Elliot James Writer - Journalist - Performing Artist

Elliot James is a writer and journalist who’s professional work has centered around political science and cross-cultural relations, arts and lifestyle, and international affairs. In his free time Elliot enjoys reading and writing, playing with his cat and dogs, architecture and historic preservation, the culinary arts, and horseback riding. Elliot currently resides in the state of Georgia.
  • (Main Photo) Hay House. Macon, Georgia

Southern Architecture and Design.

Decor in the American South is often quite regional when compared to other types of interior design. Floral arrangement by Canaan Marshall.
An early autumn day comes to an end, featuring the Woodruff House. Macon, Georgia
Twilight glances one last time on the Walter F. George School of Law. Mercer University
The interior mezzanine level of the Grand Opera House in downtown Macon, Georgia.
November, Hay House prepares for its final Fall wedding after a busy and productive season.
The Bonnybrae-Bedgood house, a 1839 Greek revival mansion on Georgia Avenue, is well under restoration after being listed as one of Macon's Fading Five last year.
Christmas at the Palace of the South: Holiday decorations have arrived at the Hay House.
  • (Main Photo) The Gazebo at the Woodruff House.
Photo Essay.
By Elliot James

Donna Ashmore has be living in the quaint southern town of Macon, Georgia over the past 20 years. She was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to French and Italian parents. It is her Philly charm and firecracker persona that can light up a room. Her boisterous laugh. - Now that is infectious.

Donna is a friend of mine. And, what I love about Donna is her vivacity and love for life. I have heard quite a bit about her career overseas and she always tells me, "the foreign service is for you." - The foreign service. Travel abroad. Delta Airlines. That is Donna in a nutshell.

Although I have known Donna for about the last year and a half, there is so much I do not know about her. It is my intrigue of her life as a international woman that brings me to tell her story. The story of Delta Donna. The woman who gave 18 years of her life working for the federal government and another 14 years to Delta Airlines, the company who has allowed her to continue her travels today.

Donna counts on her fingers and talks with her hands making sure no detail of her life abroad is missed. After the death of her mother and divorcing her husband the same year, she wanted to get out. She applied for the foreign service under the US State Department and was willing to go anywhere. After an eight month security clearance Donna was on her way to London, England. "[The placement officer] called me back and said I have a present for you... You're going to London."

"I wanted to go anywhere, but here." - Donna Ashmore

After a tour of her home to look at souvenirs bought in England and Egypt, Donna paused in the kitchen to talk some more. This is where she tells me about her previous husband and death of her mother for the first time.

This was all "B-T" as Donna calls it. Before Tom. Thomas Sebastian is her life partner. They have been together since meeting in Cairo, Egypt in 1982.

In that moment, she said that all this has allowed her to meet Tom. Her greatest reward.

After completing her first two-year tour in London, Donna was placed in Cairo. She loved this more than working in London. It was so different from what she knew. There is where she met Tom, who was sent to work in Egypt on behalf of the US Navy. After completing their terms Tom and Donna headed back to England for another tour of service. Tom would continue with the Navy and Donna took a job with the Department of the Air Force.

Donna sits here going down "Memory Lane" as she calls it showing pictures of the small village they lived at in the Cotswolds, England. Their 15th century cottage was once the Old Post Office.

Donna sits on her bed proudly showing her Department of State badge which she still keeps in her wallet today. After raising her badge up for a photograph, Donna turns to the side of her bed and quietly takes a long moment to look at herself before putting it away.

After Donna returned to the States from another two years in England, she and Tom moved to Warner Robins, Georgia to work at the air force base. It was not like where she had been working before and the couple would soon move to Dayton, Ohio with Tom's work. There is where she began working for Delta out of Cincinnati.

Donna sits on her couch in the front room laughing because her friend and former co-worker, Tom Holton, did not think she would get the job she wanted with Delta Airlines. She was hired on the spot. Donna still remembers her employment date, May 28, 1991.

After five years in Ohio, Donna and Tom would return to Georgia. She would take a job with Delta working in international group sales in Atlanta, commuting from Macon five days a week.

Donna retired at 54-years-old with an early out package, after 14 years of service with the company.

"My salary and flight benefits keeps us in travel and booze." - Donna Ashmore to her partner Tom, on retiring from Delta.

Once retired from Delta, Donna said, "That's it. I never worked again... I don't want to work anymore."

