A March 2002 trip
to Savannah by Armed With Passport
Quote: Savannah is wonderful year round for anyone interested in its unique squares, quirky residents, and Georgian homes, but Saint Patrick's Day takes the cake. From eating green-colored grits at Clary's to the raucous party down by the river, you will have a Saint Patrick's Day that you will always remember.
Restaurant | "Clary's"
I read about Clary's in some on-line restaurant reviews of Savannah and I hadn't read anything bad about it. I was reading "The Book" while in Savannah and I had already come across the part where the author dines next to the eccentric Luther Driggers. Driggers is a bit of a mad scientist-type, who carries around a bottle of poison, that if poured in the town water supply would kill the populace of Savannah. Luther also fastens houseflies to strands of string and tapes the other end to his lapel, so that he may walk around with his flies on leashes as if they were dogs. The clientele of Clary's is always concerned with Driggers' mental well-being because they want to know whether it is safe to drink the water at night (i.e., if Driggers is upset, he might poison the water).
We when entered Clary's, the soda counter was the first thing I noticed. It has a bar with a long mirror, malt machines and a soda fountain.
We opted for a table in a side annex to the original building. In this room are the two famous pieces of glass art in the restaurant: One is a colorful stained glass sign saying "Clary's" and the other is a stained glass depiction of "The Book" icon, "The Bird Girl".
We sat to a meal of malted waffles, biscuits and gravy, ham biscuits, and my favorite, green-colored grits. They were stained green for Saint Patrick's only for the weekend. The food was good; I enjoyed the waffles and the ham biscuit.
Better than the food is the selection of drinks that you can get from the soda counter. Itwill seem as if you have traveled back in time and are having a malted at Al's with Ralph Mouth, Potzie, the Fonz, and Richie Cunningham. I ordered a vanilla coke and Toni ordered a chocolate phosphate. They were both delicious.
The service was poor in terms of taking your order, busing the tables, and keeping everything spotless, but you generally get what you pay for. The wait staff, when they actually find their way to your table, are truly apologetic and very hospitable, even charming, so you don't really care that you may have been already been sitting there ready to eat the napkins from the dispenser in desperate hunger.
You can get all kinds of "The Book" souvenirs at the register where you pay on the way out. All the wait staff model the famous "Bird Girl" t-shirts, so you can get a good look if this is something that you are interested in buying.
This place is only open for breakfast and lunch - no dinner.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 11, 2002
404 Abercorn St
Savannah, Georgia 31401
Restaurant | "Huey's on the River"
We put our name on the list and then had an enjoyable walk along River Street, going into the candy shops and Christmans stores along the way. We came back twenty minutes later, just in time to hear our name called out by the hostess.
We sat in a not particularly memorable dining room, aside from our wonderful Savannah River and River Street pedestrian view. The room was decorated in the traditional Mardi Gras colors: green, gold, and purple. Upon opening the menu, we were immediately comforted by some old favorites from the bayou. We ordered some beignets with powdered sugar to start, a fried oyster po'boy (seafood sandwich in toasted baguette), red beans and rice, and, our favorite, shrimp and grits. Everything was excellent and the service was fine.
The restaurant serves breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. Sometimes they hire live music and they have happy hours. The restaurant is linked to the River Street Inn. Expect long waits on weekends at all times.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 5, 2002
115 East River St
Savannah, Georgia 31401
+1 912 234 7385
The dining rooms are painted in traditional Savannah colors that harken bark to a former time; prussian blue, teaberry red, a deep yellow, and, my favorite, an eggplant color referred to locally as "Savannah Black." Most of the rooms have fireplaces bruning (at least in March).
The wait staff is relaxed, but attentive and willing to list of some impressive specials at the drop of a hat. The wine list impresses; all price ranges and a good choice of varietals are available. The food is very good; we ordered many appetizers in order to create a "tasting menu" since everything sounded so good. We had Caesar salad with corn bread oysters, she-crab soup laced with sherry, artichoke fritters stuffed with goat cheese, sauteed local shrimp with country ham and grits cake, pan-seared sea scallops with wild greens, fried brie with green apple and red pepper sauce, and cornbread and biscuits. For dessert we had a flourless chocolate cake with raspberry puree.
Feel free to explore the house. I went upstairs and found a dumbwaiter built into the wall modeled after the one in Jefferson's Monticello. Downstairs is a wonderful tavern complete with singing piano player.
This is a romantic place, so order wine, sample a chocolately dessert, linger, and head down to the tavern afterwords for some live jazz. Cap off the night with a late-night stroll out to Reynolds Square.
The Olde Pink House
23 Abercorn St
Savannah, Georgia 31401
The first strange thing to note about Monterey Square is the monument in the middle. Based on the name of the square you would expect the monument to honor a hero from the famous Mexican War battle. It is actually a memorial to a Polish aristocrat and officer in the American Army, Cashmir Pulaski, who died in the Siege of Savannah by the British in 1779. He was the highest ranking officer in Washington's army to die in the Revolutionary War.
While it is only slightly odd that there would be a monument to a man from Poland adorning a square in a southern city in the United States, I find it very odd that they didn't put the monument of the eastern European officer in another square in Savannah. Pulaski Square, only two diagonal blocks away and named after the same Polish Count, contains no monument or statue.
Quirkiest of all, is the late Savannahian, Jim Williams, who lived in Mercer House in Monterey Square. Williams is immortalized in the non-fiction classic, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. It was in Mercer House that Danny Hansford, a local ne'er-do-well, was killed by Jim Williams; a court later acquitted Williams of first degree murder. Williams was a nouveau-riche, homosexual rare antiques dealer, who threw Savannah's most infamous holiday party every Christmas. He would evaluate what kind of person you were and how you treated him during the calendar year when deciding whether to put you on the invited list or not.
Monterey Square has been used often for television and movie scenes. During the filming of one movie, Williams asked the producer of the movie if he would make a donation to charity in light of the inconvenience that the movie set was causing to the residents of the square. The producer said no. In retaliation for this snubbing by a Hollywood outsider, Williams decided to get his revenge by sabotaging the set of this Nineteenth Century "period movie". He pulled an antique Nazi flag from his vintage World War II artifacts and hung it out over his veranda, ruining all shots of the square with is display of a hated symbol from the 1930's and 1940's.
While this sabotaged the movie temporarily, it also outraged the nearby Congregation Mickve Israel, the third oldest synagogue in the United States. Williams reluctantly took down the flag and mended fences with his neighbor.
Bull Street & Gordon Street
Savannah, Georgia 31401
A statue of James Oglethorpe stands proudly in the middle of the square and surveys the city that he founded. Oglethorpe not only founded Savannah, but came up with an urban planning scheme that incorporated twenty-four green squares among the city streets. The statue was created by the famous Daniel Chester French (also created Lincoln Memorial); Oglethorpe stands with hand on sword facing south toward Florida. It is said that this was done to show Oglethorpe protecting Georgia from the then Spanish occupants of Florida.
The square is featured in the movie, "Forrest Gump." It is on a bench set in the square next to the street that Forrest speaks to the other people at the bus stop. He sits knock-kneed in his beige suit and blue shirt (buttoned at the top) and he has a box of chocolates resting on his lap. The bench was removed immediately after filming, although tourists, like me, still search for it.
