morning. We thought you’d like to see that.” “Sure, it sounds good,” Jake agreed. “He was a peanut farmer who was elected Governor of Georgia and then President, so we should check it out while we’re here.” “His name was James Earl Carter Jr., but he preferred to be called Jimmy,” I added as Nick drove us there. “He was elected President in 1976 when he defeated the incumbent President, Gerald Ford. Carter was only a one-term President, however, and lost the 1980 election to Ronald Reagan. Most people attribute his loss to the fact that his Presidency was beset by numerous problems, including high inflation and slow economic growth, as well as a severe energy crisis and a hostage situation.” “I remember that time,” Jake said. “Who could forget the long lines at the gas stations just to fill up your car and sometimes discovering the station was sold out of gasoline before you reached the front of the line.” “It wasn’t all bad and there were also some highlights during his Presidency as well, such as when he arranged for the Camp David Accords. This was a meeting between the leaders of Egypt and Israel that led to their signing a peace treaty. Such a thing was unheard of between an Arab nation and the Jewish State at the time because the Arabs hated the Jews and the only treaties they signed were usually after a war.” “Didn’t he win a Nobel Peace Prize for that peace treaty?” asked Shannon. “He won the Nobel Peace Price in 2002, but it was for a culmination of efforts. They included finding peaceful solutions to international conflicts and the advancement of human rights, as well as some of his other efforts.” “But not everything worked out that well for him,” mentioned Jake. “No, he suffered through some international conflicts as well, such as the Soviet Union’s attack on Afghanistan and the Iranian Revolution. In fact, the Iranian Hostage Crisis was probably one of the primary situations that caused his defeat in 1980.” “Why? What was that about?” asked Nick. “Didn’t you take history classes in school?” I joked. “I did, but I don’t really get stuff like that from just reading about it in a textbook. It makes more sense when I go to places like this with you and hear you guys talking about it.” “Ok, then let me explain. Due to the terrible economic situation in Iran at the time, as well as an Islamic revival, a group of Iranians revolted against the Shah and forced him to leave the country in 1978. When the US admitted the Shah to receive medical treatments, the Iranians turned their anger toward the US. In November of 1979, a group of Iranian students stormed the US Embassy in Tehran and took more than 60 Americans hostage, and this standoff lasted for 444 days.” “Couldn’t the US have just sent troops in to rescue them?” Shannon asked. “President Carter sent in a rescue mission, but it failed, which made him even less popular with the American people.” “No wonder he was only President for one term,” Nick stated. “Yes, and the Ayatollah, who was now running the country, didn’t release the hostages until the day after Reagan’s inauguration.” When we arrived at the location, we saw several lighted displays containing videos, photos, documents, and the wonderful gifts President Carter received from foreign leaders. Eventually, we made our way to a life-size replica of the Oval Office. “Why do they have a copy of the Oval Office here?” Nick wondered. “It’s because each President gets to furnish and decorate the Oval Office the way he chooses. I imagine the other Presidential libraries and Museums have something similar.” “So, they don’t all use the same rug, chairs, and other stuff?” Shannon followed. “No, it’s up to their individual tastes.” The replica Oval Office was decorated as it was when Carter was President. There was his large Presidential desk, a beige oval rug with blue designs scattered about, two beige sofas with brown and blue stripes, and two gold high-back chairs, along with an assortment of tables. We also observed the paintings on the walls, including the one of General George Washington over the fireplace, as well as the knick-knacks in the nooks and the orange drapery. “I don’t like the way he furnished the Oval Office,” Nick commented. “Those sofas are hideous.” “It was back in the 1970s and people’s tastes were different then.” “Nick and I hadn’t come here before,” Shannon added, “and I’m glad we waited until you were with us so you could tell us about all these things.” “Yeah, you made it make a lot more sense,” Nick agreed. Now that we’d finished our tour, we went out to grab a quick lunch before we headed to our next location – the Atlanta History Museum. “Did you plan this entire trip around my love of history?” I asked. “No, we planned some things for my dad too,” Shannon answered. “We knew he’d like the College Football Hall of Fame, the World of Coca-Cola, and Centennial Park, and we have other things planned that he’ll like as well.” “Ok, I was just wondering after yesterday and today.” “We tried to plan things each of you would like,” Nick offered. “And we greatly appreciate that.” The Atlanta History Museum was divided into several areas, and we started out at the Cyclorama: The Big Picture. This is a 12-minute film projected onto the hand-painted and fully restored painting, The Battle of Atlanta. When the painting was first viewed in 1880, it was similar to a virtual reality experience from today. The painting is 49 feet (15m) tall, longer than a football field, and weighs 10,000 pounds (4,536 kg). “Was there really a Battle of Atlanta?” Nick asked. “Yes. Union General William Tecumseh Sherman led the attack and basically left Atlanta in ashes before he burned his way across Georgia during a 37-week campaign in 1864,” I explained. “Then why would they want to show this in Atlanta right after the Civil War?” Shannon followed. “Unfortunately, the painting was altered from time to time to reflect the different points of view. When it was first painted, it was to honor the Union victory, but when it was moved to Atlanta changes were made to make it appear to be a Confederate victory. Today it’s been restored to its original perspective showing a Union victory again. The museum now uses it to show how perception and memory can be altered to match the desires of groups or individuals and uses the painting to show how this can be done.” After we left there, we went to view the other areas next, some of which repeated various details we had learned at some of our other stops. The other areas were: Locomotion: Railroads and the Making of Atlanta, Turning