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Harris Blackwood: In awe of the state's Capitol
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In my real job, I work in a building complex that includes the state Capitol building. This time of year, 180 House members and 56 senators gather for the 40-day session of the General Assembly.

People come from all across Georgia to visit our beautiful Capitol. This column is about them.

If you like people watching, this may be one of the best places in the country to do that.

Some people wear their Sunday best and make an obligatory visit to the beauty parlor before venturing to Atlanta.

Some folks who are in the twilight of life have never been inside their Capitol. I love to see their sense of awe.

Equally special are the eyes of children. Little kids who visit the Capitol are amazed by the sheer size of the place. But the things they remember most are on the fourth floor. That’s where our current state museum exists. The exhibits are about voting, the civil rights struggle and the time when three men all believed they were governor.

But the things children remember most are the stuffed two-headed calf and the nearby two-headed snake. The snake, incidentally, is preserved in acrylic.

I have sometimes thought how much fun it would be to have a live two-headed snake at the Capitol, but that might not work out too well.

If you are 8 or 80, it might be good to do a little pre-visit study about the Capitol. I base this on things I hear people say while they are here.

Here are a few examples:

Where is the president’s office?

Well, this is the state Capitol and the president of the United States would be in Washington, D.C. On top of that, the president is not at the U.S. Capitol. His office is at the White House.

Who is that? I’ve seen him on TV.

I have heard people say this about our governor, lieutenant governor and other officials. It might be a good idea to look online or in a brochure and know your governor. If you are a teacher, it would be worth a little computer show pointing out the key state leaders.

Selfie with a stranger

A student walked up to me and said, “Hey, I’ve seen you on the news. Can I get a selfie with you?”

For those of you without a smart phone, a selfie is a self-made picture of yourself and another person or two. After I posed with the student for a picture, he asked my favorite question, “Who are you anyway?”

If you are going to ask someone who he or she is, it is very helpful when you ask him or her if they are a living person. I have seen people asked if they were President Reagan, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or even Bruce Lee, the martial arts actor. Being mistaken for a person no longer with us is sometimes a little awkward.

And here is a question I’m always surprised by.

“How much does it cost to get in?”

This is your Capitol and it is absolutely free. It is the people’s house and I hope you get to see it soon.

But even if you don’t follow my suggestions, come on down and visit our statehouse. It is a place of colorful characters and an even more colorful history.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on gainesvilletimes.com/harris.

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