Atlanta in February. This does not have the same meaning as ‘springtime in Paris’.
The biggest southern city in the U.S is a driving kind of town. EVERYONE drives. I mean everywhere. And not in a horse and cart southern style kind of way. 300 metres down the road, I’ll catch a cab. The train station in the centre of the city even has an adjoining carpark.
Ironically the city of more than 5 million was originally settled in the 1830s between two railway lines. Destroyed by the Civil War the town was built up from the ashes to become the ‘all-American girl’ that she is today – home to Coca-Cola, CNN and (my pet hate) Delta Airlines.
In the centre of Midtown you’ll find Piedmont Park, the modern Georgian version of Central Park, where medium-sized high rises scatter around the sky line. On a busy Saturday the park was filled with ultimate Frisbee players, joggers, sleeping geese and weirdly security guards on golf buggies (why walk in this city when you can drive?).
Everyone was going about their business when I made a startling discovery. A bath house in the middle of the park, with an AQUATIC CENTRE and open air swimming pool. Okay, sure, it might have been minus 2 C (28 F) so no one was swimming, but this was a thing of azure blue beauty on a grey and miserable Winter’s day. I would SWIM that.
Unfortunately I couldn’t. A high fence and near frozen lake was stopping me. Not to mention the big signs telling me there was no lifeguard on duty, reminding me you’re never too far from a lawsuit in this country.
This was a ghost pool, with only water jets for company. There were also a LOT of rules compared to the Australian swimming that I’m used to.
Rule #2 no inflatables or snorkels, rule #9 no budgie smugglers (sorry Tony, no State visits here), #16 no photography (oops) and # 21 under no circumstances was there to be any lovin in that pool.
Rules aside, it looked like a great swim, and a perfect spot on a hot summer’s day. $4 admission with a max capacity of 150 swimmers.
With swimming off the agenda I was in search of some Southern charm and an American girl who I knew would break the rules. Less than one mile from Piedmont Park you can find ‘the dump,’ the shoebox apartment where America’s most famous novel ‘ Gone with the Wind’ was written by Margaret Mitchell.
Margaret was a woman after my own heart. Much like her beloved character ‘Scarlett’ (who she originally called Pansy, CAN you imagine), she didn’t like being told what to do, was a lifelong cat fan (cat named Dracula), an accomplished hypochondriac, and an unscrupulous flirt who had no issues dating two men at once.
Margaret churned out 80 chapters of G.W.T.W which she hid inside envelopes scattered around this tiny apartment., from underneath the couch to the kitchen freezer. Despite her protests these envelopes were eventually collected by a New York publisher and the rest as they say is history.
Modern day footnote, the proceeds of G.W.T.W now props up the Catholic church with the Atlanta Archdiocese now receiving 50 per cent of the profits, thanks to a generous bequest in 2012 from Margaret’s late nephew, and only surviving heir.
Fiddle-dee-dee indeed Scarlett.