Point: The American Civil War, and Gatheround: Stories of Atlanta. In addition to those areas were Atlanta ’96: Shaping an Olympic and Paralympic City, Shaping Traditions: Folk Arts in a Changing South, and Native Lands: Indians and Georgia. There were also areas on Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow, and Any Great Change: The Centennial of the 19th Amendment (A woman’s right to vote). The final areas dealt with Fair Play: The Bobby Jones Story (he was a golf legend), Mandarin Shutze: A Chinese Export Life, and Seeking Eden (the 19th and early 20th century focus on landscaping and gardening). “Man, there was certainly a lot to see in an afternoon,” Jake stated. “Yes, that was a lot, but I found it very interesting,” I added. “I wish you were going to be here longer so we could have taken our time, but we’ve got other things planned for the rest of the week,” Nick said apologetically. “No, it’s fine,” I replied, “and we got a good impression of everything they had there.” “We’re glad you’re not disappointed or upset,” Shannon offered. “No, we’re not upset in the least,” Jake responded. “And we appreciate everything you’ve done for us since we’ve been here.” On the way home, Nick pulled over in front of the Margaret Mitchell House and Shannon told us a little about it. “She lived in apartment 1 with her husband, a small apartment on the first floor that she often referred to as the dump.” “But it looks like a lovely building,” Jake countered. “Maybe it does now, but she lived there from 1925 to 1932 and some of the owners didn’t keep it well maintained.” “Do you know if she wrote her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Gone With the Wind there?” I asked. “From what I understand, she wrote most of it there,” Shannon replied. “She must have earned a ton on money from the book and the rights for the movie,” Jake added. “She did, but did you know that the black actors weren’t allowed to attend when it premiered in Atlanta in 1939?” “Yes, because the south was still staunchly segregated,” I concurred. “And there weren’t any blacks at all in the audience. It was a terrible injustice.” After we left there, we made a quick stop to eat before we headed back to their house. Once there, Nick made an announcement. “We won’t be starting out as early tomorrow because we have things planned for later in the day. We’ll stay here until after lunch, so you can sleep in if you want, and we probably won’t be getting home until around midnight.” “Damn, what have you got planned?” Jake asked. “We’ll start out by taking you by where we work first, and then we’re going to take a tour of CNN (Cable News Network) next. Later, after we eat dinner, we’re taking you to Chastain Park to see a Lionel Richie concert.” “Really? He was one of my favorite vocalists,” Jake gasped. “I had some groups I liked too, but I really liked his songs.” “I had a feeling that was the case, since Mom liked him too. I had to listen to her playing the CDs all the time after you moved out,” Shannon responded. “I bet one of them must have been my Can’t Slow Down album. I wondered what happened to that.” “And I remember the song Dancing On The Ceiling,” Shannon added. “Yes, that was another one of my CDs that disappeared.” “Well, maybe he’ll sing some of those songs for you tomorrow night.” “I certainly hope so.” We spent a nice relaxing evening with the boys, and Nick brought out some beer that we drank as we discussed our day and looked forward to the next. After a very refreshing night’s sleep, we eventually got dressed and prepared for the day ahead. After finishing lunch, Nick drove us to see where he and Shannon worked, and then he took us to the Inside CNN Studio Tour. It was a guided tour that started out in a simulated control room where our guide explained how the director informed the technicians what to show on our television screens. We also got to see a green-screen and our guide explained how the weatherman would look at a monitor to the side, rather than at the green-screen, so he’d know where to point. He also explained how the teleprompter worked, how the news was gathered, and how it all came together in a live show. “I didn’t know some of those things,” I stated as we were leaving. “I didn’t know most of them,” Shannon added, “but I’m sure Nick did, since he’s into all of that technical stuff.” “Yes, I did, but it was still neat to see how they used it here,” he agreed. Once we left there, they took us out to enjoy a nice leisurely meal before the concert began. Once we got to the park, we tried to find a good spot to watch the show from since it wasn’t assigned seating. Once we were situated, we chatted as we waited for the show to begin. I thought Jake was going to faint when Lionel Richie walked out on the stage of the amphitheatre because this was the first time he’d seen Lionel Richie in person. He maintained his composure, though, and Lionel chatted briefly with the audience before belting out his first song. Over the course of the evening he sang some of his most memorable songs, including All Night Long, Truly, Dancing on the Ceiling, Hello, Stuck on You, and Say You, Say Me. Jake and I were getting into the music, and Jake even tried to sing along a couple of times, even though he didn’t have the best singing voice, and I think even Shannon and Nick enjoyed being here. “That was incredible,” Jake said when we got back to the car. “I can’t believe I finally got to see him live.” “It was a great show and he had the entire place getting into it,” I agreed. “Yes, and even I enjoyed it,” Shannon conceded, “even though I had to listen to all of his songs at home while I was growing up.” “Hey, I enjoyed it too!” Nick added. “I’ve seen him as a judge on American Idol, so it was kinda neat to hear what he could do.” “Thanks for bringing me to this,” Jake enthused. “This is one part of the trip that I’ll never forget, along with getting to spend time with both of you.” “We’re both glad you enjoyed it,” Shannon responded. It was late by the time we arrived home, so we went through our nightly ritual quickly before turning in. After waking up on Saturday morning and having breakfast together, Shannon told us what we were going to do. “We’re going to pack a lunch and take it with us in the cooler, because today we’re taking you to Stone Mountain Park. It will probably be crowded there, but that’s ok since most of the things are geared towards the kids and we’ll be skipping those areas.” “We’re also going to take four lawn chairs,” Nick added, “because we’re going to stick around