Nearby is the Savannah Theater, which has been around since 1818, although it has been remodeled. It has a long vertical sign that signs "SAVANNAH" on it. When I was there they had a midnight showing of the cult classic anti-drug movie, "Reefer Madness."
Also nearby is the Savannah courthouse, the Juliette Gordon Low birthplace (founder of Girl Scouts), and a pretty Presbyterian Church.
Chippewa Square is named after the Battle of Chippewa in the War of 1812.
Bull Street & McDonough Street
Savannah, Georgia 31401
Attraction | ""The Book" Gift Shop"
Other bits of merchandise are as follows:
"The Book," Unsigned $24.00
"The Book," Signed by the Author $28.50
Bird Girl Ceramic Coasters. (Set of 4 in Green or Blue) $26.95
"Mercer House" T-Shirts $22.99
Exclusive: "Bird Girl" White T-Shirts $18.99
"Bird Girl" Charm: Silver or Gold $24.99 or $98.00
28" statue of Bird Girl - Licensed and Copyrighted Replica $250.00
Emma Kelly, Lady of "Six Thousand Songs": Compact Disc $28.95
The shop hours are Monday through Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Sunday 12:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 5, 2002
Book - Gift Shop
127 East Gordon Street
Savannah, Georgia 31401
Inside you have a wonderful array of all types of pralines, bear-claws, fudge, taffy, and other assorted varieties of candy. They have an old fashioned taffy machine that stretches the gooey candy on mechanical arms and then feeds it into a machine where it is cut and subsequently wrapped. If you wait at the end of this assembly line you will be rewarded with a piece of taffy (or two)(or three).
The company was started in 1973 in Savannah and now has a branch shop in Charleston, South Carolina (I've been there, too; also very good). They have a catalog and an web site where you can order sinful treats on-line. The address is www.riverstreetsweets.com.
River Street Sweets
13 East River Street
Savannah, Georgia 31401
Attraction | "The Waving Girl"
As the officer did not come back, Florence was overcome with grief and began waving at all passing ships in the hopes that her handsome fiancee would be on the boat. As the months and years passed, the tale had spread amongst sailors all over the world, who knew the story and recognized the neckerchief and the greeting.
Florence became a sailor legend. She kept going through this ritual for many years, 44 in fact, waving a lantern at night and bringing along a little collie to keep her company.
After 44 years of love-lorn behavior, Florence died in a hospital in 1943. The citizens of Savannah erected the Waving Girl statue of Florence Martus to honor the woman who stood by her man for all those years (even when he never returned) with a statue on the Savannah waterfront.
Florence Martus - The Waving Girl
River Street on the east end
Savannah, Georgia 31401
Attraction | "Telfair Museum of Art"
Sylvia Shaw Judson's sublime "Bird-Girl" statue is on permanent loan to the Telfair Museum. It was removed from the Bonaventure Cemetery to maintain some peace for the gravesites that surrounded it; tourists began to trample through the cemetery in search of it after John Berendt's book became a best-seller. The statue of a girl holding two bowls in each hand filled with azaleas is featured on the dust-jacket of the book. It does not play any role in the real-life events that occurred in the book. It was selected for the cover because it looks like the girl is holding the scales of justice, weighing good versus evil in final judgment.
The Telfair contains many interesting and important American paintings. The "American Impressionists", Childe Hassam, Frederick Frieseke, and Gari Melchers, are represented, as are the "Ash Can Realists", such as Robert Henri, George Bellows and George Luks. A beautiful winter landscape by George Bellows called "Snow Capped River" is one of the museum's highlights.
Admission is eight dollars for adults, seven dollars for seniors and AAA, two dollars for students, one dollar for children six to twelve, and free for those under six. Group discounts are available.
The hours for the museum vary from day to day. It is open on Sunday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Tuesday through Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Docent-lead tours are offered every day at 2 p.m.
121 Barnard Street
Savannah, Georgia 31401
Attraction | "Marco"
We bought some retro-looking postcards as well as some regular ones. We also purchased some cool reproduced black and white photos from Savannah. One was a panorama of Broughton Street from back in the 1950's and the other is a vintage shot of the beach at Tybee Island, filled with sun-bathers from the 1950's.
The store clerk was very nice and we talked to him a while about what it is like living in Savannah.
Marco has an on-line web site where you can order teak furniture and other items.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 6, 2002
Marco Polo Imports
430 William Hilton Parkway
Hilton Head, South Carolina 29926
Attraction | "Saint Patrick's Day Parade and Festival"
The parade is simply a lot of fun. It has a unique quality of being fun for families as well as serious beer-drinking partiers. The old Savannahians really come out and are proud of their event. Men and women in emerald green blazers are the parade organizers; I believe it is this support from the landed elite that really makes the parade a success. Floats, high school bands, military regiments, and corporate sponsors all come out for this parade that seems to never end.
There is a wonderful tradition for young women to put on lots of lipstick and plant kisses on the faces of the military men as they pass by. It is pretty humorous to see a fifteen year old military school kid try to keep a stoic face as a ruby-lipped college girl plops a smacker on his cheek. All the men and boys marching have lip prints on their cheeks as they stride through historic Savannah.
The best places to watch the parade seem to be Calhoun Square and the Judges' Stand at the end on Bull Street near the DeSoto Hilton. It seems like locals go to Calhoun Square and claim their spots early with lawn chairs and beer coolers. We stayed at the DeSoto Hilton, which was a nice Hilton property, but it was more important for being right next to the Judges' Stand. The Hilton also serves breakfast to go and beers to go from its front steps and has easy bathroom access in one of its conference rooms. (Trust me, this is crucial).
The serious drinkers skip the parade and spend the whole day on River Street, which is cordoned off for the celebration. Only by passing through a strict security and ID checkpoint are you allowed down to this area. You still need to go through here even if you don't drink. Having a beer in the River Street area without a wristband will get you a fine.
The mood on River Street is quite festive, to use an understatement; however, it does not get out of control like in New Orleans. Flashing is not a tradition here and the police will take care of you pretty quickly if you do. There are live bands at the east end of River Street and all restaurants and bars serve beer from takeout windows in "go-cups".
I was not so interested in River Street. We went instead to O'Connell's and Malone's. Both are great places to go for Guinness or whiskey. The crowd at both was pretty young.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 7, 2002
St. Patrick's Day Parade and Celebration
Abercorn, Bull And Bay Streets
912 644 6401
This entry is continued from Part VII.
I washed up and then decided I needed a good shower and clothes change. After this, we decided to go out for dinner and drinks. I called the Crystal Beer Parlor (highly recommended by many Internet sites), but the number I had was not in use. There was also no listing in the yellow pages, leading me to believe that the restaurant had been shut down. We decided to walk over to its address and see if it was operational; if not, we would go to a restaurant on River Street (Huey's or the Shrimp Factory).
Unfortunately our fears were realized as the Crystal Beer Parlor was closed without any explanation. We headed toward the Savannah River down Barnard Street passing through Orleans and Telfair Squares. We went to the City MArket area, but saw no restaurants we were interested in, only a Banana Republic, a Gap, and some closed pottery and furnishing stores. (Note: We will shop tomorrow).
