Living History: from the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site Education Program


Hi, I’m Brooklyn Kilcrease and I’m Mark Godwin, and today we’re here with the Living History News. We are here today in Plains, Georgia home of the 39th President of the United States, Jimmy Carter. We’re gonna be taking you around town and showing you some places that are special to the president and Mrs. Carter. You might even get to meet both of them. Jimmy Carter grew up in Archery, Georgia about four miles from Plains. He worked on the farms, getting up at 4:00 a.m, sometimes to feed the chickens, sweep the yards, and chop the wood for the fire on the stove. He also carried buckets of water to the workers in the cotton and peanut fields that his daddy owned, and when he got older he milked the cows every day. Jimmy lived on the farm with his mama and daddy, his two sisters, Gloria and Ruth, and his brother Billy. This was his family and he loved them very much. But, there were other people in Archery and Plains whom he felt were just as important as his family. Bishop William Decker Johnson, an african-american bishop in the AME Church, was one of the people who left an impression on on the young Jimmy Carter. Julia Coleman, the principle of Plains High School, was another. Both of these taught him that there was more to expect out of life beside the small area he lived in. Mrs. Carter lived in Plains. She was a city girl, but Plains was a tiny town compared to the rest of the world. Her seventh grade teacher Thelma MacArthur opened the door to the outside world for Rosalyn. Guess what? We’re in front of the President and Mrs. Carter’s house in Plains. The road is blocked from the house and we had to get permission from the Secret Service to come in. I hope I don’t forget my questions. Here we go! Hello, Mark! Hello, Brooklyn! Welcome, welcome, come on in. Be glad to have you! How are you? How are ya’ll getting along? Is it hot out there? Yes, ma’am. Make yourself at home. We’d be glad to have you. You had one of the biggest jobs in the world. Now that you can slow down, what are some of your favorite hobbies and some important projects you’ve got to work on? Well, one of the things that we’ve learned to do is to be a birdwatcher. So we’ve got about 1,300 different species of birds on our list. We keep track every time we go to a foreign country. We try to do that. We walk a lot. We used to play tennis together. We go swimming together, and we’ve done downhill skiing together. I was 62 years old the first time I had skis on my feet and Rosalyn was 59. So we’ve tried to do a lot of things together, but, but more recently I’ve done a lot of painting. Never had any instructions but I like to paint and I’ve made furniture. Did you know that President Carter and Mrs. Carter spend most there time right here in Plains? He’s written over 30 books and she’s written several. They live in the same house they built back in the 1960s and the house is full of President Carter’s paintings and furniture that he’s made for Mrs. Carter. Across the street is a pond that is full of fish. They both like to fly fish. One of Mrs. Carter’s butterfly gardens is there, and they also have blueberries and plums. It’s very clear to us that President and Mrs. Carter are very happy together. They’ve been married for 72 years. Both President and Mrs. Carter went to Plains High School. I found out they both graduated in the 11th grade. There was no such thing as 12th grade then. Mrs. Carter was three years behind President Carter in school. But they had most of the same teachers and studied the same subjects. Mrs. Julia Coleman was a special teacher that they both had. She challenged all of her students to be as much as they could be. She even told President Carter that he could be President one day if he wanted to be. What was school like? and were you a good student? School in Plains was pretty outstanding, and we had one of the best high schools in the whole state of Georgia. It was a very competitive environment. Because our superintendent, Mrs. Julia Coleman, liked for you know, students to compete with each other to see who was the best speller, who could write the best theme and composition, who could do the best acting in the one-act plays, and who could debate better, so we were constantly competing with each other almost every week. So, we learned to do things quite well in Plains and then we would sometimes compete on the congressional district basis and we would win, and sometimes winning the state competition for academic purposes. So, it was a very good school and I would say that the main thing that I liked was reading and Mrs. Julia had a list of a hundred books of increasing difficulty that she would have on a list of books in the library And I was the only student who ever read all of them. And I remember, when I was 12 years old, I read “War and Peace,” which is a very advanced book. I liked school very much and I would say I was a good student. My favorite subjects were always the maths. I know I can’t really think now, about why I so much just did not like social studies. That was my, that was the one that I liked the least. But, I always liked math and when Jimmy and I got married he was in the Navy for seven years after we got married, We came home and he started Because his father died and he came along and took over the business, and I started keeping books for him and I kept the books until a few years ago when I let somebody else do it. But I think that if I had had to choose an occupation, which I’m glad I never had to do, I would have been an accountant because I loved the numbers and having them balanced and so forth. I even kept, I wrote out checks when Jimmy was president. Today Plains high school serves at the visitor center for the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site. It’s image throughout the school give the public an up-close look at the life of the Carters. You can also see President Carter’s Nobel Peace Prize. How did it feel to win a Nobel Peace Prize, and what does world peace mean to you? I think that the main reason that I got it was a because of the good work the Carter Center has done because we had a program in 80 different countries in the world at the Carter Center and We were negotiating peace agreements ,we were holding elections for people who were in trouble to promote democracy and freedom and we were taking care of people who were afflicted with diseases that had been eliminated in the developed nations of the world. We were doing all those things and so I think that that the combination of my helping of promote peace when I was in the White House and Also, all the good work of the Carter Center combined is what gave me the Nobel Peace Prize So peace to me means not just an absence of war but a kind of a commitment on the part of an entire nation to preserve peace under almost every circumstance, and to avoid any attitude of hatred Against other people who are different from you and to try to get along with people and but still preserve your own principles that don’t back down or things that are very important to your country. That’s not always an easy thing to, to achieve. President Carter launched his campaign for president here in Plains His office was at the old train depot and visitors from all over the world came to Plains to see where he and Mrs. Carter lived. the Carters came back the night he won his race and stood right here to thank all the people who helped in the campaign. You know, we’re standing where history was made. What was your favorite thing about living in the White House? It was a good life, and we had our family there with us, a good many children, Amy was there and And we had an upstairs floor Actually two, the upstairs had us and Amy went on another one. we had another third floor after that, our boys were there. All of them, but Jack went with us from the White House. Amy had a real good life in the White House. She was just nine years old when I became president and she had been through the governor’s Turn also in the governor’s mansion so she was quite accustomed to public life and she went to a public school not to a private school and She had a lot of very interesting classmates in school That she would bring to the White House sometime for the weekend to go swimming and to watch movies and things like that So I think Amy enjoyed being in the White House as much as anybody President and Mrs. Carter could have lived anywhere They wanted one that left the White House. Their Presidential Library, along with the Carter Center, is in Atlanta and they have an apartment back there. Well, they chose to come back home. They wanted to live where their parents lived and were the most important people in their lives lived. They want to live where people believed in them, encouraged them to go as far as they could in life. Imagine, a young boy from a town of 600 who’s encouraged by his family and teachers to be the best, and he actually went out and did that, becoming the 39th President of the United States, and along the way he convinced the girl down the street to go with him, and she became the First Lady of the United States. You know, we can all be whatever we set our minds to be. Right? Right! You

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