Happy 156th Birthday Martha

Friday

This weekend we made our first overnight trip anywhere since Covid started. It was Mountain Day at Berry College. This is a celebration of Martha Berry’s birthday, homecoming and parents’ weekend. Mountain Day started in 1914 when Miss Berry mentioned that she hadn’t had a birthday celebration since she was 16, sometime in the 1880s. She decided it was high time she had one and canceled classes and work on her birthday, Oct. 7. The students of what was then Boys Industrial School and Martha Berry School for Girls hiked the four miles up to the Mountain Campus where they enjoyed games and a 32-pound cake. I wonder if anyone has a photo of that cake. And it grew into an annual event (although now classes stop at 2 p.m.) over the years and is celebrated the weekend closest to October 7.  It really should have been next weekend but I’m guessing the football team has an away game. Mountain Day is just Saturday but there is a weekend full of activities.

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The second Buc-ees in Georgia recently opened and conveniently it is about 20 miles from Berry so we had to make a stop. Katy has been out a couple of times for their barbecue sandwiches and some students have made it a regular Friday hang-out place.

Heath made it a point to wear a Texas Buc-ees tshirt and two employees commented on it. I wanted to get a photo of him with something that said Georgia but I couldn’t find anything. And the one picture I did get didn’t really turn out.

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One thing about Buc-ees in Texas is it has a huge selection of Texas souvenirs with a few generic gift items thrown in. Everything from fridge magnets to outdoor grills, including Texas-shaped waffle makers that I’m always tempted by. So if you need a Texas gift for someone, Buc-ees is your place. Texas lends itself to souvenirs. I have a hard time finding anything Georgia related so I was wondering what Buc-ees might have. This is it. All of it.

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They had a huge gift area with lots of nice stuff but just generic home decor and the like.

They did, however, have lots of Texas-style barbecue sandwiches and there was a long line for them. They’re popular in Texas but I never see a big crowd lining up for them like we did here since you can get Texas barbecue other places. I don’t know if it’s because it’s new in Calhoun or if it’s because it’s the only place you can get a sandwich like that.

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Look at all those sandwiches lined up!

We got some kolache for breakfast the next morning, something else you can’t get in Georgia, and some snacks and t-shirts and headed out.

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Heath fixing up his cup of coffee and a view of some of the store. It’s one of the bigger stores and for a Buc-ees, wasn’t terribly crowded. We managed to get out for under $50.

We checked into the hotel and went to a little gift shop right across the street that Katy likes and recommended we visit. Picked up some tourist maps and looked at some informational and historical markers. Found out that Rome was once The Stove Capital as they made lots of stoves, heaters and other metal items. Also saw a real cotton gin. It was huge!. Then we drove to campus and got their just in time to catch the end of Mountain Day Olympics. Classes end at 2 p.m. Friday of Mountain Day Weekend so the festivities may begin.

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Welcome to Mountain Day! I clearly need to clean my car windshield.

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View of the Olympics. Katy’s in there somewhere. We watched a relay race and the tug of war finals. Katy’s dorm team didn’t win anything but it was fun and she got another t-shirt out of it.

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Emma and Katy following the games.

Between the Olympics and the games we had time for Katy to show us around the new animal science building (which doesn’t really have a name) and MacAllister, the physical science building. Between three science classes each with a lab and her job as a lab assistant that’s where she spends most of her time.

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Front of the building. It’s attached to MacAllister so you can easily go from one to the other down a short hallway.

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One the way in Katy pointed out that instead of downspouts the building has rain chains.

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There are several nice study areas. Katy was checking out the organic chemistry calculations someone had written on the white board.

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That sounds interesting. Heath noticed the tables in the lab had holes in them. That would be for drainage.

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Skeleton of a horse. Katy says she has a quiz on it Monday.

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Some type of lab. Katy said the labs echo really badly because of the industrial-type ceilings.

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Several nice lecture rooms. Heath said they weren’t anywhere near as big as the ones at the big state school he went to but they really are nice.

We then crossed over to Mac. We had toured it when we first visited the school and it’s your standard science building with classrooms and labs but nothing as fancy as in the animal building. It’s not that old, either, having been built in 2001.

One neat thing Mac has is this little hallway museum.

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It just has a few exhibits but they’re really neat. Lots of animal skulls, a cross-section of a really old tree from campus and

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Birds of prey that are found on the Berry campus. The 26,000-acre campus has not only lots of space but a protected wildlife preserve so there is lots of wildlife. Katy’s biggest concern is the off-campus wildlife. A fox has been hanging around the school’s chicken coops across the highway.

And there is a pendulum which is pretty neat.

The theme for the weekend was something about space Katy wanted to show us how the student center was decorated so we walked over there. They students did a great job.