until after dark so you can see the laser show. It’s quite spectacular.” “Sounds good to me,” Jake responded. “Me too,” I agreed. It took about thirty minutes for us to get there, and then Nick tried to find a spot in the shade to park in order to protect the food and drinks we had in the cooler. After we locked the car, we went to purchase our tickets. The main attraction is a humungous stone boulder, or dome, that juts out of the ground and rises to a height of 825 feet (251 m) above the surrounding area. The circumference of Stone Mountain is more than 5 miles (8 km) at its base, and one of its most iconic attractions is the largest bas-relief carving in the world. It depicts three Confederate figures: Jefferson Davis (President of the Confederacy) and two Confederate generals, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. It has also drawn widespread controversy. We learned about the geology and history of the area first, and then we took a train ride around the entire park to give us a feel for the place. After that we took the Skyride, or a cable car, to the top of Stone Mountain so we could enjoy the amazing view, which included the Atlanta skyline in the distance. We spent quite a bit of time on top of that rock, and then Nick and Shannon decided to walk down the trail on the west side. Jake and I didn’t think we could handle that, so we took the Skyride back to the bottom and waited for the boys to join us. “There were actually people walking up that trail to the top as we were coming down!” Nick informed us when we met up again. “It was tough enough walking down from there,” Shannon added, “so I can’t imagine trying to walk up it.” After that, we walked out to the car and took out the cooler so we could have lunch. It was one of those coolers with wheels, so we followed Nick and carried the lawn chairs as he pulled the cooler to a large grassy area where we sat down to eat. “This is where they’ll have the laser show later,” he explained as we were chowing down. “I can’t wait to see it,” I replied. After we finished eating, Nick took the cooler back to the car while we followed him with the lawn chairs, and then we went to look around Historic Square. That’s a collection of historic buildings from all over Georgia that had been moved here to showcase the vast differences in architecture and how people lived. There were three plantation manor-houses from 1794, 1845, and 1850, as well as two slave cabins, a barn, and other outbuildings. It was a real eye opener. “Whoa, some people had it pretty nice while others were a lot worse off,” Nick stated. “And I think you know who were the ones that struggled,” I countered. Following our tour of those structures, we went on the Rockin’ Land and Lake Tour. It was an interactive guided tour that gave us another perspective of the park, but this time from the water. Once the boat ride ended, Nick talked us into playing miniature golf on a course that was based on The Great Locomotive Chase. This was an actual event during the Civil War when volunteers from the Union Army commandeered a train, named the General, and were pursued by Confederate forces until they were eventually captured. Playing miniature golf was fun and we all enjoyed it, and when we finished, we went to have dinner in one of the establishments in the park. It was nothing special, but it was filling, and after we finished, we walked out to the car to retrieve the lawn chairs again. We carried them back to the same grassy expanse where we’d eaten lunch earlier and located a good spot to watch the show. We had to wait quite a while before it started, so we talked about other things in the meantime. “When we get back to the house, we’re going to have to pack up and get ready to return home,” I announced. “Yes, we know, and we’ll be sorry to see you go,” Shannon conceded. “We’re going to take you out for breakfast first, before we drive you to the airport.” “We really appreciate that you both took time off from work and planned all of these trips for us,” Jake stated. “We both had a truly enjoyable time with you.” “Yes, we did,” I concurred. “We’ll be joining you for Thanksgiving this year, but Nick’s parents will be coming here for Christmas.” “That’s fine, and we look forward to seeing you again at that time,” Jake replied. When the laser show started, Jake and I agreed that it was truly amazing. It used a combination of digital projections, lasers, music, other special effects, and pyrotechnics displayed on the same face of Stone Mountain as the carving. It was a delightful and entertaining show. When the laser show ended, we headed out to the car and then Nick had to fight with the other visitors to exit the park so we could make our way home. As soon as we got back to the house, Jake and I got our things together and packed up our suitcases first, and then we said goodnight to Nick and Shannon before we showered and hopped into bed. When we woke up in the morning, Jake and I got dressed, brushed our teeth quickly, and packed the last few items into our suitcases before taking them out and loading them into the car. Nick drove us over to a restaurant where we shared our last meal together. We hugged each other and said our goodbyes before we left the parking lot. “We’ll do this now, because the most we’ll be able to do is pull up in front of your terminal and drop you off,” Nick stated. “Yes, it’s such a busy place that we won’t be able to go inside with you,” Shannon added. “That’s fine and we understand,” Jake replied. When we got to the airport, we merely said goodbye again and grabbed our luggage before waving at them as they drove off. As soon as we were inside, we checked our luggage and made our way through the security check point, and then we waited in the boarding area. Once we were aboard the plane and it had taken off, it proved to be another smooth flight. We landed in Philadelphia close to the designated time, and then we headed out to the parking lot to retrieve our car. I drove the entire way home so Jake could rest up and take it easy, since he had to work the following day. He offered to take over after we stopped to grab a bite to eat about halfway home, but I turned him down, and the drive didn’t turn out to be too taxing. When we arrived at the house, we received a warm welcome home as the boys came out to greet us and even took our luggage inside. We chatted with the others as we ate dinner with them, and then we showered quickly before turning in. We were both exhausted and wanted to get plenty of rest before the new day began.
