Every Presidents Day, I remember a trip my husband and I took several years ago to the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, Georgia. We expected to see lots of western art that day, and we did, but we eventually wandered into a room full of presidential keepsakes and mementoes. Wow!
The Carolyn and James Millar Presidential Gallery showcases an unbelievable collection of authentic, one-page, signed letters from each president alongside portraits (many by Yousuf Karsh) and interesting pieces of presidential memorabilia. We spent a lot of time in that room reading each letter and thinking about each presidential relic.
In Project Keepsake's introduction, I mention watching a television special years ago featuring the president and first lady touring a reporter around the White House. They paused in each room and pointed to a vase, a piece of furniture, a painting, and other keepsakes and relayed the history of each object to viewers—where the item came from, what year it was added to the White House collection, its significance, and how it became a part of America’s historical fabric. The stories behind the pieces drew me in.
And the following day, I surveyed my own home and realized that so many of my possessions had stories behind them. I started writing about my keepsakes and telling their stories, and so Project Keepsake was born.
If you haven't visited the Booth Western Art Museum, you should. Browse the pieces in their immense western-themed art collection, take a stroll through the presidential gallery, and take a look at the keepsakes on display. You won't be disappointed. And while you are in Cartersville, indulge yourself at the Appalachian Grill next door.
My friend, David Aft, gave me a Christmas gift a few weeks ago that is presidential in nature and destined to stay in my keepsake collection for many years to come. My close friends and family members know how much I love and admire Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter. David gave me a sheet of old Carter campaign postcards and a Carter-Mondale campaign button. I hung the postcards in a very prominent place next to my desk. They make me smile. Thank you, David, for giving me my very own pieces of presidential memorabilia.