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And they made Martha Berry into an astronaut!

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So that was it for campus. We had dinner with Katy and said goodnight.

For all the deer that Berry has we rarely see any Well, we got Katy back to campus at dusk and they were everywhere. As this sign warns you:

There are bikes, deer and pedestrians everywhere.

Katy wanted to check out the Marthapalooza set up for Saturday night so we did that.

We drove by the cabins and the RV sites. They’re open this year and it looked like all nine hook ups were being used. This is one of the cottages. I’m not sure how many cottages there are. Two are guest housing and the rest are student specialty housing. They hold up to 16 people depending on size and certainly make for a different type of residential college experience.

And we walked around Barnwell Chapel. Usually the chapels are open but Saturday a campus police officer said they are closed except for special events as the school is short about 20 housekeepers. With the largest freshman class ever this year and the largest in years last year there really shouldn’t be any empty jobs. The 24-hour prayer room in Barnwell is open and we looked in it.

There was a program scheduled at the observatory at 10 p.m. and Heath and Katy had planned to go but then canceled. The next day was going to be a long day and Katy managed to catch a cold, the first time she’s been sick since middle school and the next day was going to be long. So it was an early lights out for everyone.

Saturday

Mountain Day always includes a breakfast for the parents of first-year students (freshmen and transfers) with a presentation by the the dean of students, I believe. I think the president attend.. Last year campus was closed to the public all year long so Mountain Day was students only with some online events for alumni. They didn’t think to have a virtual first-year breakfast for parents so we could at least hear some of the information. So a sophomore parent decided to host an unofficial breakfast for sophomore parents and anyway who wanted to show up. The dean of students worked with her in identifying a tent that was already set up and providing some tables and chairs. Several parents indicated they were interested and would attend. So Renee, the organizer, and her husband bought lots of food and set up a grill. I brought some paper items. There were eight of us and only that many because a couple that hadn’t heard about it wandered by and stayed. Renee and I told both our girls to come by there was lots of food so they did.  I felt bad there was no better turn out but we enjoyed visiting. Katy took about 60 of the mini muffins I made back to the dorm!

So Saturday started with a small but fun breakfast at 8 a.m.

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Renee brought her long-haired dachshund and Katy didn’t want to put her down.

After that things got hectic. Katy had just come off of taking care of the chickens and had to go back to the dorm to take off her dirty boots.

There were several events going on up on Mountain Campus, a three-mile drive. I thought for sure they school would run shuttles up and down. Katy said there was one shuttle you had to sign up for in advance, I don’t remember seeing anything about that. With all the fields up there parking wasn’t a problem. Traffic was. Everything up there started at 11 and we were told traffic started backing up at 10. So we headed up a little after nine with no problem. We found a place to put our picnic blanket and waited. There was a barbecue lunch at 11 and Heath and Katy had tickets for that. I had brought my own lunch. Katy got there about 11 with the lunch tickets and the Marthapalooza shirt Katy bought for Heath.

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I guess I didn’t get a single good picture of Heath. And I never did get a picture of all three of us.

So we had lunch and lounged around. Katy ran into some friends.

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Jaz, Katelynn and Katy

There was also a small market going on selling items from the student enterprises and the bookstore had a booth with Berry swag. I bought a few things.

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It’s kind of hard to see but these are Berry-themed laser engraved cutting boards and they are really nice. I bought a candle and some lip balm from Berry’s Bees.

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At noon the Berry wind ensemble gave a concert. They were very good.

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This is where it got tricky for us. The Grand March started at 1. Katy couldn’t be in it because she had to head down to the main campus to set up for the Farmer’s Market that started at 2. Blue Hen Eggs had a booth selling eggs and t-shirts. Heath and I wanted to see the march. I wanted to be at the market at 2 so I could get some eggs. Then we had tickets for the House O’ Dreams tour at 3:45.

We watched some of the march. This started a few years after the first Mountain Day. Students dress according the school uniform in place at the time: senior girls in pastel blue, senior boys in white; underclass girls in pink and boys in light blue. The line up by class and gender at the top of a hill and march down. The first pass make a circle and each student drops pennies equal to their age in a basket (money goes to scholarships). They march back up then come back down in boy-girl pairs, then back up again and each pair joins with another pair for another walk down. They keep this up until they are 16 across. Then they meet at the bottom of the hill and sing the school song. We stayed through the pairs I think and then headed down the mountain.

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If the photographer wasn’t in the way you could see where they are dropping the pennies.

I got some video. There is a jump in the middle as I had to change batteries. I didn’t get them coming down in pairs. But needless to say this goes on for awhile. Some students do it just freshman year or just senior year, some every year, some not at all. Some don’t realize they have a choice! Katy did it last year and would have this year if it weren’t for the market. Coming down in pairs and more they hold hands but last year they held bandanas.