At Bay Street the bar and dance club scene was hopping. We skipped this, of course (we're old!), and went down to get to the zoned-off "party area". The line was about a mile long and uncuttable even though our plan was not to drink in the street, but instead to go into a restaurant. So we went back up.
We walked further down Bay Street, which was packed with, well, let's not candy-coat it, a bunch of drunks. Seven years ago I would have loved it, but now it just made me feel out of touch a bit.
We found a shorter, cuttable line to get down to the River Street zoned-off area. It took ten minutes or so, but we made it to the security tent, where they made us show ID and empty our pockets.
We weaved through the throngs on the cobblestone. There were many bars and restaurants selling beer in go-cups out of their doors. Green (how appropriate) port-a-potties were everywhere with lines six deep. Food vendors sold funnel cakes, hot dogs, and sausage sandwiches from trucks. Everywhere people were having good-natured drunk fun. I saw no flashing of unmentionable body parts.
We were too far down for Huey's, so we got on the list at The Shrimp Factory. The greeter put a sticker with the number "59" on it onto Toni's sweater. I thought it was funny that they labelled the potential customers with stick-on numbers. I laughed and went to get beers.
I had a meaningless discussion with some guy at the bar. He could barely focus when he spoke to me. He told me that he and his friend had been waiting to get a beer for twenty minutes. He finally got his drinks and said to the bartender, "They was next," and pointed to me.
I had to laugh because this guy was referring to me in the plural. Either I'm really fat or he was seeing double. The bartender and I laughed and I ordered some Moon River Ales (named after the Johnny Mercer song).
After a bit, we were seated and met by an affable young waiter who called us "y'all". We ordered more beer, some boiled shrimp, caesar salads (tossed and dressed at the table with croutons) and some pecan-crushed flounder.
We ate sourdough bread with cheese spread or butter while we waited for the rest of the food. The food, when it came, was pretty average, but luckily for me I was hungry.
We headed east down River Street after dinner and escaped to the less crowded old town by climbing some steep and narrow steps. We went south on Broad Street, the west on York, through Green Square and Columbia Square. We then headed south on Abercorn until we linked with Liberty and our hotel.
Now it is time to rest. Tommorrow we will take some good morning pictures (Gordon House, Low House, Forrest Gump's bench in Chippewa Square, Olde Pink House during the day, and River Street minus the beer and urine. We also plan to shop. It is possible that we will go to Huey's for lunch and then to the candy store for bearclaws and pralines. Until tomorrow. . .
I am on the concierge level of the Desoto Hilton drinking a Sprite that I found in an unlocked cupboard. The concierge area is pretty spartan as these things go - no drinks (except for the hidden ones), no food, no concierge even. In fact, the only reason we are here now is so that we can watch the NCAA tournament games in peace before our flight.
Pitt is leading Cal 26 to 25 late in the first half so I am relatively happy. Toni is on a loveseat reading a business magazine. I am at a table obviously writing this journal and keeping an eye on the game.
Our day began (or at least mine did) at around 9:00 a.m. I was really sore from my walk and extremely tired from reading "The Book" last night until 2:00 a.m. I felt better after a shower.
We packed our stuff into our luggage and then went to the lobby to check out. We checked our bags with the bell captain so that we wouldn't have to worry about them during the day. I went to the second floor to take some pictures of the pool area; it had two fish fountains gushing water. It took me forever to get back down to the lobby; all of the elevators were chick full of people and bags leaving today. The stairs, I knew, only led to a fire escape. Finally, I crammed into an elevator and went the one floor down to find an exasperated wife.
We walked out down Bull Street toward the river. We took a photo of the Scottish Church, the Juliette Gordon Low House, Chippewa Square (with Forrest's bench, sort of) and a green fountain. We also took a picture of the famous old movie theater with the large "Savannah" sign; the movie playing that night was "Reefer Madness".
We turned at Bay Street and saw Washington's cannons from Yorktown, the plaque honoring the Savannah, the first transatlantic steammer, the Cotton Factors with their footbridges and cobblestone lanes, and another plaque to memorialize Eli Whitney, the inventor of the cotton gin.
We were hungry and it was about 11:30 a.m. so we headed to Huey's and put our names in the waiting list. We had twenty-five minutes to wait, so we walked down River Street east. We popped in and out of some shops and bought pralines and gophers(or bear claws). The one candy store had a big taffy machine from the 1920's. It was spewing out banana taffy. They gave us samples of the taffy and samples of the pralines.
We continued along into various specialty shops. T-shirt vendors were selling bad-looking shirts for $5 (you get what you pay for). I took some pictures of the River and Talmadge Bridge. We turned back toward Huey's.
As we approached, the greeter was calling out, "Robertson, for two!" I knew that must be us and I was happy for our impeccable timing.
We went inside where the decor was green, gold, and purple (like Mardi Gras). We ordered a plate of beignets, a fried oyster po'boy (no mayo), red beans and rice, and shrimp and grits.
The beignets came first; they were light and fluffy and covered in powdered sugar. After the beignets came the other food, all of which was very good, especially the shrimp and grits.
I took some photos and we left satiated. We dodged into some more shops and then Toni sat while I set out to find the "Waving Girl", a statue of a woman and her dog who greeted ships. It took me a while but after walking a couple blocks east, I found her in a little brick square. She was wearing green beads for Saint Patrick's Day. I took some photos and the photo of a couple from Chicago.
I scampered back to Toni, who was beginning to worry about me. We headed west into a Christmas shop and got some Savannah ornaments. We then headed up onto Bay Street and went into an antique shop with three floors. We got four small framed Savannah pictures: Bonaventure Cemetery (the Bird Girl), Mercer House, Forsyth Park, and the Waving Girl. We also got an old Hofbrau House ceramic mug from Munich (we have always wanted one and we failed to get one when we were there in 1998). Toni got a neat beaded purse. We next headed to the City Market, a pedestrian area with shops and restaurants, to see if we could get a drink and watch some basketball. We headed by some places, but they were either packed or had no basketball on (NASCAR instead).
We went into an Irsih pub called Malone's. No place to sit. In desparation, we went into Tony Roma's, but it was crowded and not air-conditioned. We decided to head in the direction of our hotel.
On the way back we went into another store; it was called "Marco". It had some neat stuff like martini gear, old photos, colorful pillows, and Savannah memorabilia. We chatted with the sales clerk, who was from Erie, PA. We bought some Savannah postcards, some photos of Broughton Street and the beach.
On the way up Bull Street, I took a picture of the Old Chatham County Courthouse, a relevant setting in "The Book". We kept going until we got to MacDonough's, a dirty pub that had the basketball games on. We ordered sweet tea and water and a plate of really tasty wings and waited for the Pitt-Cal game to start.
A gaggle of obnoxious folks came in and, of course, sat near us. They were starting to get loud and annoying, so we finished and headed to the hotel.
At the hotel, we established that we couldn't watch the game in "The Red Lion" (the hotel bar). It was at this moment of despair that I remembered that I still had the concierge level key in my wallet, so we headed up and turned on the television in the concierge room and relaxed.
