By Joellen Artz, Columnist
Last week we were lucky to have two of our four grandchildren visit us but as cabin fever set in we really had a hard time thinking of activities that 10 and 12 year old boys would enjoy as it was raining and quite chilly.
They certainly would have enjoyed the dirt bike trails or walking trails at Hard Labor Creek State Park but the weather made this out of the question as was the skate board ramp at the new Rec Park in Rutledge. These boys normally turn to Grandpa, who lets them ride the tractor but he would have none of that.
So I turned to the best resource I could think of and made a trip to our Welcome Center in Madison where Rhonda Spence quickly made some wonderful suggestions about places to take the kids on a cold rainy day. She had a plethora of ideas but because of the miserable conditions we had to pare down her list.
Home I went, loaded up the boys and my son, and returned to Madison. Our first stop was the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center where we toured a small museum-like display about the Piedmont region of Georgia and read information about cotton, Indians, carpet baggers, the Civil War, printing and lady’s apparel of the 1800’s.
Then we moved upstairs to what appeared to be an 1895 classroom in an old school house with McGuffey Readers on each of the old fashioned wooden student desks. Both exclaimed that they preferred their modern schoolrooms with electronic equipment. Neither found the upstairs art exhibits to be interesting, as one might expect, but they were fascinated by the old auditorium on the first floor to the back of the building.
And then they really got excited about the Cotton Gin outside the auditorium, especially since they see so much cotton growing around Rutledge. At Rhonda’s suggestion I treated them to lunch at the old soda fountain inside Madison Drugs. They enjoyed the grilled cheese, fries and milkshake but couldn’t grasp the concept of a small restaurant in the middle of a drug store. I told them times used to be simpler than they are now and explained how some drug stores had marble counters where you sat on chrome swivel stools and watched your ice cream sundae be created by a “soda jerk”.
That garnered some chuckles. To end our explorations, we went to the Morgan County Courthouse where a Deputy Sheriff allowed us to enter the old and majestic upstairs courtroom. I looked around in awe, imagining Gregory Peck portraying Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. This courtroom was built in a grand scale with beautiful dark wood trim throughout and stamped metal tile ceilings.
The juror’s box faces the witness stand which is entered by walking up a few carpeted steps. The attorneys and the defendants sit on long benches at massive tables facing the judge and the audience is separated by a wall behind the legal teams. I thought it was interesting that the sitting area for the audience is on a slope like in a movie theater but the part that intrigued me most was the massive balcony that allowed those upstairs to look down on the entire proceedings.
Thank you so much, Rhonda, for the suggestion to see this gem. I would love to know what movies have been filmed here. With wet feet, cold hands and additional knowledge in our heads we hopped in my warm car and headed back to Rutledge. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if over time there were more places in Rutledge where we could entertain family and friends? At least we didn’t have to leave Morgan County.