MARCH 16, 2002
SATURDAY NIGHT 11:15 p.m.
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".