Now we are waiting to leave at around 5:00 p.m., after the game finishes. Toni repacked the stuff we bought and went down to the gift shop and bought Mrs. Wilkes Cookbook and the Junior League of Savannah Cookbook.
Well, that's it. I will try to reconnect with some summary thoughts after we get back to Alexandria (home). I can say now that it has been a great trip and we are thinking seriously of moving down here.
After we knew that the Pitt basketball team was going to be victorious over Cal, Toni and I grabbed our two pieces of luggage, black carry-on bag, and a large breen plastic bag containg our Savannah prints.
We went out to the taxi queue only to find to our horror that there were no taxis. Apparently, most taxi cab drivers cash it in after a hectic Friday and Saturday. Toni had to go back in and have the hotel find a cab; they said it should take fifteen minutes, but it could take as long as forty-five. I took a picture of the Desoto Hilton as we waited fo rour cab. A man from Singapore who was backpacking around North America and also waiting for a cab (but to the Amtrak Station) spoke with us. He had worked for Andersen Consulting back in 1976. We talked about places to visit in China.
An ugly powder blue taxi pulled up and we climbed in. I went to put the luggage in the trunk, but couldn't open the trunk. In the process of trying to open the trunk I noticed that my hand was filthy with a black goo.
An amorphous blob appeared from the driver's seat; I couldn't tell if it was a man or a woman, but it moved at the speed of molassestoward the trunk. A key was produced and I threw our stuff in. A cab that appeared behind us claimed that we were its passengers, but I didn't feel like moving our stuff. We took off in the direction of the airport.
I asked about the price. The driver called in and the dispatcher told him to charge us $30, five more than posted. We complained and the driver said, "Don't blame the driver." I decided right there that there would be no tip.
We drove along I-16 to I-95 with the windows all wide open. My hair was sticking straight up.
The beautiful airport (seriously) had an upgraded lounge where we headed for the half hour or so that we had to wait. I read "The Book" and watched more basketball.
Our flight boarded quickly and on time. I sat next to a hungover Irsih rugby player. He kept asking for water and slept most of the time. Toni, who sat in the front of the plane, said someone was passing gas so much that the flight attendant gave the nearby victims wet naps to cover their noses with.
I read more of "The Book" (I'm between the third and fourth trials).
We landed safely and "de-planed" in the rarely used D terminal. We got our bags outside (it was raining and 38 degrees) and weaved through the terminal. The upside was that we didn't need to get on the people-movers.
The Purple Bus took us to the Purple Lot and we got into the foggy Honda. Now I am home on our couch, catching up with Sportscenter and finishing this journal.
With time to reflect, I will say that I loved Savannah. My favorite aspect is the use of the square in city planning. I'm thinking about writing an article on the Squares of Savannah. My favorites are Chippewa and, of course, Monterrey.
I loved the food and restaurants where we ate. The Olde Pink House was the best; very classy, but not stuffy. My favorite dish is shrimp and grits.
The Saint Patrick's Day Parade was fun, but I don't need to do it again. Seeing the old men in green blazers is the funniest part. There is really nothing very Irish about their celebration.
Toni and I decided that Savannah would be a great place to live if we weren't Yankees and if it weren't so hot. We still may go someday. . .
The most memorable moment was my journey through the poorer neighborhoods south and east of the historical district as I walked to the Bonaventure Cemetery. My feet still hurt and I'm bruised from hurdling over the fence to get in.
Interesting to note was all the residents not originally from Savannah. We really didn't get a feel for the old standbys who have been in Savannah for generations like some of the people in "The Book".
Speaking of "The Book" (which I'm about to pick up and finish soon), having a literary masterpiece of myth and reality to read when you are in an interesting city makes the trip all the more enjoyable. It is one of the most interesting books that I have ever read.
I forgot to mention that we saw that Lady Chablis was performing at Club One Jefferson in the northwestern part of the historical town. There was a marquee that read "Tonight - Lady Chablis - 6:00". Toni took some pictures of the club, the marquee, and a picture of a poster of Lady Chablis.
All in all, this was one of our best weekend getaways and a wonderful gift from Toni. We will definitely return and that is saying something as we tend to go to new places instead of places where we have already been.
My next entry will be a trip to Cape Cod for an extended family visit (my Dad's side) over Easter. We plan on sightseeing as much as we can.
TRIP TO SAVANNAH, GEORGIA
MARCH 15, 2002 around 2:00 p.m.
WASHINGTON, DC (actually ALEXANDRIA, VA, our home)
It is now almost two o'clock on Friday, March 15, 2002. Toni and I will be leaving on United Airlines from Dulles Airport to go to Savannah for Saint Patrick's Day. Despite already having conducted a preliminary research session, I am still not sure why Savannah is the place to go for the annual Irish Day of drinking. It is apparently a celebration of parades, Guinness, and drunks wearing green that can only be surpassed in magnitude by Chicago and New York. I'm curious to see if the Spring Break "hook-up and beer-bong" crowd shows up or if it is something akin to Mardi Gras in New Orleans (I think that there are similar wrought iron porches from which to wing plastic beads and proudly get naked).
I am mostly interested to see if the Saint Paddy's celebration will interfere with our intention to really see the city - its old planter's winter houses, its quaint squares (like the one Forrest Gump sat in with a box of chocolates in the movie), and its legendary restaurants, pubs, and live entertainment. I just hope someone doesn't spray paint the moss in the trees bright green.
We will arrive in Savannah tonight at about 6:30 p.m. and taxi our way to the Hilton (go Toni's Honor points!) From there we hope to walk to our restaurant, The Olde Pink House on Abercorn Street. It is apparently a bit fancy (as is anything that spells "old" with an "e"). It is set in a post-colonial Georgian planter's house (James Habersham) where the building material has made the interior and exterior pink. I look forward to some potentially fattening food and the potentially exhausting five-mile run I will have to do to get rid of those extra calories.
Adding to our weekend dilemma is the fact that the NCAA basketball tournament is happening this weekend and our alma mater, Pitt, is actually in the tournament after an extended absence. Assuming that they beat Central Connecticut today (very embarrassing if they don't), we will need to find some place that pours Guinness and will allow us to watch them on Sunday.
I have researched and assembled (as all great journalists do) a packet of info that I downloaded from the Internet. It gave information on how the parade route winds its way through town, the best place to watch, and where to drink. It seems as if you need to buy drinking bands (a la the typical frat party) which allow you to drink within a fenced-in area near the river. I am curious to see if this is a fun place to be or if the seclusion and lack of freedom make it less than desireable. I can't imagine underage college kids really stopped from drinking by this structured set-up.
My packet also includes the best restaurants, according to a couple of restaurant reviewing sites. I look forward to trying to get to many of them, but crowds, time, and the fact that after you have one heavy meal, you are sometimes not hungry for the rest of the day, all play against going to every great eating place.
I've downloaded a historic walking tour as well, but the parade and crowds may make this not as appealing as it sounds on paper. Besides, you sometimes get a better time out of just wandering around and looking instead of heading into every antique filled planter's winter home that you see. Interesting to note is that Juliette Gordon Low was born and lived here; she founded the Girl Scouts. Maybe I can score some cookies. . . (Just a thought, but don't the Girl Scouts sell a cookie called "Savannahs"? Hmmm. I never made the connection before.)
