(AKA the day my Mom still hasn’t forgiven me for)
We were up bright and early again to start our walking tour of historic Savannah. Mom was anxious to get back to Polk’s Market so we each grabbed a banana from the hotel and then headed out to start our adventure for the day. As we walked along Liberty Street, we stumbled across a little old woman standing on her porch watching the commotion at the end of the block caused by some sort of special walk or run, or something community-driven. Anyway, traffic was at a standstill while all of these people walked towards town from the park area. Going back to the little old woman. She was just so darned cute! She was 90 years old and just loved to talk. According to her, she’s “the only black on the block” (her words, not mine) but everybody loves her, and she loves everybody and we’re all God’s children and ain’t none of us asked to be put on this Earth.” I really wished we’d gotten her name. I remember her mom’s name was Lucille because she told us a few stories about her Mama, Lucille, and how she loved Coca-Cola from the bottle. She invited us back to visit sometime, but we just never did. I sure wish we would have. I bet she had some great stories to tell. Just the history that she’s lived through would be so awesome to listen to.
Seven blocks later, we were at Polk’s Market. There, we indulged in samples (again) and Mom bought two of everything that had the Polk Market label on them. (I’m not kidding).
After Polk’s, it was time for lunch, so we walked the six blocks to Clary’s Café. We did have to put our names on a waiting list, but it was only for a short time ~ not even 15 minutes. The food, in a word, delicious! We really enjoyed this one. The prices were reasonable, and the atmosphere was just like any other Mom & Pop Café which was a plus in my book. Mom had the Hoppel Poppel (scrambled eggs with salami, potatoes, onions and green peppers served with grits and a bagel) and Coffee. My inner brat took over as soon as I saw a certain item on the menu ~ so I ordered it: Crab Cake Eggs Benedict and yes, I did take a picture and send it to my sister! However, what I forgot to take a picture of was the building itself. I was so disappointed when I got home to discover I’d done this. So, I downloaded a few pics off the internet. It’s not the same, but it is what it is.
Forsyth Park was only 4 blocks away, so we decided to go there to see the fountain before we started going to all the squares. Forsyth Park is beautiful. It is just green and lush and really is a must-see for anyone going to Savannah. The day we were there, the SCAD students were coloring the sidewalks. We didn’t spend a lot of time looking at the drawings because we pretty much just hung out in the fountain area and then were on our way. A note about the fountain: I’m not sure which story is accurate, but there are either 2 other fountains out there just like it (one in New York, one in Spain); or there are 4 other fountains out there just like it. I heard 2 different stories. In any case, the fountain was beautiful .
From Forsyth Park, we headed four blocks east on Gaston Street so that we could start our tour of the historic squares at Chatham Square. Like I said before, there are 21 squares in Savannah and we were (okay, so I was) intent on hitting all of them. My poor mother was just along for the exercise 🙂 Chatham Square was small and was, in fact, the last square erected in Savannah in 1847. From there, we headed west to Monterey Square. Across the street from this square is the Mercer-Williams House. Mom wanted to tour this house because of Johnny Mercer, although I don’t believe Johnny had ever even stepped foot in this house. It actually belonged to his great-grandfather, Hugh Mercer. Anyone who is familiar with the book (and movie) Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil will know this house ~ this is house where the story took place. I’ve never seen either ~ it’s just not my cuppa. The tour started in the carriage house, which is also where Jim Williams had his antique store. Of course, it did start raining right before it was time to go to the main house, but it was more like a light drizzle. Mom and I are tough Montana gals so we declined their gracious use of an umbrella. We walked through the garden to the stairs of the home, where our small group huddled together at the porch. The tour guide started by pointing to the columns of house, where climbing vines seemed to be everywhere. These turned out to be grape vines, which I believe she said were the only ones in the area. We then went inside the home to start our tour. Sadly, no pictures are allowed (even without the flash!) so I have no mementoes of the interior of the house. We toured through Jim Williams’ eclectic art collection at the entrance of the home, and then the rooms that were on the main floor. Evidently fire codes prevented us from going any further because there was only one stairway leading to the other floors. In any case, the library was part of the tour which was the room where the big event from the book took place. Again, still not a big fan of the whole Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil thing ~ but I did leave the tour with a tremendous amount of respect for Jim Williams. That man was responsible for saving over 50 homes in the historic district of Savannah and for that I am grateful. I fully believe in preserving our history for future generations, not destroying it in the name of “progress”.