  9. Thanks, flesco, I'm glad you are enjoying this little virtual tour of Atlanta. Yes, Shannon and Nick are both doing well and Josh and Jake are enjoying the time they're spending with them. The trip will continue, so I hope they hit some of the spots you enjoyed while in Atlanta. Thanks for the feedback.
  10. I'm glad you enjoyed this chapter. Even though I haven't iived in GA as long as you have, since I've only been here for 15 years, I have visited many of the places I wrote about, but we aren't through with GA yet. We still have Part 2 coming. Thanks for the feedback, Wesley.
  11. Unfortunately, there are too many people that don't have a good grasp of history or don't think about history when considering current events. It's a shame, because it would allow them to see where we've come from when considering where we're going next. Thanks for the feedback.
  12. Shannon is an accountant and Nick works in IT. A lot of things were in Coca Cola, including cocaine in the original formula. Of course, cocaine was an ingredient of a lot of medications at the time. Yes, it's deplorable to think how people could treat others that way, but some would still do it if they could. Thanks, Danilo.
  13. Our trip to Atlanta went very smoothly and Shannon and Nick were waiting for us when we arrived at the airport. “Are you hungry?” Shannon asked after he and Nick gave his dad and me a hug. “We probably could use a little something,” Jake answered, “but we should probably freshen up first. We had a long drive in the car to get to the airport and then the flight here, so we’re probably starting to get a little ripe.” “And after I wash up, I’ll help you fix something,” I added. “There’s no need for that, because we’re going to take you out to eat,” Nick announced. “Whatever you want, but it would be a lot cheaper to eat at your place.” “Don’t worry about the cost, because we owe you big time for all you did for Shannon when he was laid up after the accident.” “You don’t owe me a thing for that. I did it because I wanted to help and because I love both of you.” “And I stayed for as long as I could,” Jake added, “but I couldn’t take any more time off from work.” “We still owe you guys, because you didn’t get to see much of the area while you were here. You didn’t want to do that without us, and Shannon wasn’t able to go anywhere, so we want to make up for that now.” “You don’t have to, but if you insist, then we’ll be happy to go with you.” After we washed up and changed, they took us to a lovely restaurant. Once we ordered, Jake and I asked them a few questions. “So, what’s been going on in your life lately?” Jake asked his son. “How’s your job going?” “I told you that my company has been paying for me to attend night classes at Emory University as I work on my masters degree,” Shannon began. “I’ll complete my last class in December.” “That’s great! What do plan on doing after that?” “I’m hoping that I’ll get a promotion at work, but I’ve also got a backup plan.” “What does that mean?” “I’m taking the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) Exam in August, so if I don’t get the promotion then I may just head out on my own.” “Can you take the exam before you finish your last class? And wouldn’t it be risky for you to leave the company if you don’t have something definite lined up?” “Yes, I can take the exam before I complete my degree, and of course making any move like that comes with risks. It also comes with incredible potential. Being my own boss would mean my income could be limitless, depending on how satisfied my clients are with my work and how fast word spreads about my business.” “But you won’t have any income at first, until you build your client base.” “I know. So, if it looks as if I’ll be leaving the company then I’ll start recruiting clients and working for them on the weekends. I’ll take care of their accounts in my free time and I won’t quit the company until I have a decent client base. When I think I’m doing well enough, or if I find it impossible to continue both jobs at the same time, then I’ll quit my other job.” “I guess that sounds all right. I just hope it works out the way you want.” “So do I.” “What about you, Nick?” I asked my honorary son. “How is your job going?” I said ‘honorary son’ because I never adopted Nick. He lived with us for a while and I helped to raise him, but I also helped him to reconcile with his parents. “It’s going great! I was waiting to tell you this until you got here, because I wanted to see your reaction when I give you the good news. Two weeks ago, I was promoted from IT technician to System Administrator.” “That’s fantastic! I take it that’s the next rung on your way up the corporate ladder. Does this mean you’ll be supervising other employees now?” “Yes, I have eight IT technicians and six cyber-security specialists in my chain of command.” “And I’m so proud of him,” Shannon added. “He’s worked hard to get the certifications he needed to be qualified for this position.” “No harder than you’ve been working on your masters degree,” Nick countered. “Jake and I are proud of both of you,” I quickly announced. “Yes, we are,” Jake added. “We’re very proud of both of you.” We stopped talking once our meals arrived and the food was excellent. After we finished eating, we went back to the house and watched an Atlanta Braves baseball game on TV. It was not only entertaining, but it also gave us a chance to rest up for the following day, because Nick and Shannon warned us that they had a lot planned for while we were here, and they most certainly did. When we woke up on Sunday, Shannon and Nick asked if we’d ever watched The Walking Dead. “Why do you want to know that?” Jake asked. “The show is filmed in the greater Atlanta area and we thought if you watched any of it then you might enjoy it if we took you to see some of the places where they filmed the show.” “Yes, that sounds interesting,” I agreed. “We watched it with the older boys after the younger ones went upstairs to get ready for bed, and I can’t wait to see some of the places where they filmed the show.” To start off, Nick and Shannon drove us down Freedom Parkway so we could experience the same view as the famous scene when Rick first rode a horse into Atlanta. “I thought he entered Atlanta on I-85,” Pop stated. “That’s what the show wanted you to believe, but they actually filmed it on