There is also a tour showing sights used in the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which is referred to in Savannah simply as "The Book". I am a big idiot for not taking the time to read "The Book" nor have I even seen the movie. I'm thinking about dashing out right now and getting it at the library and reading on the plane.
There is also a chance to take a boat tour down the Savannah River; we'll have to see if we are in the mood. After many Guinnesses sometimes you lose your enthusiasm for anything but drinking more Guinnesses and hanging out.
So there it is; I hope to have a great weekend and I hope to have a good story idea or two to write about when we get back.
Note: Do not hold it against the author for not attaching any photos to this journal excerpt; these are only my pre-trip thoughts. More photos will follow the other journal excerpts.
I'm sitting at the desk in our nicely appointed Hilton room located in the heart of historic Savannah. Roaming the halls are many green clad Hibernians and old women in feather boas (green, of course) toasting with beer-filled go-cups. I, myself, feel a bit of an alcohol buzz, but I will get into that later.
After finishing my last entry, I went and finished packing for this trip. I rounded up any suitable green shirt that I could find and quietly lamented the fact that I own no green pants. I also packed shorts as the forecast for the weekend called for temperatures in the eighties. As I threw insome paperbacks to read on the trip, I decided that I really needed to go to the library and get John Berendt's book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, in order to make this trip more memorable. I flew out the door (twice since I forgot my library card the first time) and scoured the Alexandria Library until I found "The Book". I was cutting it close, as our flight was to leave Dulles at 4:45 p.m., so I broke many traffic laws speeding the Honda back home.
Luckily Toni wasn't ready yet either. She was stuck on a conference call regarding her current project in San Francisco. I sat down and watched some basketball. I was happy to see that Pitt won its game; we will have to watch the game in Savannah on Sunday.
At 3:20 Toni and I bolted out the door and loaded the Honda woth our two suitcases. I speeded down I-495 and the Dulles Toll Road, careful not to get caught by the opportunistic road cops. We buzzed into the Purple Lot and sprinted to the Purple Bus.
At the United 1K ticketing area there was already a line ten deep. We were really worried about getting to our flight because there was also a long line to get through security and then we would have to get on a people mover.
After fifteen minutes in line we got to the counter, where the ticketing agent wouldn't give us a ticket because we were cutting it close to the departure time. We were told to go straight to the gate and pray that they hadn't given our tickets away.
The security line took fifteen more minutes and then the people mover took an extra ten. Toni sprinted out the door of the people mover at exactly 4:45 p.m. and rushed through the terminal like O.J. in those old Hertz commercials. I followed with the two suitcases.
We caught a break at the gate. The plane was late, of course. I've never been so glad that a plane was late. If we would have missed this flight, we wouldn't have made it as all the flights are sold out. The reason for the delay was that the plane needed new tires.
Toni got some food (Ranch One chicken and fries and a diet Coke for me) and I read my book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, as we waited at the gate. Toni got back on the cell phone for work.
Our gate attendant finally called us at 5:15 and we boarded the plane, checking our bags outside the gate. I switched seats with a husband and wife. I noticed that a lot of people on the plane wore green and beads and were a little drunk.
We took off at 5:40. Almost immediately everyone started to go back to the bathroom to go get rid of used beer, a sure sign that they were partying. I sat still, engrossed in the book. The flight went by quickly. We landed around 7:00 p.m. Before the plane stopped at the gate, our flight attendant, Calvin, told everyone in a public service announcement that they "should be safe this weekend and think with the head above their shoulders, not the little one below the belt. No means no." I thought his little "The More You Know" monologue was a little preachy and a bit tasteless, but most people thought it was funny.
Our gate-checked bags weren't waiting for us at the jetway; instead we had to go to the baggage claim. I noticed that the Savannah/Hilton Head Island Airport was about the nicest airport that I had ever seen. Very nice and absolutely spotless, even the toilets.
Our bags came soon enough. I had collected a bunch of pamphlets of tours, restaurants, pubs, museums, and historic places while waiting. We went out and got into a cab with Darril, an older, unintelligable man who took us to the Desoto Hilton.
He said that it would take about fifteen minutes and cost us $25. We zoomed onto I-95 and headed to Savannah. Daryl spoke with us in a friendly way, but I really couldn't understand much of what he was saying. His cab smelled like urinal cakes.
We pulled up to the Desoto Hilton on the corner of two moss-treed streets, Liberty and Bull. In front of the hotel were many cars and people with beads and green sport coats (Masters champions as I call them; Augusta is only 130 miles away). We checked in quickly and then languished in the elevator lobby forever just to get in a crowded car with some parade organizers.
Finally reaching the room, we found a comfortable space with a view of the pool. Fireworks were booming as we put our luggage away; you could see explosions of light outside.
Toni changed into some fancy clothes and freshened up for our reservations at the Olde Pink House at 8:30 p.m. I opened up the map and tried to figure out our route to the restaurant.
We left the room and waited ten minutes for an elevator, but none came. We finally took the stairs, but the stairs, for some inexplicable reason would only take us to the second floor (we strated on the tenth). We ended up taking the elevator anyway, traveling down with a chambermaid who couldn't wait to get off work.
After asking which direction was Abercorn street (I started the wrong way, but was smart enough to ask a bellboy), we walked two blocks east and then turned north when we met Abercorn. Traveling down Liberty was nice because the street has a median with grass, statues, and mossy trees. Abercorn was also nice; we passed the cemetery with big letters D.A.R. on the gate (Daughters of the American Revolution) where a guide was giving a ghost tour to a bunch of tourists.
Note: This is a continuation of my entry in my written journal. It picks up with my wife and I walking down Abercorn Street toward Oglethorpe Square and The Olde Pink House.
We carried on down Abercorn, walking by neat Gergian houses with wrought iron porches with beaded people drinking on them. Abercorn 23 was our final destination and it took us about fifteen minutes to get there. The Olde Pink House stood in all its pinkness at one of the corners of the beautiful Oglethorpe Square. We walked down the middle of the green square which was already full of tulips, daffodils, and blooming azaleas. A big statue of John Wesley, the founder of the Wesleyan sect and a Savannah resident, was smack in the middle of the square. All along the square were benches, like the one in "Forrest Gump". Was this where they filmed the movie? I need to research for tommorrow. (Note: The scene with Forrest Gump sitting with a box of chocolates and waiting for a bus was filmed in Chippewa Square. After they filmed the scene, they took away the bench).
We made a beeline to The Olde Pink House. It was illuminated by floodlights, so Toni took some photos of the building and the restaurant sign. We entered the restaurant at exactly 8:30 p.m. (perfectly on time!)
Upon entering, we were immediately impressed. The foyer had authentic thick plank wood for a floor and a huge door with a window pane arch over it. It was painted a pale yellow and had a painting of the home owner, James Habersham, next to the reception desk. We headed to a dining room with a roaring fireplace, beautiful chandelier, and paintings of unknown people on the wall. The walls were painted a pale green.
We sat in the half-empty room and pondered the wine list and menu. Our waiter, a college kid from Boulder, CO, suggested a relatively expensive wine from the list. I politely ordered something more reasonable (a sweet and buttery Chardonay, Chateau Ste. Michelle (Columbia Valley) for $30.
