October 2012

Smithfield, Illinois is where the studio of artist and muralist Harold Kee Welch is located. The studio and museum is located in the old telephone building which was originally a bank. During the Spoon River Drive, Welch’s studio was open and his son Franklin “Chico” Welch played his violin entertaining guests as they looked at Welch’s artwork. Like a pied piper, his melody drew visitors into the studio to be wowed with the art that was created decades ago.

Born in Smithfield, Welch has created hundreds of paintings, carvings, murals and sculptures that are in private collections all over the country. His 16’ x 80’ mural depicting the life of Abraham Lincoln and Illinois that was originally commissioned by the first National Bank of Springfield is currently being considered for reinstallation at various places.

His wood-relief carving “The Good Samaritan” hangs in Peoria’s Memorial Hospital. The artist returned to Smithfield in 1963 with his wife and five children working in this studio he created many watercolors of the Spoon River drive where he lived and worked over the years

For information about those watercolors, call 309-783-3121.

Fun on the Spoon River Drive.

Fun on the Spoon River Drive.

My cousin from California along with my husband and I set out on the Spoon River Drive. Located in Fulton County, the river wends its way through the countryside and along the way vendors set up with items from antiques to collectibles to flea market items. “This is a combination swap meet and collection of cool antiques,” my cousin described the event.

With food along the way, clear blue sky and the trees blazing fall colors, the festival is a way to unwind and enjoy autumn before the snow flies.

If you get the chance, take the scenic drive!

Americus Georgia as down home as it gets!

Americus Georgia as down home as it gets!

Wending our way south to the Florida Flywheelers last February we took a detour and ended up in the lovely town of Americus, Georgia. Our friend Beth had directed us to the restaurant Rosemary & Thyme using her IPAD app. This neat little eatery serves local ingredients following the Farm to Table philosophy.

To make it even better, is is located in the turret of the historic BEST WESTERN PLUS Windsor Hotel. Right on main street, this hotel was built in 1892, to attract winter visitors from the north.

It surely did the trick attracting these Yankees to stop and gander at what was a 100 room, five story Victorian style hotel complete with tower and turret, balconies, and a three story open atrium lobby. the hotel overpowers the area covering most of the block.

The website shared that , “The hotel closed its doors in 1972 after almost 80 years in operation. In 1991, the hotel re-opened after a $6.5 million dollar renovation. In 2010, the hotel underwent an extensive renovation… On June 15th 2010, the hotel joined the Best Western family hosting a re-grand opening to remember with special guest attendees Former President and Mrs. Carter…”

We took the grand tour and even tried out the ice cream parlor and walked up to check out Floyds Pub to get a gander at the rocking chairs on the veranda. As Beth and I rocked, we looked out and saw a truck loaded with a huge John Deere tractor on its way to a new owner.

Americus, Georgia is also home to Thirteenth Colony Distillery which I was able to sample at a culinary experience in St. Simon’s King & Prince Beach and Golf Resort. The Distillery’s history shared that they began as a casual conversation among four friends when talking about the nature of distilling. The conversation led to the only craft distillery in Georgia drawn from the Souths largest, deepest and oldest aquifer.

A lovely theater, great food and a main street that comes right out of a Hallmark movie, I want to go back when I can do more that just sit for a spell.

The farmhouse on Jimmy Carter's Boyhood Home

The farmhouse on Jimmy Carter's Boyhood Home

We have always been interested in tractors and antique equipment owned by former Presidents. A visit last February to the Jimmy Carter Boyhood Farm outside of Plains, Ga was an interesting stop.

Ian Pierson, Park Guide at the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site provided a tour sharing details about how the family lived. He added that the house had been restored to the 1938 pre-electricity days.
When asked whether they ever used a tractor on the farm, Ian had to ask the former President and responded a while later. “Mr. Earl Carter bought a John Deere A in 1942, but President Carter said he would only use it to break ground.”

Jimmy Carter’s boyhood farm is located near the community of Archery which is just a stone throw’s two and one-half miles away. The Jimmy Carter Boyhood Farm is part of the National Historic Site. The farm includes the house outbuildings and the general store that sits alongside the farmhouse near the clay tennis court that Ian said, Jimmy Carter played on in his youth.

While we didn’t find tractors, we did find an array of plows and a one lovely windmill! Whatever your political leanings, it is a nice stop for anyone interested in history and farming circa 1940.