Freedom Parkway,” Nick informed us. From there, we went to see the hospital where Rick woke up at the start of the series. It wasn’t a hospital in real life, the producers merely made the Atlanta Mission appear to be a hospital. After that, they drove us by Rick’s house, which supposedly was in the suburbs, and where Rick goes after leaving the hospital. We couldn’t actually go inside because it’s privately owned, and then they drove past Morgan’s house after that. Once we left there, they drove us by the Sheriff’s station where Rick worked and went to collect all the weapons and ammunition he could find. It wasn’t actually a Sheriff’s station in real life either, just a clinic they made to look like one. Once Rick had the weapons and ammunition, he parted ways with Morgan and Morgan’s son and headed to Atlanta. After that, Nick and Shannon took us to the area where Rick ran into the hordes of walkers. It was also where he had to hide inside a tank and where he eventually met Glen. Once we looked around that area, they drove us by the survivors’ camp where Rick found his wife, Lori, son, Carl, and friend and fellow deputy, Shane. They then drove us over to the former nursing home where Rick and the others faced off with the street gang that had kidnapped Glen and had taken the weapons Rick left in the street when he hid in the tank. After that, they drove us by the CDC headquarters so we could see that it hadn’t actually been blown up, like in the first season finale. “All of those places were all from season one,” Nick informed us, “and now we’re going to take you to see a couple of places from the later seasons.” Nick then drove to the next location and we were soon looking at Terminus (seasons 4 & 5), the train yard that promised ‘Sanctuary for all’. “Did you know that Terminus was actually an early name for Atlanta?” Shannon asked. It was a fact that neither Jake nor I were aware of. “It was given that name because it was located at the end of the Western & Atlantic railroad line.” Once we left there, they drove us over to see the place that was used for The Kingdom, which was ruled by King Ezekiel and his tiger, Shiva. (season 7) “Those are the most important sites to see here in Atlanta, and now we’re going to leave the city and head south to see some of the other locations where they filmed the show,” Nick announced. He then drove through some rural areas until we reached the next location, Hershel’s farm from season 2. It lies just outside of the town of Senoia, but all we could see was the long driveway that led up to the house. It’s private property and the owners don’t want fans of the show constantly showing up and roaming around the property, so we moved on. After we left there, Nick and Shannon took us to see the prison where Rick and the others lived in season 3. It’s actually a sound stage located on a back lot, so we were only able to observe it from a distance. The prison was where Lori died in childbirth, and as Rick was hallucinating while dealing with his wife’s death, Carl was forced to put a bullet in his mother’s brain to prevent her from turning into a zombie. Even though we were slightly disappointed about not being able to explore Hershel’s farm and the prison, things improved at the next location. Nick took us to a quaint little town, parked the car, and then we got out so we could walk around. “Does any of this look familiar to you?” he asked. “Is this Woodbury from season 3?” “Yes, but only the fictional Woodbury. There’s an actual town named Woodbury in another part of Georgia and this is the town of Senoia. If you recall, this is the barricaded town where the Governor ruled his followers with an iron fist.” We then walked up and down the Main Street of Senoia and were able to recognize many of the buildings that we had seen on The Walking Dead. In addition to the buildings, we also recognized the grassy divide between the two lanes of Main Street, which had served as the location for many of the dramatic scenes that took place here. As we walked to the end of the street, Shannon pointed at a location about 100 yards (91.5 m) in front of us and spoke. “Does that look familiar?” “Is that the fence around Alexandria?” asked Jake. “Yes, it’s Alexandria from season 5. We can walk down there and check out the outside of the fence, but we can’t go inside. The houses are owned by individual families and they don’t want people constantly walking up and down their streets.” “I can understand that.” We peeked through the opening and saw some of the houses from a distance, and it appeared to be a very nice-looking community. Since there was nothing left to see, Shannon asked a question. “I hope you’re hungry because there’s a restaurant here in Senoia that we think you’ll want to see. It’s called Nic & Norman’s and it’s owned by Greg Nicotero, who produces The Walking Dead and has directed some of the episodes, and Norman Reedus, who plays Daryl Dixon.” We’d been so fascinated with all of the various locations that we’d seen that we hadn’t realized how late it was. We quickly agreed we were all hungry and would like to grab a bite at Nic & Norman’s, but I wasn’t sure if we’d be having an extremely late lunch or an early dinner. When we walked inside the building, it was a simple set up, but it was very clean and welcoming. There were booths on the right and center, tables in the front, and a bar on the left. Neither Nic nor Norman wasn’t there at the time, but the staff was friendly and I was surprised at the number of other people there, considering the time of day. The menu consisted mostly of burgers, sandwiches, soups, and salads, but they offered a half-dozen entrees as well. The food was quite tasty, and we all enjoyed our meals. It was a nice break after walking around in the hot sun for the past couple of hours. “I’m glad you brought us here,” I told Nick and Shannon as we were leaving. “Yes, the whole day has been extremely interesting, and it was nice of you two to do this for us,” Jake confirmed. Once we got in the car, we headed back to their house and we talked about our outing during the ride there. Once we got to the house, we relaxed in their living room and Jake and I spent some time filling them in about Xander and TJ. Once we answered their questions, we watched a movie before showering and turning in. We started Monday off with a very filling breakfast, and