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April 23rd, 2008 · 1 Comment

I spent a day and a half in Atlanta this week.

I do not like Atlanta.

Atlanta is fast, loud, dirty and, basically, all up in my face.  But I had an opportunity to spend a day and evening with some very good friends, and hear some good music with them.  So I went to Atlanta.

My friends live in Duluth, about twelve miles north of the I-285 loop.  Their neighborhood is well off the main roads, and quiet.  It is not the Atlanta I know.  There is greenery everywhere.  It was lovely.

We drove into Atlanta Tuesday night.  The show was in Little Five Points.  We pulled right into a parking spot on the street, five minutes before the show, about three doors away from the theatre.  Again, not a typical Atlanta occurrence.

The concert featured Nick Lowe with Ron Sexsmith as the opening act.  It was a superlative show.  Tommy T from Birmingham was there (he blogged briefly about the show here).  We all sat together.  Everybody was happy and grinning (Tommy T was not exaggerating, because I saw him grinning, too.).  It sure didn’t feel like Atlanta.

After the show, we went over to Manuel’s Tavern.  The place was filled with Democrats.  Democrats!  They had the CNN wrap-up of the Pennsylvania primary on the big TV screens.  It felt like Cambridge, but it was Atlanta.

When I finally got to bed, I was lulled to sleep by the sound of birds outside my window.  In Atlanta.  Go figure.

The next day I drove back to the area around Little Five Points and visited the Carter Presidential Library and Museum.  Smack dab in the middle of all of this Atlanta, the Carter Center sits like an oasis.  The Japanese garden behind the complex is quiet and meditative.  Just beyond its border of trees, you can see a boxy row of apartment buildings.  Somehow, this sight just accentuates the peacefulness of the spot.

The Carter museum is filled with all kinds of interesting artifacts from his public and personal life.  His Nobel Peace Prize is there.  His Navy uniform.  There are hundreds of political campaign materials: buttons, banners, bumper stickers, posters.  I did not see a poster that matched the green Carter/Mondale broadside that I own, but perhaps they have one stashed away in the archives.  One of the pieces that I spent a little extra time looking at was a small silver compact, given to Rosalyn by Jimmy, early in their relationship.  On its lid, the following letters were engraved: ILYTG.

This apparently represents a phrase that is a hand-me-down in the Carter family.  People in the family probably said it to each other at special moments.  It had been around for more than one generation.  It is akin to my grandmother’s INMF (“It’s not my forté”), or my mother’s IIFYTCTTD (“If it’s for you, they’ll come to the door”), phrases borne out of situations unique to our family, that sometimes get repeated completely out of context yet retain all of their flavor and meaning.  If I only had a nickel (IIOHAN) for every time I’ve heard one of these phrases repeated over the years…

The Carter phrase was a phrase of endearment, a folksy way to break the habit of that mundane three-word declaration of ardor.  One that revealed the contents of the heart to a dear loved one, or to one for whom that heart was engorged with passionate emotions.

“I love you the goodest.”

I stood in front of the glass display case and said the phrase out loud, and laughed.

Both were sounds that I never expected to hear in Atlanta.

Tags: history · language · politics

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Evelyn // Apr 28, 2008 at 6:37 PM

    Oh, the things we remember!

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