After significant negotiation and troubled forethought, Toni and I decided to have soup and salad and then share four different appetizers. Toni chose to order a Caesar Salad with Crisp Corn Bread Oysters. I ordered the She-crab Soup laced with Sherry.
For our four appetizers, we ordered Artichoke Fritters Stuffed with Goat Cheese, Sauteed Local Shrimp with Country Ham and Grits Cake, Pan-Seared Sea Scallops with Wild Greens, and Fried Bried with Green Apple and Red Peeper Sauce. Everything was very good, especially the She-crab Soup (which our waiter added sherry to at the table), the Caesar Salad with Oysters, and the Scallops.
We lingered over dinner and took pictures of the interesting-looking dishes. I also took a photo of some cornbread and biscuit that was brought out before our food. I took some photos of the room we were in; the paintings, the fireplace, and the chandelier added to the romantic setting.
We ordered some "no-flour" chocolate cake with raspberry puree. It was pretty good (tasted like fudge), but really filled us up. I then took off and snapped photos in the adjacent rooms of the restaurant. Most had fireplaces and paintings. They were painted ina lipstick red, prussian blue, eggplant (or "Savannah black",as they call it here) and yellow. One room had walls of exposed brick.
Another room had a dumb-waiter modeled after the one Jefferson had in Monticello, according to a waitress. Some of these rooms were upstairs where there was a beautiful view of Oglethorpe Square. Through the open window upstairs one could see the American flag and a Union Jack that the restaurant hung from poles on the building's facade.
I took a copy of the menu and whatever else I could get my hands on. The best surprise of the evening, however, was the old style tavern room downstairs. It was all wood and brick with cosy chairs. Smoke and bourbon filled the air as a piano player sang some jazzy tunes. We wanted to stay, but could not find a chair. We'll have to try to come back.
We walked out of the restaurant and into Oglethorpe Square. Toni took a good shot of some azaleas that were lit up by the square. Instead of going straight back to the Desoto Hilton, we headed down to the Savannah River, walking north on Abercorn Street.
Revellers increased in quanity and drunkeness as we headed toward where the Budweiser was flowing unfettered. The River Street walk was under us (we were on Bay Street, the commercial area connected by some interesting footbridges and byways). The drinkers were all in an "ID-controlled" area full of cobblestones (making for some interesting walking when really drunk). Toni snapped a photo of the fiesta with a large U.S. Coast Guard ship as a backdrop.
We headed down Bay Street toward the City Hall, which was illuminated in green for the occasion. We made fun of some of the drunk partiers (some were real pieces of work with big green Dr. Seuss hats and "deely-bobbers"). We turned south onto Whitaker Street to go back to the Hilton.
I wanted a Guinness before going to bed, so we headed into an Irish pub named O'Connel's. The bouncer didn't card us, so we knew that the place was full of young people. I struggled through some masses to get a Guinness. It was, of course, worth the effort. Tullamore Dew (an Irish whiskey) was giving away shots of whiskey, so I had one of those too. The pub was fun with lots of Irish stuff, but no available seats. I finished the beer and we headed home by way of Perry Street, then Bull Street.
I am now in the hotel watching a promotional tourist program on what Savannah has to offer. I plan on getting up with the sun tommorrow to take as many photos as I can before the parade starts. I'm looking to go to Monterrey Square, Mercer House, Armstrong House, the Savannah Bridge (Talmadge Bridge), the Bonaventure Cemetery, Clary's, and Forrest Gump's bench.
I also want to find out the best place to watch the parade. We may visit the tourist center some time tomorrow as well. For lunch (or whenever the parade ends), we may go to Mrs. Wilkes, Huey's, or Clary's to eat.
As for now, I'm going to read more of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. I hope to get to page 200 before I fall asleep. Until tomorrow. . .
Oh, before I sign out for the night, I need to speak about the beads. I forced Toni to get some green beads to wear tommorrow. We got them from a hard-faced, chain-smoking, truck-driver of a woman who had a rolling cart full of "official" beads. The beads she had were in the shape of hemp leaves, shamrocks, and Confederate flags. We just got some regular green beads.
I woke to a groggy, but excited, start this morning at 7:30 a.m. I was up reading to the halfway point in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. The planned "wake up early and take photos of stuff before everybody else comes out" plan was cancelled because I was very tired this morning and the bed felt so good. Nonetheless, I am awake now and fully dressed in a green "Bahama" shirt with khaki shorts and sneakers. (Note: My wife hates my shirt). Give me a beer!
Toni and I are watching countless number of cars being towed from the street behind the hotel. Frantic and possibly hungover residents are running out of their houses with bedhead to save their cars from the tow truck. Nearby on the street is a gaggle of old men in green blazers (Masters jackets) collecting to discuss parade strategy.
We are ready for the day and wherever it may take us. Now for the complimentary breakfast. . .
No such luck with the upgraded breakfast or breakfast at all for that matter. The Honors Lounge was empty. What the Honors lounge did have was a great view of the north part of the city. I took a picture of the big church (First Baptist) on Bull and a panorama of the Talmadge Bridge, which spans the Savannah River.
We went down the elevator, which suprisingly came quickly after we called it. Toni had a bit of stomach trouble and a headache, so we went to the gift shop for Advil and Maalox in the travel size. We also got Toni a kitschy green shamrock pin that sends out a blinking light and some postcards (including pictures of Jim Williams with his cat and John Berendt with Lady Chablis).
Toni staked out a spot in front of the final judging grandstand on Bull and Liberty (where I currently sit on the curb). We sat on some newspaper (the Savannah Morning News) so that we wouldn't get dirty. What we didn't figure was that the ink was going to show up on the seats of our pants. I currently have front page headlines on my hindquarters.
In the Hilton lobby the hotel was kind enough to serve Killian's and food. I scored a sausage biscuit for Toni and two Killian's in the Irish tradition of starting the day with an a.m. ale. We sat on our curb and watched the people start to claim their viewing spots with lawn chairs and seat cushions. Some people were lucky enough to get elevated seats at the parade headquarters, located above Charlotte's Corner, a gift shop across the street.
The parade wasn't to start until 10:15 a.m. up at Forsythe Park. It wouldn't hit our area until an hour and a half later. Being as it still wasn't 9:00 a.m. yet, I took the camera and began a photography tour. The first square was Madison Suare, complete with a statue, mossy trees, red azaleas, and beautiful houses. I snapped many shots.
I continued up Bull, going past General Sherman's headquarters when he occupied Savannah. Next I went into Monterrey Square, famous from "The Book" and took photos of Mercer House and the Synagogue. I took some interior garden shots of a house that a man passing by said was for sale for $1.3 million. I would have guessed $3 million.
I crossed Gaston Street (remember Jim Williams' comment about living NOG, or North of Gaston?) and into Forsythe Park. There, I found a huge fountain where the water was stained green and shooting out of swans and men with trumpets. I shot a picture of some "Miss Scarlets" dressed in Southern ladies costumes. They were accompanied by a Confederate soldier. I also got a shot of a regiment of Marines in front of the fountain. I continued on into the staging area for the parade where the Irish dancers, bagpipers, military regiments, and other folks in green jackets were assembling.