After the tour, we crossed the street into Monterey Square and then headed east into Calhoun and Whitefield Squares. At Monterey Square we (okay I, again) enjoyed the Pulaski Monument and the Congregation Mickve Israel temple, which is the 3rd oldest temple in the United States. Calhoun Square was laid out in 1851 and named for Vice President John Calhoun. There, we saw the Massie School, but were not able to tour it because of a fundraiser that was being held that day. Calhoun Square is also known as being the only square with all of its original buildings intact ~~ not a small feat considering Savannah has tried to burn herself down on 4 occasions 1796, 1820, 1865, and 1889. Not to mention pirates, plagues, and yellow fever. Whitefield Square was the last square on that block and is best known for being the first burial ground for African-Americans in Savannah.
We then headed four blocks north to visit Troup Square, Lafayette Square, Madison Square, and Pulaski Square. At Madison Square lies the Green-Meldrim House which is where General Sherman lived during the Civil War. We had tried to tour the home, but it was being used for a wedding that day. It now serves of the rector for St. John’s Episcopal Church. While at Lafayette Square, we crossed the street to visit the 124-year-old Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist. This has got to be one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen, or been in. A few other points of interest at that square that we didn’t partake were the Andrew Low House, where the Girl Scouts were founded (I wasn’t a girl scout); and the Flannery O’Connor childhood home.
After the squares, we started heading back to City Market to sit and relax before meeting up with my friend for dinner. But, we were sidetracked by Wright Square Café where our thirst and our sweet tooth got the better of us. We each had large glasses of iced tea and I had a Decadenct Chocolate Truffle Bar and Mom had a Gooey Butter Bar. We sat for awhile at the café before heading back out to begin our walk again.
Soon it was time to go to Loco’s for dinner. The food was okay. We weren’t really planning on eating at any chain restaurants, but they don’t have this one at home so it doesn’t count 🙂 There ended up being a group of six of us and the company definitely made the meal. I had the Cuban Sandwich (roasted pork, ham, salami, Swiss cheese, banana peppers and mayo on a grill-pressed roll. Served with a side of Mojo sauce) and a Caesar salad, Mom had chicken wings. We had a wonderful time visiting and the time just seemed to fly by. Soon, it was time to head to Colonial Cemetery for the ghost tour. Mom was an unwilling participant ~ but she was a good sport. I suppose it helped that I bought her ticket. My friend made reservations with us at Cobblestone Tours for the 9pm Ghost Walk, so we headed to Colonial Cemetery to begin our adventure. At $10.00 person, this tour was definitely a bargain. Our tour guide, Diane, was very knowledgeable and was open to any suggestions, questions, or requests that the group had. We then walked through haunted Savannah viewing the cemetery, the 1790 Restaurant, Kehoe House, Davenport House, Olde Pink House, Wright Square, Juliette Gordon Low House, as well as several other locations. Examples of some of the stories we heard are available at the Cobblestone Tours website, but two of the stories really stuck in my head. While we were at Wright Square, Diane told us the story about a servant who, with the help of her husband, murdered her master. She was to be hung at Wright Square, but was pregnant, so the city of Savannah ruled to prolong her hanging until the baby was born. After the child’s birth, she and her husband were both hung in opposite sides of the square. Before her death, she cursed the city for her death. I should backtrack a bit to say that Spanish Moss is everywhere ~ almost everywhere you turn you can see the hanging from the trees. But, if you look to the side of Wright Square where this lady was hung, you’ll see no Spanish Moss anywhere; but where her husband was hung, it is there in abundance. They say it is because he rests in peace; but because she cursed the town, there is no rest for her and that is why the Spanish Moss doesn’t land on any of the trees on that side of the square.
90-minutes later the tour ended at the Juliette Gordon Low home with one of the sweetest stories I ever heard. Willie and Nellie Gordon (Juliette’s parents) were indeed soul mates and truly did fall in love at first site. Nellie was a friend of Willie’s sister, and they met by accident when Nellie slid down a banister and crashed into Willie, crushing his hat. They were married a short-time later and were together 54 years before Willie died in 1912. In 1917, Nellie was on her deathbed and her daughter-in-law was staying in what used to be Willie’s room. It is said that she saw the image of Willie walk from that room to Nellie’s room, gather her in his arms, and they walked arm in arm out of the house where he preceded to guide her to the hereafter. The butler was also said to have witnessed this and told the story with tears in his eyes.
After the tour, we went back to the hotel to get some much needed rest. We’d been on our feet for 12 ½ hours! Time for some rest before we headed out on the next day’s adventure.