The next day Donna and Tom are headed to Atlanta for a Christmas party to celebrate the holidays with Donna's former Delta co-workers. Donna is in charge of the Cracker Barrel hash brown casserole. She explodes in laughter after having forgot about the hash browns frozen in the freezer and throws them in a sink of hot water.

"They're partiers!" - Donna Ashmore on Delta people.

Now, Donna's international experience did not begin with her time in the foreign service or with Delta, but with her family. Her grandmother, Victorine Bechaz (far right) was from Chamonix-Mont-Blac in the French Apls. She wanted to be a dressmaker and study in Paris, but because of World War I, she was sent to the United States to be with her brother.

Donna's grandmother would eventually become employed at the Wanamaker's department store in Philidelphia and met Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt (middle). Vanderbilt took a liking to Bechaz and hired her because they both spoke French. There Bechaz would make the turbans for Sabu, the Elephant Boy, and his porcelain dolls (lower left).

Donna takes a pause as she reads family recollections about her grandmother. "She was never happy here," Donna said.

After 32 years of working in international affairs and travel, Donna said she has no regrets.

"I was happy to take Delta, I was happy to leave Delta," she said.

"It's just been a fun life." - Donna Ashmore

NEWS and FEATURE PHOTO

McDuffie Center for Strings students play in an empty Fickling Hall in preparation for their upcoming concert for the Townsend School of Music.
Congressman John Lewis came to talk to community members at the Tattnall Square Park Peace Fountain in Macon, Georgia while campaigning for Hilary Clinton. He is the last person alive to have spoke with Martin Luther King, Jr. at the "I have a Dream" march on Washington D.C.
Light fixtures bring cheer to downtown city streets in Macon, Georgia. Making the historic district a fun holiday place for the community.
Christmas decorations are on display in downtown Macon, Georgia. Next year, the city plans to have synchronized lights to music on Poplar Street.
A rare sight to the non-agriculturist, the beauty of chicks hatching at the Georgia National Fair.
Cure Mercer had a rewarding Cure Goes Gatsby event this year with good turnout. This annual event raises funds for child surgeries in Niger, Africa.
Veteran's Day was extra patriotic on Mercer University's campus since the new addition of the pedestrian bridge.
Ampersand Arts Guild offers studio space for guild members. Their main hall is open free and to the public until 9pm most nights.
Ampersand also has an art supply shop and cafe for all visitors to enjoy.
  • (Main Photo) Turkey being cooked over a smokey grill at the Georgia National Fair in October.
Mini Photo story feat. on instagram: "Showline Bovine"

The cow barn during the Georgia National Fair in Perry is an often well visited attraction, even at night.

(upper left) As the cattle bed down for the night, they remain well aware of their evening spectators. Quiet and relaxed, they intrigue many who pass through the breezeway of the barn. (upper right) Although the night is well underway, some of the admired showstoppers do not seem to want to go to sleep, like this young cow who only moments before was busy mooing. (lower left) Aside from the opportunity to get some shut-eye, the last hours of the fair allow these bovine beauties to eat one last time before morning. (lower left) Many owners take this restful time to bathe and primp their cows before the events of the weekend take place. Many hoping for a blue ribbon.

Sports and Sports Action

Ice Hockey

Although somewhat of a new addition to Macon, Georgia, the Macon Mayhem ice hockey team has a loyal and supportive fan base.
The Evansville Thunderbolts come prepared with a competitive defense during Sunday's game.
The Macon Centerplex ice hockey arena seems like an out-of-town experience for those who have not yet had the opportunity to visit.
Dennis Sicard, right wing, is welcomed off the ice by supportive fans in between periods on Saturday. - Macon Telegraph
After an exhausting game, players raise their sticks in celebration of a 5-2 win against the Evansville Thunderbolts. This victory earned Macon Mayhem first place in the league. - Macon Telegraph
  • (Main Photo) Macon Mayhem vs. Evansville Thunderbolts Nov. 06, 2016.
After a busy football season, here is a pre-season look at Five Star Stadium at Mercer University back in August.

Football

Mercer's first game of the SOCON season showed angsty fans eagerly hoping for a win from the Bears.
Nature and the Seasons.
(left) Today, nature is showing remnants of fall as winter fast approaches. (right) A beautiful mid-autumn day at sunset in downtown Macon, Georgia.

Portraiture and Environmental Photography.

(upper left) Studio Portraiture: Sophie Peel. (upper right) Window Light: Donna Ashmore. (middle right) Environmental Photography: Francar's Buffalo Wings. (bottom) Studio Portraiture: Sophie Peel.

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.