In the staging area also contained a bevy of tanks and helicopters and hum-vees. I proceeded down Drayton Street and over to Calhoun Square, named after the famous politician from South Carolina, where everyone was assembled in their chairs and tents drinking and socializing. I took a picture of a man with many pins on his jacket and suit.
I went down toward Layfayette Square, which was also madness; it was hard to find space to walk. I came across "The Book" gift shop and the famous drugstore counter, Clary's. After that I went to the Colonial Cemetery to take photos, but my camera ran out of battery.
I hustled back to our spot because I had been gone over an hour. I turned on Oglethorpe heading west and went past the Juliette Gordon Low birthplace (the Girl Scout founder) and the large James Oglethorpe statue.
Finally I linked up with Toni, who had consumed the rest of my beer. I went into the hotel for a refill, to use the toilet, and to get a new camera battery.
Now I am sitting back on the curb with a fresh Killian's and this journal. The parade should come through in a couple of minutes.
I'm back in the Hilton at my desk, writing what has happened earlier this day. Toni is lying on the bed, watching the local news coverage of the parade and thr River Street revelry.
After I signed off this morning, the parade began to come by around 11:30 a.m. It started with old men in green jackets coming into the podium area. Then, with much pomp and circumstance, the Grand Marshall arrived. He came in a big beige Chevrolet El Dorado; he was a relatively old and large man. The judges followed him, all clad in green and sat in the chairs on the stage facing us.
Following this procession, we saw the following:
Miss Irish Eyes
Local Senator, Congressmen, the Mayor, Aldermen, and the former Grand Marshalls
Every high school band within a reasonable distance
Ancient Hibernians (playing pipes)
Sinn Fein (no Gerry Adams)
The Savannah Morning News (a float of comic strip characters)
Civil War reinactors
A West Point float with locals playing famous generals, e.g., Norman Swartzkopf, Robert E. Lee, U.S. Grant, and Douglas MacArthur, who came complete with a corn cob pipe)
All the Armed Forces
Floats from Coke, Seaworld, Arby's, Kroger's, Piggly Wiggly, Cingular, and Sprint
And countless other things that I forgot.
The funniest thing is a custom wherein young women put on lots of lipstick and kiss the military men. Rows and rows of stoic, stone-faced warriors kept eyes-forward as the women planted lipstick prints on their cheeks. Not one soldier went by without having lipstick on their face.
After a couple of hours, a couple of beers, and a couple of bruises on our backsides, the parade ended. We bid adieu to our curb mates and headed for lunch at around quarter after two.
We headed up through Madison Square and onto Bull Street. We took a left onto West Jones Street and headed toward Mrs. Wilkes House, a famous family style eatery. There is no sign at 107 West Jones, but a sign on the door said "closed". (We later learned that this establishment is open Monday through Friday for lunch only).
So instead we headed east down Jones Street, looking at houses and wondering how much they were worth and what was for sale. Finally we came upon Clary's at the corner of Jones and Abercorn. This place is famous as the pharmacy-cum-diner where John Berendt meets Luther Driggers, the eccentric genius, who is too anxious to eat.
We went into Clary's and immediately fell into a storm of college kids. After some confusion, we were led to a corner table and then ignored, despite our extreme hunger. We looked at the menu and saw why so many young people were there; the prices were low.
After fifteen minutes, a waitress showed up, apologized and took our order. We got drinks first. A chocolate phosphate for Toni and a Vanilla Cola for me. These drinks were both whipped up at the famous old-fashioned soda fountain and bar. We ordered food as well: grits with butter and cheese; french fries; malted waffles; a ham biscuit; and biscuits in gravy.
The food came relatively quickly. We were happy to see that the grits were green as is the tradition here on Saint Patrick's Day. We scarfed up the food; it was typical southern comfort food.
As we waited for the bill, I took pictures of the soda fountain, the stained glass Clary's sign, and the stained glass picture on the cover of "The Book" (you know, the one with the "Bird Girl"). We took the bill up (only $15) and paid the cashier as is the custom. They push "The Book" merchandise pretty hard at the cashier, especially t-shirts which all the staff wear.
From here we walked off our meal, heading up to Forsythe Park. We sat on a bench next to the Confederate Memorial fountain which was spurting green water. We took in our surroundings: Kids on skates, a man folding palm fonds into flowers, and fields of azaleas in purple, red, white, and fuchsia.
After a while we headed back toward the hotel down Bull Street. Before getting to Monterrey Square, I took a picture of Armstrong House as mentioned in "The Book".
Attraction | "My journal notes - Part VII - Walk to Bonaventure Cemetery"
MARCH 16, 2002
SATURDAY NIGHT 11:15 p.m.
We continued on Bull, then through Madison Square. It was here that Toni and I decided to part ways. She went into a Christmas shop to get a Savannah X-mas ornament and then she was going to rest in the room. I decided to embark on a monumental journey.
I was going to see the "Bird Girl" in the Bonaventure Cemetery. In "The Book" it said that it was only three or four miles away.
"The Book" never said what the cemetery was three of four miles away from. This walk/run took forever and left me exhausted.
I decided to go to the Visitor's Center and see if I could figure out how to get there. All I had was a lousy Savannah promotional guide that showed the cemetery as a red dot southeast of the city. The visitor center was located at MLK, Jr. Drive and Liberty at the western end of the historic district. As I waited at a pedestrian crossing that was taking over five minutes at MLK, Jr. Drive I decided that I would just turn around and head into the general direction of the cemetery and ask from there.
I headed due south on Montgomery Street. As I walked I noticed the old town charm leaving, an absence of tourists, and broken down or boarded up Victorian homes badly in need of paint. I wasn't scared, but I definitely wasn't comfortable.
I headed south still more and picked a relatively safe street with lots of traffic to walk down. I forget the name. Still more dilapidated poverty. The funny thing was that these houses were structurally stunning and had a lot of potential.
I walked for what seemed like forty minutes east, going down the most commercial and trafficked streets. I crossed some railroad tracks at 37th Street.
From there I spoke with a large black lady who asked me if the "food prices was expensive down by the river." I told her they were charging a little more for Saint Patrick's Day. She said, "That's it, were going to Golden Corral." I said, "Good luck," and kept walking.
Feeling that I overshot the cemetery to the south, I headed north a bit. I retrieved a loose ball from a pick up basketball game on a run-down hoop in someone's driveway.
I saw a road that looked like a good through route so I took it. It was a residential, but poor neighborhood. Some kids said, "Happy Saint Patrick's Day" to me when they saw my green clothes and beads and I said, "Same to you." The kids then got into a fight as to whether today was Saint Patrick's Day or not. I told them that it was actually tommorrow.
I kept on, finally finding an elderly white man watering his azaleas. He gave me some unintelligible directions, but pointed me in the right direction. I was heading toward an underpass as it said on my rudimentary map.
Next thing I knew I was lost in the cul-de-sacs and roundabouts of a posh community. The streets ceased to run in blocks so I knew I was in trouble. However, I was lucky enough to run into a cheery postman (actually postwoman) who gave me perfect directions. That was the good news. The bad news was that I still was about a mile and a half away.
