Mobile to Biloxi, Mississippi, 83 Miles
"Formal education will make you a living; self education will make you a fortune."
Perhaps I need to have higher expectations; because Bellingrath Gardens and Home once again exceeded them. We anticipated going through another mansion and a few planter beds, hop on the scooter and blast off into Mississippi. But the place was a treat. Even though winter still hangs on, flowers bloomed in beds, along huge lawns, over rock walls and around water features.
Walter Bellingrath was in the telecommunications business in the beginning of the twentieth century. That is, he was a telegraph operator. He found another business venture and took a chance, buying a distributorship and starting a bottling company for a new drink, something called Coca Cola. Why he didn't invest in Diet Pepsi, I'll never know, but the stuff took off, and he and his brother built a huge enterprise.
They hadn't invented the word workaholic yet, but his doctor told him he needed to lighten up and smell the flowers, and so why not buy that property by the Fowl River and make a relaxing place? Wow, did the guy take his advice. Gorgeous gardens grace the estate, some of Asian design, another with a reflective lake, and in a classic case of placing the cart before the horse, he built a fine home afterwards.
The house wasn't huge, but really well appointed. As soon as we got inside I clicked off a shot before the docent told me, "No pictures." I apologized. Forgiveness rather than permission, right?
Because this house was built later than most of the other mansions we've toured, it featured electric lights (installed a bit later) central heat and functional bathrooms. And a pretty nice kitchen too, the wood stove replaced with a gas one and electric too. And two dishwashers, a front load and top load.
Bessie Bellingrath collected porcelain, silver and crystal. The furniture and appointments were stellar. She also did a stroke of business; negotiated with the City of Mobile to remove their flagstone sidewalks and replace them with concrete. She used the flagstone for their paths. Clever girl. Another nice feature is the Coke bottles on display,and Mr. Bellingrath also kept a telegraph key near on his desk to remind him of his humble roots.
The Bellingraths left no children, so they established a foundation that not only manages the estate, but also supports two churches and three Christian colleges.
We left far later than anticipated with dark clouds looming ominously. However they dropped a few spatters of rain and the afternoon cleared with our friend Mr. Sun making an appearance and warming us.
Guess where we ate tonight? Oh yeah, barbecue. Hog Heaven stayed true to their name (although I had a pulled chicken platter and QG enjoyed a French dip sandwich) and hooked us up. Danielle moved the food in and out, a delicious meal of meat, cole slaw and potato salad. Danielle warned me about the hot barbecue sauce. Oh, yes it was hot. Perfect. Blues music, kitchy decor, it was all there.
And now, satisfied and warm, Quilter Girl!
We took 90 all the way to Biloxi, hoping to tour Jefferson Davis' home today. However, we took so long touring Bellingrath, we just found a motel across the street from the Gulf. Bilioxi is interesting, with lots of empty spaces where you would expect businesses or houses. We speculated that some things just never got rebuilt after Katrina or? We didn't check out the casinos as if you've seen one, you've seen them all. Tomorrow we will tour Jefferson Davis' home and head for Jackson.