then Nick and Shannon took us to tour the Fox Theater. “This was originally intended to be part of a large Masonic Shrine Temple, but it was eventually developed into part of the Fox Theater chain.” It was a fabulous structure and beautifully decorated with a Moorish theme, although it also has an Egyptian ballroom. The theater is now used to showcase Broadway musicals, the Atlanta Ballet, the summer film series, occasional concerts, and performances by popular artists, including comedians. During the tour, we also got to see Mighty Mo, which is a custom built, four keyboard pipe organ. “It’s the second-largest theater organ in the country,” Shannon told us, “right behind the Wurlitzer at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. It’s situated on a lift so it can be raised and lowered as required, and it’s located at the corner of the stage, house left, next to the orchestra pit.” The organ was spectacular, and the entire building was quite a site to behold. “Did you enjoy this?” Shannon asked as we were leaving. “Yes, very much,” Jake answered. “They certainly don’t build theaters as elaborate as this any longer,” I added, “and it’s nice to see the wonderful craftsmanship that was put into theaters like this in the past.” In the afternoon, they took us to see the College Football Hall of Fame. The first thing we did was to go down a tunnel to enter the quad. It was kind of like being on a team and going down a tunnel to enter the field on game day. Once there, we stood facing a three-story high wall capable of lighting up to display the helmets of 760 different schools, one at a time. There was also a line of people waiting their turn to put up the helmet of their favorite team. From there we went to see the indoor playing field and watched as some of the youngsters and slightly older people tested their ability. We observed them as they ran a gauntlet of tackling dummies, attempted to kick a field goal, or threw a football like their favorite QB. “Do you want to try any of these things?” Nick asked. “I’m no longer young and spry enough to do any of those things,” I replied. “Same here,” Jake agreed. “Then we won’t do it either,” Nick announced, “since we don’t want to show you up.” We knew he was teasing us, because he was never into athletics. Once we left there, we went to explore the area that was home to the various inductees and different awards, such as the Heisman Trophy and the National Championship Trophy. As we were finishing up there, Nick asked what we thought of our visit. “I’ve been to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio,” responded Jake, “but I like this one the best. The others are nice and you get to see various artifacts from players of the past, plus you get to see the busts of what they looked like. Here they use technology and give you an in-depth story about every player and coach who has been inducted so far.” We stopped to eat on the way back to their house, and then we spent a nice quiet evening chatting about our day before showering and getting ready for bed. On Tuesday, they took us to the World of Coca-Cola. It’s a museum that tells the history of The Coca-Cola Company and it’s located in Atlanta because the soft drink was first developed there in 1886 by a pharmacist named Dr. John S. Pemberton. There’s actually a statue of Pemberton just outside of the building, along with other statues of him on the inside, which we saw as we made our rounds through the various displays. There were gigantic decorative Coca-Cola bottles in the lobby as we entered, along with a Polar Bear from one of the more recent Coca-Cola commercials. It’s merely a person in a polar bear costume, but you could have a photo taken with it and the children seemed to enjoy doing this. “Do you want a photo to take back and show your grandsons?” Shannon teased. “No, we don’t want to hold up the kids who are waiting in line,” Jake responded. As we moved on, we saw various advertisements decorating the walls that had been used to inform the public about this product throughout the years. We saw posters and signs from the turn of the 20th century and on up to the present, and you could definitely tell which ones were from which time period. There was even a display case that held Mean Joe Green’s football jersey that he tossed to the young boy who gave him a bottle of coke after a game in a 1979 commercial. “So how many of those things did you recognize?” Nick asked. “I only recognized the things from the 1970s on up,” Jake replied, “especially Mean Joe Green’s football jersey.” “I didn’t recognize any of the earlier ones, but I remembered many of those from the late 1950’s until now,” I admitted. “Gee, we thought you’d remember all of them,” Nick teased. After that we saw examples of the various cans and bottle designs that had been used throughout the years, and there was also an assortment of antique vending machines and delivery vehicles. “My uncle drove a delivery truck for Coca-Cola, but his truck was slightly more modern than the yellow one in front of us,” I pointed out. We also came across an area where we watched a robotic assembly line move, fill, and cap bottles before they were packaged and sent off to be sold. Once we left there, we came across a large vault that supposedly contained the Coca-Cola Company’s secret formula, which has changed throughout the years. That’s because the original formula contained coca leaves and kola nuts – hence its name. The kola nuts are a source of caffeine, and the coca leaves helped Dr. Pemberton deal with the pain from an injury he received during the war. There was also a Coca-Cola Theater that showed a six minute-film entitled, Moments of Happiness, as well as numerous displays that replayed some of the most memorable commercials from the past 70 years. The last area we came to was a tasting room where you could try many products made by the Coca-Cola Company, including the Fanta and Mr. Pibb brands. They also offered some of the flavors that were only sold in other nations and were very different from what we were used to. It was a unique experience to be able to taste some of the international flavors, and we found some we liked and others we wished we hadn’t tried. As we were leaving, I made a comment. “Seeing we’re basically from three different generations, I’m sure there were different items that appealed to