I began to jog as it was getting to be late. It was about 5:15.
I got out of the community and headed south onto Pennsylvania Road. After fifteen minutes, I found Bonaventure Street. So I must be near, right?
Wrong. This street twisted through a little residential area. Around every bend, I anticipated a cemetery, but only found more road. After fifteen more minutes I was there.
The Bonaventure Cemetery. Closed after five. It was 5:30.
I had come too far to be denied now. I walked down a side road for about a half mile, came to a secluded spot and shimmy-ed over the five foot chicken wire. I landed right next to a head stone. Cool.
As the light was fading quickly and my return trip had some mugging potential, I moved quickly around mausoleums, statues of Mary and Jesus, azaleas, and mossy trees. It really was beautiful.
I walked along the sandy trail toward the Wilmington River. It was low tide and a motorboat buzzed by creating a large wake. I knew that near here the Nobel prize winning poet Conrad Aiken was buried next to his parents.
By chance, I happened upon the Aiken family plot. I took a picture of the bench and its epitaph. Nearby was his slain mother's and suicidal father's double gravestone.
I ran into a mother and daughter who were still in the cemetery. They had parked a car in a lot near the river; there must be some alternative entrance from the back that stayed open. They were from Cecil County near Havre de Grace, Maryland. The woman said that the "Bird-Girl" had been moved to somewhere in South Dakota because visitors were ruining the grave site. I was crestfallen because I really wanted a twilight picture. I believed the woman and was grateful that she told me because I would have searched that cemetery forever looking for the "Bird-Girl". It seems a shame that its gone and odd that it wasn't put in a Savannah Museum. (Note: The woman was only half right; the statue wasn't in the Cemetery. It was donated to the Telfair Museum located in Savannah).
I walked around and snapped photos of interesting head stones. I knew it would be dark before I found the Stranger's Tomb (where you were put if you die and are from out of town) and Johnny Mercer's tomb. I practically ran back toward the fence and catapulted over. The grounds keeper had closed the access road gate as well, so I had to tramp through a soggy forest to get back to Bonaventure Street.
I was exhausted and felt worse because I knew of the long walk ahead. A dog nearly bit me (I'm not exaggerating) on Bonaventure Street. I was going to be forced to defend myself by kicking it as hard I could in the snout, but it turned away at the last moment as I quickly escaped.
I took a more direct and safe route home. It took me exactly an hour and twenty minutes to get home. I opened the door in the room and collapsed in the desk chair where I am sitting now.
330 Bonaventure Road
Savannah, Georgia 31404
Through the help and goodwill of a local Yammacraw chief named Tomo-chi-chi, the first Savannahians lived in peace and prosperity. Oglethorpe was able to develop trade and quickly went about planning the urban structure of his fledgling city.
Oglethorpe stuck to a traditional idea - the grid pattern - but added his own original twist - the inclusion of twenty-four shaded and green squares place symmetrically throught the city blocks. While this design is aesthetically pleasing, historians have since learned that this street and block scheme was developed to protect Savannah from enemy attack. The blocks were separate and defensible units of land.
Oglethorpe made the grand plan, but only was able to build six squares during his time (Johnson, Wright, Telfair, Ellis, Reynolds and Oglethorpe). Three squares have been demolished for "urban development" (Ellis, Liberty, and Franklin), although Franklin Square has since been restored.
From their inception by Oglethorpe to the present time, each square has acted like a scrap of historical fabric that, when all sewn together, have made a colorful patchwork quilt that is Savannah's urban history.
Monterey Square is the most talked about square in town. It contains Mercer House, famous from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Jim Williams killed Danny Hansford here back in the 1980's. Fans of the book fill the square to view this Italianate house, usually ignoring the monument to Cashimir Pulaski, the highest-ranking officer in Washington's army to die in the Revolutionary War, and Congregation Mckve Israel, the oldest synagogue in the South. The square is named after the Battle of Monterey in the Mexican War.
Madison Square is named after the fourth president, James Madison. At the center is a monument to Sargeant William Jasper, who was killed in the British Siege of Savannah, along with Pulaski. At one end of the square in the Green-Meldrim House, where General William Tecumseh Sherman stayed when Savannah capitulated to Union forces wihtout a fight in 1864, thus saving lives and historical buildings.
Chippewa Square was named for a battle in Canada against the British in the War of 1812. Oglethorpe's statute, designed by Daniel Chester French, is featured in the center of the square. Scene from Forrest Gump were filmed on a temporary bench place next to the street. The Chatham County Courthouse and the old Savannah Theater are also located on the square.
Wright Square is named after Georgia's last colonial Governor, Sir James Wright. The monument in the center is to former mayor and president of the Central Railroad of Georgia, William Gordon. Gordon is the grandfather of Girl Scout founder and Savannah native, Juliette Gordon Low. Yammacraw chief Tomo-chi-chi, who helped Oglethorpe and the 120 passengers of the "Anne", was buried in a corner of the square in 1739; Oglethorpe was a pall-bearer.
Johnson Square, named after the colonial Governor of South Carolina, Robert Johnson, was the first of Oglethorpe's squares. In the middle is the grave of Revolutionary War hero Nathaniel Greene who had a Savannah River plantation; fellow revolutionary Marquis de Lafayette laid the cornerstone to the memorial on a visit in 1825. Today the square is known as the financial center of Savannah (seven banks) and a place to buy watercolors from art vendors on the sidewalk.
Ellis Square, named after the second colonial governor, Henry Ellis, is a reminder of what the consequences are to senseless urban development. The square was turned into an ugly parking garage in the 1950's. The Ellis Square used to contain Savannah's City Market.
Telfair Square was re-named in 1883 after a prominent family that lived on the square (it was formerly St. James Square, named after the one in London). The square is most famous for the Telfair Museum, containing the statue that became Savannah's icon, the "Bird-Girl" from the dust-cover of the book.
Orleans Square is named after Andrew Jackson's famous 1815 victory over the British in New Orleans during the War of 1812. (Why isn't it New Orleans Square?) It contains a fountain given to the city by a German heritage organization in Savannah in 1989. Nearby is the modern Savannah Civic Center and the lovely Champion-McAlpin-Fowlkes House.
Pulaski Square is named after freedom mercenary Count Cashimir Pulaski from Poland. Pulaski has a monument in Monterey Square and a fort on one of the nearby sea islands named after him. The square is known for the tall and old oaks providing shade and green moss for passers-by to rest under.
Chatham Square is named for the Earl of Chatham, William Pitt, and was laid out in 1847. It has a modern playgound in the middle of it. On the square is the brilliant yellow Barnard Hall (now Pepe Hall), recently renovated by the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD). The building site was a hospital for General Sherman's troops during the Civil War and now is host to art and architectural history classes from the school.
Franklin Square is named after a famous Philadelphian famous for flying a kite and a key during a thunderstorm. Benjamin Franklin was actually an agent for the colony of Georgia when in London. It was originally called "Water Tank" Square; I can see why they didn't stick with this. On the square is the First African Baptist Church, possibly the oldest black church in North America and an important link in the Underground Railroad.
Armed With Passport
Miromar Lakes, Florida