So after watching some of the march we beat the traffic down to main campus.

The market was really busy. They had a central check-out and the line was nearly as long as the line of tents. So we got eggs and a tshirt from Katy and Heath bought a brownie. There so many things. Those kids are so talented and the items they produce are nice as anything you’d get from any “professional” crafter at a craft fair.

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Katy and her friends selling eggs and shirts. They were busy. Besides eggs for food there was also cheese and beef from the Berry cows. They don’t sell milk as, according to Katy, the Berry cows produce milk with a really high fat content and it’s “not great to drink”. And they can’t make ice cream because apparently ice cream is the most regulated food on the market. Berry’s Bees sells honey but they didn’t have any at this time.

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Textile items. The scarfs were very nice.

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Chair from the furniture company. There were lots of a bird houses, too, but I think that might have been a different enterprise.

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Lots of vegetables and plants.

So after we checked out it was back up the mountain for our House O’ Dreams tour. We got there really early and probably could have spent more time at the market. Oh, well. We watched them take down from the earlier activities.

The house is really neat. I didn’t know much about it but it was something Heath really wanted to do. It’s usually only open by appointment and I’m not sure how often that is even possible.

We filled up two school buses for the four mile trip up the mountain. That’s four miles from Mountain Campus so it’s seven miles from the main campus. It’s also 1,360 feet above sea level. And that’s not four miles as the crow flies, this is a really twisty road. Not to mention bumpy! I didn’t think to ask when the road was put in, I don’t think it was until later. It’s a popular hike and we saw several people hoofing it up and down.

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Front of the house. I’m thinking the tree has grown over the years.

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View from the back. The house is on the edge of campus so all that you see there is Berry. If you click on the photo twice to enlarge it you can just make out the buildings. It was really hazy that day. You can also see Alabama and Tennessee from the other sides.

So like I said the house was built by students in 1922. That was six years before Berry became a junior college so these would have been younger students — not in their 20s. There was a volunteer giving information and answering questions. I didn’t get out of him how long it took or how many students. He did say since it was so far up the mountain they made all the pieces off-site and then hauled it all up for assembly and it went up really quickly, just a few days. it was supposed to be a surprise for Miss Berry but she found out. There was no way she wasn’t going to notice loads and loads of lumber, rock, other building materials and furniture being hauled up the mountain. But when they presented it to her she acted properly surprised. The students didn’t pay for it! Money came from Emily Vanderbilt — a close friend of Miss Berry — alumni and friends.

Onto the inside. All of the furniture is original (except for the conference tables and chairs upstairs). The curtains and upholstery are more recent reproductions but just like the originals they were made by students. The furniture was also built by students. The house was restored sometime in the ’80s. I did ask when electricity was put in. He said sometime just before WWII. There was electricity in the area, it just took it longer to get it up the mountain. There’s one wire going up and another older alumni on the tour said the wire followed the same route Martha would have taken on her pony. She didn’t know that first-hand, she’s not that old!

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Downstairs bedroom

Living room

Upstairs bedroom

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Built-in bookcase. You can’t see in the photos but the walls aren’t flat. There are wide boards alternating with narrower boards that stick out a little. Hard to explain but this was not a basic cabin. Some real workmanship went into it.

This was originally an attic and is now used as a conference room. You can see more of the wall detail here.

View of the gardens from the upstairs window. That’s Heath in the back. I didn’t know he was outside.

And onto the gardens. The garden were added later by Miss Berry. The front garden was designed by some famous person I’ve never heard of. The terraces were inspired by an Italian castle where another Berry daughter lived.

Fruit trees added by Miss Berry.

So after we looked around the house and gardens it was a bumpy ride back down. The bus Heath and I went up on had nice air shocks. This bus didn’t and we felt every bump!

We got back down to Mountain Campus a little after five. I texted Katy and she was just packing up from the market so we headed down there. It turns out they didn’t sell all their eggs. The check-out table was packing up but I asked if they could take another payment and I bought another dozen eggs.

Katy packed up and Heath and I headed back to the hotel to put the eggs in the room fridge.

Then it was off to dinner. I’d always wanted to eat at “the airplane” place. I never couldn’t remember the name of it. It’s Sam’s Burger Deli. Sam’s father was a WWII vet and all of the walls in the dining room are lined with photos of veterans who have eaten there. And the other half of this plane is in the restaurant.

After dinner we took Katy back to campus. We were through for the night but she has Marthapalooza at 10 p.m. We’d planned on breakfast Sunday morning but between Katy’s long day and her cold she decided she’d rather sleep in and that really was a good idea. She has a busy week ahead of her. So we said our goodbys. It was a fun weekend.

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