Posted by: justnaturallyme | March 6, 2011

Travel South-Atlanta

Homemade Jamz entertains

When we arrived back at the Omni Hotel in Atlanta, I just had time to register. Luckily, I hooked up with one of my good traveling buddies, Renee Gordon, at the desk. We tossed out stuff in our rooms and headed off for the Tabernacle where the Mississippi Tourism Luncheon was being held. SAw another fellow traveler there, Doc Lawrence.

The building is beautiful. Filled with architectural elements and vivid colors. It was also filled with good smells from the food and wailing blues notes from the band. Homemade Jamz was a fantastic band. They have won multiple award even though the oldest member is just 18 and the youngest is 12. When the lead singer had flames streaming out the pipes of his double-necked guitar, he redefined hot licks.

After a bountiful feast and an interesting introduction to Mississippi’s new branding slogan, “Find your South in Mississippi” we were free until evening.

Antique Delivery Truck at WOCC

The evening’s reception for us journalists only was held at The World of Coca-Cola. They had hors d’oeuvres and drinks and welcomed us to Atlanta. I met up with a few other journalists friends I have traveled with in the past: Christine, April, Bobby, Kevin, Apryl and others. We were free to wander the museum at our own pace. Here is a sample from my Georgia’s Ghostly Getaways that tells what is found there.

The new World of Coca-Cola moved from its former location in 2007 and already is garnering praise for the new facility. Marketing Manager Jacquie Wansley stated,  “This new facility is large enough to house 1,200 artifacts from around the world.  It showcases the history of the country’s favorite carbonated beverage.”

One visitor remarked, “I never realized Coke has been a part of our history for so long.”

A nostalgic tour of Coke-inspired pop-art and a 4-D movie combine to make this attraction fun for all ages. Everybody agrees the best part is the tasting. You can sample Coke products from all over the world. 

Our dinner at Georgia Aquarium

The fun continued next door at Georgia Aquarium. We were wined, dined and entertained by a very hot band. Again we were able to wander to our heart’s content among the exhibits.

With more 100,000 animals of 500 different species, Georgia Aquarium is the world’s largest. Entered from the central atrium, the aquarium’s five galleries, Georgia Explorer, River Scout, Ocean Voyager, Coldwater Quest and Tropical Diver, offer an in-depth look at different aquatic environments. The aquarium has the world’s largest tank, holding more  than 6 million gallons, making it almost as large as a football field. This is the only aquarium outside of Asia that has whale sharks and two manta rays. It’s also home to several Beluga whales. As you can imagine we all had a great time.

Our waiter brings guessed it...More fried green tomatoes

Wednesday  was devoted to meetings which were helpful to me to get new places to write about but would bore you readers to tears so, I’ll skip to the fun part. We did have a lovely luncheon provided by Travel South with a cute skit based on Glee, the TV show. For dinner  we got another taste of Southern cooking at Mary Mac’s. That restaurant has been a local legend for many years. Fried green tomatoes are one of my favorites. They ring my Yummy-Meter right up there with fried chicken and chocolate anything but I have had more fried green tomatoes during these ten days than ever before in my life. Not complaining but just noting that one of my favorites is becoming very popular.

Curtis Ritchardson weaves his magic Brer Rabbit story

Thursday morning was  a new attraction for me. We visited Wren’s Nest, the home of Joel Chandler Harris.  Lain Shakespeare, the director, is the great-great-great-grandson of Harris and can offer many insides to his family history. Although born the illegitimate son of an Irish laborer, Harris got the best of a classic education from his mentor, Joseph Addison Turner and at the same time a completely different education from his African slave friends on Turner’s  plantation. Among people like Uncle George Terrell, Old Harbert, and Aunt Crissy, Harris felt more at home than among the white elite.

Curtis Richardson, one of the museum storytellers kept us enthralled with his renditions of several Brer Rabbit stories. We were all in stitches with his re-enactments  of the characters. The man has a great talent.