each of us. As I said earlier, my uncle was a delivery man for Coca-Cola, so I remember some of the older advertisements because he would bring a copy of them home to hang in his barn. I also remember the chest vending machine where you would slide the bottle along the metal track until you got it to the point where it would be released when you put in your money. It cost a nickel to buy a Coke back then.” “Damn, we weren’t that lucky, but a Coke was cheaper when we were kids than it is now,” Shannon confirmed. “I got a kick out of seeing the Max Headroom commercials,” Jake added. “He was a pretty famous character back in the 80s and I bet these two have never even heard of him.” “I remember you pointing him out,” Shannon stated. “He was the computer-generated guy with the flat head.” “His head wasn’t flat, that was just his hair.” “What I liked the most,” Nick announced, “was when the guy unlocked the case with the Olympic torches inside from the games held in different cities around the world.” “Yes, those were interesting,” Jake agreed. “Since Coke is a sponsor of the Olympics, they get to have them, and each torch was quite unique in the way it was designed.” “I got chills when I saw the torch that Mohammed Ali used when he lit the Olympic Flame in 1996,” I admitted. “Yes, that was pretty neat,” Nick agreed. Once we left there, we grabbed a quick bite to eat before stopping at Centennial Park, which wasn’t very far away from the World of Coca-Cola. The park was constructed for the 1996 Olympic Games held in Atlanta, and in the center there’s a huge torch and a seating area around it. The area was also well lit at night so you could enjoy it all day long. There were also upright Olympic rings made from cement and painted in the traditional colors that children could play in and climb on. There was another set of Olympic rings that were etched into the cement and had vents that water sprayed out of and shot into the air at various times. “I see a huge Ferris Wheel over there, so do you guys want to go for a ride on it?” I asked. “Yeah, we should do that because it will give you a great view of the city,” Shannon agreed. “It’s called ‘SkyView Atlanta’ and it is 200 feet (61 m) tall. It wasn’t built for the Olympics games and didn’t open until 2013, but you should try it before you go home.” Seeing they both agreed, we went up on it before we headed back to their house for the night. While we were eating breakfast the next morning, Jake and I didn’t even bother to ask what Nick and Shannon had planned for us today. After we finished our meal, we merely followed them out to their car and let them take us to the next location. It turned out to be the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and it proved to be another very interesting location. We started out in the section entitled The American Civil Rights Movement: Introduction to 1950s Urban South. We used the interactive displays to learn how violently the Jim Crow segregation laws were enforced and what it was like for the blacks during that period. Even with the promise in the Declaration of Independence saying ‘that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness’, it certainly didn’t seem to pertain to everyone in the south. Blacks were definitely treated as second class citizens and were forced to use separate water fountains and restrooms, as well as being relegated to substandard educational facilities and housing. They were also required to use designated entrances into public buildings, usually at the side or back of the facility, and they were required to stay in designated areas within the building. Their access to jobs was also limited, the pay low, and they were required to sit in the back whenever they used public transportation. If a black dared to break any of those rules, they were often beaten, jailed, or both, and on occasion they were even murdered, with lynching being a favored method to carry out this act. Even the blacks who fought in the armed services during World War 2 were forced to live under the same conditions when they returned home from the war and weren’t cut any slack. Our visit to this section was truly eye-opening, and it was difficult to comprehend the injustice the blacks in the south endured during that period of history. “Damn, how could anyone treat other human beings like that?” Shannon asked. “That’s the point. Those doing these things didn’t see the blacks as being human,” I responded. “But if we all descended from Adam and Eve, then why wouldn’t they be human?” countered Nick. “Precisely, but there were, and still are, groups that claim the lineage from Adam and Eve only pertains to the white race. They have no way of accounting for the black, brown, red, and yellow-skinned races.” “Aren’t the differences in skin color just an evolutionary adaptation?” Nick continued. “Many whites in the south didn’t believe in evolution, and many still don’t. Not only that, but even though the whites in the south claimed to be religious, they had no problem with breaking the sixth and ninth commandments. Those are the two that state: Thou shalt not kill (murder) and Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” “And some things haven’t changed much,” Jake added, referring to current events. “It’s sad, but true,” I concurred. The next areas we went to were about some of the things the blacks did during the 1960s in their effort to gain equal rights. The first was about the Freedom Riders, or the blacks who challenged the segregation rules and went in small groups to ride wherever they wanted on buses and trains. And the next area was about the Lunch Counter Sit-ins, a non-violent protest against segregation practices where blacks could only sit in certain areas at lunch counters. Each of these areas had devices you could use to listen to a narrative about those activities. That area was followed by a section about The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and there was a video we were able to watch. The purpose of the march was to advocate for the civil and economic rights of all African Americans. It was during this march that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his now famous I Have a Dream speech while standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial. The final area was titled The Three Hymns and was about the violence that followed The