Sunday, 31 March 2013

Macon, Georgia and cannonballs

In my quest for antebellum-ness and in a fit of enthusiasm that is quite unlike me, I booked myself into a hotel in Macon for the last night of my trip to Atlanta. Now, perhaps it would be a reasonable critique of my decision to say that maybe, just maybe, I should have checked just how far Macon was from anywhere on a map - but I like to live a little dangerously!

In consequence, I spent most of Friday driving along the manic freeways that are the backbone to Georgia. I made life just a little more difficult for myself by deciding that it would be a good idea to meet Mikey out on the trail with breakfast. This resulted in a 150 mile round trip and two hours of walking - but look at his little face, it was worth it, no?

By the way, you might be curious as to what the terrain is like that Mike is walking through. The photo to the left would suggest that it's lots of spectacular views (weather permitting) and standing around eating peanut butter and jam bagels. It's not.

This photo more accurately shows the general terrain. It's up and down hills shrouded in thick woods on both sides. Hard work to achieve these few view points. more info here at Mikey's blog.
So, I arrived into Macon at about 5pm. Just as the museums were closing. I was staying at a place called the 1842 Inn, because it was built in 1842. It was quaint. I'm not sure if it was ironic or not, but the staff in the place were all black, and were all dressed in a slightly subservient uniform and didn't make eye contact, which I found a wee bit spooky.

The Macon residential area survived the civil war, despite many of its houses being made of wood, and that Sherman was still happy with his "scorched earth" policy. I think Macon got lucky that Sherman despatched General Stoneman to deal with the town (which was the main manufacturing site for shells and cannon, so was a legitimate target). Stoneman seems to have been a bit daft - he didn't think to check how he should cross the flooded Ocmulgee river to get into the town to attack it. He managed to get himself cut off and arrested.

Macon town today is a bit of a sad derelict place. A wandered into downtown, and apart from a very few restaurants it really is dead. This is the main street of Macon. If ever there was a place that needed money, this is it.
After a mediocre dinner, I wandered back to the hotel, past several decaying relics of the pre war period.

This one is for sale. I imagine the asking price will not be that huge if you are interested, and it almost certainly has a history! Big house too. But no cannonballs, I'm afraid!

I decided that sepia might be a bit more sympathetic. This house could be in Inverness really.

The next morning, I had time to visit one of the three house tours that were open to me. I narrowed the list down to two immediately, because I did not know where the third one was. Also, it is famous because the owner was famous - Sidney Lanier?  Apparently a poet, but not one I know of!

My choices were "The Hay House". Here is a photo. It is apparently an architectural gem. Cost was $10 though, and tour was only once an hour. I'm too impatient for that sort of nonsense!

This is the Cannonball House. I know it looks less interesting, but it was the only house in Macon to be hit by a cannonball! It was also only $6 and as I was the only visitor, I got a very personal tour! Loads of interesting stuff (I have photos of lots of this, but will not bore you)

It should be noted that even the two ladies looking after the cannonball house were surprised to the point of distress that I had walked passed Hay House to visit them. One of them recommended I go to the Hay House, and come back if I have time. But by then, the die was cast.

The house had a complicated history, and given that my only documentary evidence of this is a photo of a metal plaque that was created in the 1970's and is incorrect, you are not going to be much wiser than me at the end of this blog!

It was built in 1853 by Judge Holt, who planned to retire here with his wife... who died. So, not a man to be gainsaid, he remarried (a woman 40 years his junior) and she moved in.

Inevitably, the old Judge died. and his widow remarried - this time to someone who was young enough to consummate the marriage, and they had children. The last descendent of this union died in the 1970's. Unable to pay her taxes in the 1960's she had reached a deal with some historic society that they would buy the house from her, so that she could continue to live there.

As part of this deal, or maybe just to earn a few pennies, she hosted tours of the house. Often she was not "ready to receive" visitors when they arrived, so she used to lower a front door key out of her bedroom window, and invite people to help themselves! Sounds like my sort of woman!

So the house is full of old tat. (basically the last living descendant had sold everything before letting the historic society near the house, so any old tat that has been donated in the last 40 years is hanging on the walls). I could share the photos - but you won't enjoy them.

I liked this quilt though. It inspired me. To do what, I'm not sure.
Before I leave Georgia, there is one last thing worthy of note. There is an unhealthy obsession with accents. Some woman that I brushed past in a shopping mall exclaimed "Oh, I lurve yo accent!" Many people claim to be able to imitate the "Briddish" accent (I NEVER took them up on that. It would probably have been embarrassing). But perhaps the worse thing of all is the impact that this focus on accents has on me. I suddenly became more posh than the bloody Queen! I actually walked up to one poor man (who had been admiring my accent earlier) and said "I should like to take the opportunity to procure one of these fine garments from you" (a T-shirt). What is wrong with me??

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