When Mom and Dad go on a road trip they like to stop and see at least three things a day. Saturday we got up early and headed out.
Our first trip was the Northeast Georgia Folk Pottery Museum, in Sautee Naucoochee.
Much of the collection focused on the Meaders family, who started making utility pottery in the late 19th century. The potter would turn the wheel by pushing the lever with one foot–the pots they made varied in size from cream jugs to butter churns, and they started by digging the clay out of the ground, mixing it in a mule-turned mixing thing, and grinding their own glazes between a granite wheel. There was a movie of some of the family members, and they were all thin men with Popeye forearms. Hard work. There are still Meaders in pottery today, though not on such a large scale.
There's also a tradition in this area of making face jugs:
The teeth are usually stone chips and the eyes might be stones or lighter clay. In the video one of the Meaders said "I don't know why people started making them unless it was to make the children be good." In the gift shop a modern baseball-sized face jug went for $40. Head-sized ones went for hundreds.
After the museum we went to Lovely Alpine Helen (that's the title on the tourist brochures). Back in the late 1960s the city fathers were looking for a way to make people taking the highway through town stop a while and spend some money. One of the fathers had been in Germany in World War II and had the idea to make the town quaintly Bavarian. (the first two businesses you see when you enter Helen are a Mexican restaurant and an Indian palm reader, but nevermind). The rest of the town is twenty pounds of quaint Bavarianness crammed into a ten-pound sack.
Everything is Bavarianized:
If you're not familiar with Huddle House, it's kind of like a less successful Waffle House. If you're not familiar with either Huddle or Waffle Houses, imagine an IHOP crossed with one of those drive-up photo development booths that used to be built in a day in strip mall parking lots. When we sat down the waitress told us our order would take a bit longer than usual because they were cleaning the grill. It didn't improve the food.
I would like to see Helen's building codes:
The shops in Helen are full of tourist crap–name on a grain of rice? check. Photo in old west dress? check. Lovely Alpine Helen shot glass? check.
A lot of bikers like to go through the North Georgia mountains because the roads are smooth and twisty. The bikers seem to like Helen, too.
As I was passing an outdoor cafe with a dozen motorcycles parked out front and country music blaring out all over the diners, I realized: I really hate modern country music. Hank Williams Junior, your family tradition is being an @ssh*le. (I read a biography of your father–you are not the nut that fell far from the tree.) And Carrie Underwood? if you're stupid enough to scratch your own name into the leather seats of your cheating boyfriend's pretty little souped up four wheel drive, you deserve to be had up on charges.
Outside the strip of quaint Bavarianness the rest of Helen slopes off down the mountain, barricaded behind noise ordinance signs.
Do you want to see our third stop?
Babyland General is the US headquarters of the Cabbage Patch doll. If you can bring your own CPK to visit the mothership it gets a Visitor tag at the door so it's not mistaken for merchandise.
The old Babyland General was in an old house in downtown Cleveland. The new one doesn't have the taped crying baby noises in its preemie ward.
Aside from the CPK tableaux Babyland General is primarily a gift shop:
Don't you need a Babyland General shot glass? I know I do!
This is where Cabbage Patch Kids come from:
Did you think it was a factory in China? No, certainly not! I thought we'd have to go away without seeing an actual CPK birth but just as we were leaving the big announcement came over the loudspeaker "Mother Cabbage dilated eight leaves!"
Of course I hustled Mom and Dad back to the viewing area.
It was twins! This is the boy. When the babies are born the doctors ask for names from the audience so this is Jordan Kyle. After the delivery he and his sister Hannah Meagan will be adoptable for indulgent-grandparent prices.
Mom and Dad left this morning, so they're off on new adventures. Before they left I printed off a list of stations carrying the NCAA tournament so they can get the State game on the radio (last night we stopped between hands of cards to catch the last 40 seconds of West Virginia vs. Kentucky). Go State!