March on Washington. This included the murder of four girls at the church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, the murder of three Civil Rights workers in Mississippi, and the murders of two others in Alabama that led to another march, but this time from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. “I can definitely see why the blacks did all those things,” Nick stated. “Yes, and it helped to some extent, but there’s still a long way to go,” I replied. The next section was about The Global Civil Rights Movement and is about the struggles of others around the world. That was followed by The Dignity Museum, that focuses on the homeless population, and the final section was entitled The Morehouse College Martin Luther King Jr. Collection. He’s one of the college’s most famous alumni and they have approximately 10,000 items, consisting of handwritten notes, famous and lesser-known speeches, manuscripts, sermons, correspondence, and other writings. It also includes books from Dr. King’s personal library and a collection of photographs. “Wow! That was enlightening and depressing,” Jake stated as we were getting ready to leave. “There has been some progress made, but there’s still a long way to go. There are global issues as well, along with the problem of homelessness that still needs to be addressed.” “Yes, it seems like a never-ending battle,” I agreed. After a quick lunch, we went to the MLK Jr. National Historic Park next. After parking the car, we walked to the Visitor Center, and along the way Jake made a comment. “Look down. There are footprints in the sidewalk and there are names next to them.” “I read about this while we were planning where to take you,” Nick admitted. “This is the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame. Each important contributor to the civil rights movement has his own granite and bronze square to recognize his or her contributions to the cause.” We started reading some of the names as we walked along and we recognized many of them. It was definitely an impressive collection. Once we were inside the Visitor Center, we signed up for a time to tour MLK Jr.’s birth house, because only a limited number of people can go through it at one time. After we’d done that, we entered the exhibit area, which not only followed the life of MLK Jr., but also told the story of the Civil Rights Movement in general. It did this by using photos and video displays, as well as artifacts from that time period. This included the interior of a ‘colored’ school room, a segregated lunch counter, and the shell of a bus that had been fire bombed. There was also the Freedom Road walkway that was lined with many statues showing what the blacks would have looked like and how they would have dressed as they fought for equal rights. “That kind of puts everything into perspective,” Jake observed after seeing Freedom Road. “They risked their lives for a cause they believed in and one that might not help them personally, but it would help future generations.” After leaving the Visitor Center, we walked over to see the sarcophagus that contained the bodies of MLK Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King. It’s located on a small island surrounded by a small artificial pond to discourage people from trying to take mementos or attempting to vandalize the site. Once we left there, we walked over to MLK Jr.’s birth home to take advantage of our appointed tour time. The house was probably nicer than that of most of their contemporaries, such as the shotgun row houses across the street. This was most likely due to the fact that King’s grandfather and father were also preachers, but it still didn’t come close to the homes of white families of similar status in their communities. From there, we went to the original Ebenezer Baptist Church where both Jr. and Sr. had preached. It was a nice looking building, but it didn’t compare to some of the impressive churches where the whites worshipped. Before we left the park, we stopped to see Fire Station No.6, which was built in 1894 and initially housed steam engines pulled by horses. Those were replaced in 1918, and the fire station continued to serve the community until 1991. We also went to see the Prince Hall Masonic Temple, because it is where the Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC) established its initial headquarters in 1957. The SCLC was founded by Dr. King Jr. and he served as its first president. “So, what did you think of our last stop?” asked Shannon. “I found it to be very exhausting,” Jake answered, referring to all the walking we’d done. “I’m used to riding in a truck all day long.” “I found it exhausting as well, but I also thought it was very informative, interesting, and enlightening,” I added. “It was a very chaotic time in the south and many people died in the struggle. However, it all led up to President Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that ended segregation and employment discrimination based on race, color, sex, and national origin. President Kennedy had first proposed the legislation in 1963, but it was held up by a filibuster in the Senate. President Johnson pushed it through after Kennedy’s assassination and it became law in July of 1964. That was followed by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which is commonly referred to as the Fair Housing Act.” “I’m glad you didn’t find it to be a waste of time or too much,” Nick said as he breathed a sigh of relief. “I know you like history, but I wasn’t sure if this would be too much to do all in one day.” “No, it was fine for me, even though Jake and I found it physically taxing.” Jake nodded in agreement as we headed out to the car. We stopped for dinner on the way back, and when we reached their house, we talked a little more about our day as we watched another Braves game on TV. When the game ended, we showered and got ready for bed, since Jake and I realized they probably had another full day planned for us tomorrow
  14. Maybe I wasn't clear. What I meant is that I would have Joshie share his views when discussing it with others, like with his dads or with Benny. The conversations can be just as enlightening as narrating a chapter.
  15. I'll have to give that one some thought. I may just add more of his comments in discussion form instead.
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