After the museum, we returned to the World Congress Convention Center for another Glee Luncheon. Then it was a mad dash from my hotel room to the nearest post office located in CNN to mail out all my goodies and paperwork. It was a struggle but better than trying to drag them to the airport later and pay ridiculous extra luggage fees.

One of Scarlett's costumes at the GWTW Museum

Then it was on the Jonesboro, home of the Gone With the Wind Museum and Stately Oaks and not incidentally site of one of the most important battles of the War Between the States. Our guide was Peter Bonner of Historical and Hysterical Tours. He led us through Jonesboro in  away Sherman might have envied. Of course Peter left no destruction behind just interesting stories and inside observations. One of my favorite of these inside stories was one I cited in my Georgia’s Ghostly Getaways, second edition. It relates to the notorious

John Henry “Doc” Holliday, the gunfighter. The Hollidays were relatives of Margaret Mitchell’s grandmother who lived at the Holidays’ home while she attended Fayetteville Academy. While Margaret Mitchell was researching GWTW, she visited Fayetteville and located many of the graves of her great-grandfather’s family buried in the city’s cemetery. This was the nucleus of the O’Hara clan. Scarlett O’Hara attended the fictional Fayetteville Female Academy.

It’s not a big stretch to assume she also based the characters of Melanie and Ashley on her distant cousins, Mattie Holliday and Mattie’s first cousin and love of her life, John Henry “Doc” Holliday. As everyone familiar with the famed gambler and gunfighter knows, he left home after he was not allowed to marry his cousin. She entered the convent and took the name Sister Melanie.

Peter noted that when Doc Holliday died his possessions including correspondence with Sister Melanie, which had continued throughout his lifetime, were returned to the Holliday family. The family burned the letters claiming “there was nothing of historical significance in them.” What a loss to fans of GWTW!

Peter Bonner, our guide, Scarlett and Art Carvy at Stately Oaks

Then on to Stately Oaks where we were greeted by Scarlett, Union officer Art Carvy, and the talented docents. Here again I fall back on my book for the description.

Margaret Mitchell’s great-grandfather, Philip Fitzgerald, lived in Jonesboro, and it is commonly believed that Stately Oaks was the inspiration for Tara. It is an 1839 plantation home built by Whitmell Allen. It was located four miles north of Jonesboro, where Union soldiers camped on its grounds during the Battle of Jonesboro, until it was moved to its present location. It is now the headquarters of Historical Jonesboro/Clayton County, Inc.

I was enthralled by the docents stories as they led us through the house and grounds and strongly recommend it for any one visiting Atlanta.

Are those costumes gorgeous or what?

That night was the closing dinner hosted by next year’s Travel South Host, Kentucky Tourism and Louisville CVB. The event was staged as a Roaring Twenties Speakeasy. It was held at Ventanas, a rooftop venue with floor to ceiling windows allowing you fabulous views of  Atlanta’s  night skyline. Everything was staged perfectly, When you arrived you needed to give the password, Kentucky whiskey makes you frisky, through a slot in the door to be admitted. Once inside you found your hosts all dressed like characters for a old flapper movie. I saw more men who looked like close relatives of Al Capone and all the women sported gorgeous dresses with fringe and sequins, the costume completed with a cigarette in a long holder. Fortunately none were lit.

The Atlanta Skyline

I tried a delicious new bourbon by Jim Beam, Red Stag. It has a hint of black cherry and is great mixed with 7up. The food was all southern too complete with my old friend fried green tomatoes. I did pig out. Enough to last me through my non-existent meals on the flight to Shreveport for the next leg of my trip. But as Scarlett would say, “Tomorrow is another day.”

Who knows maybe I’ll even get it posted later today.

For more info:

Mary Mac’s
World of Coca Cola
Wren’s Nest
GWTW Museum
Stately Oaks
Kentucky Dept of Tourism



  1. I am a friend of Peter Bonner’s and have been searching for a picture like the one you have used of him and Scarlett to use in my ad in the Georgia Group Tour Planner. Do you have this picture in high resolution? Can I use it?

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