Gary and Cindy Go To Savannah

This was what it was like when we left … .
This is what it was like when we arrived. Any questions?

Gary, Cindy, The Rose Queen and Mr. Savannah

Cindy, Me and my brother Doug - clearly the smarter brother. He lives in Savannah (Forsyth Park 2018)

Cindy and I went to Savannah for the month of April.

People are initially attracted to the "big" things in a new city.  We've been enough times to have seen all the major attractions (eg. pre-Civil War mansions, streets lined with live-oaks, Forsyth Park) in Savannah.  Oh, they're all still wonderful and we're not so jaded that we can't be bothered to see them all again.  But this time we made a real effort to take a closer look at the "little" things. The sights, sounds and people that require a bit more patience.  Experiences that reveal themselves over time, if only you sit still long enough.

We had lots of time.

So we went to the park and waited for Savannah to come to us.

Forsyth Park (2018)
Cindy in the Park (2018)
Cindy in the Park (II)(2018)
Live Oaks - Forsyth Park (2018)
Fountain - Forsyth Park (2018)

Secret Gardens

The Garden Tour (2018)

 Of course, we did leave the park bench now and again.

Savannah is filled with secret gardens, so it was off to the Home and Garden Tour, one of Savannah's annual Spring events and a great way to see private gardens othewise closed to the public.

Winter, such as it is, had been particularly hard in Savannah and there was lots of moaning and groaning about how many plants had been lost.  The part left out was that once the few days of frost had departed, you could push a seedling into the soil and a week later the Garden of Eden would spring back to life.

Having spent a great deal of my adult life in Maine, where this kind of floral abundance is just impossible, the Garden Tour does my soul good.

Garden Tour (2018)
Garden Tour (2018)
Garden Tour (2018)
Garden Tour (2018)
Garden Tour (2018)
Garden Tour (2018)
Garden Tour (2018)
Garden Tour (2018)
Garden Tour (2018)
Garden Tour (2018)

Wrought Iron Angels

"The Crying Cherub" (2018)

Savannah is home to lots and lots of iron work and much of it can be found at street-level (unlike New Orleans where the wrought iron adorns balconies or mansions set back 100 feet from the street and simply can't be viewed in great detail - oh, it's still beautiful, it's just not quite so accessible).  Anyway, hopefully, you can get a sense of the bounty from the following slide-show:

Savannah (2108)
Savannah (2018)
Savannah (2018)
Savannah (2018)
Savannah (2018)
Savannah (2018)
Savannah (2018)
Savannah (2018)

Welcome To Savannah!

"Welcome To Savannah." Cindy (2018)

Savannah is a genuinely welcoming city.  A day doesn't pass when you're not greeted by, "Isn't this a wonderful day in Savannah." or its partner, "Enjoy your stay in our beautiful city."  No, seriously, this actually happens.  I know, particularly for people who live in the more or less frozen North, this is exceedingly strange - to be greeted this warmly, or to be greeted at all.  But it really happens.  So, it's not surprising that Savannah doorways are particularly enticing.

Savannah (2018)
Savannah (2018)
Savannah (2018)
Savannah (2018)
Savannah (2018)
Savannah (2018)
Savannah (2018)
Savannah (2018)

"Old Times There Are Not Forgotten ... ."

Confederate Memorial Day, Savannah (2018)

If you've spent any time in the Old South you know that the Civil War or, as it is often called Down South, The War of Northern Agression or, simply, The War of 1861, still is the subject of much debate.  Passions that are very near the surface and are laced with no small amount of anger, resentment and frankly, menace can be found in the Southern perspective on a period that nearly destroyed the United States and cost the lives of nearly 700,000 people. Tread lightly.

So when on a gloriously sunny day in late April, on what unbeknowst to us, was Confederate Memorial Day, Cindy and I found ourselves in Forsyth Park in the midst of a few dozen men in Confederate uniforms along with perhaps half a dozen women dressed like Scarlett O'Hara, it was with equal parts curiosity and concern that we decided to see where this was going.

The re-enactors had gathered to pay tribute to the Confederate dead and to defend the righteousness of the South's "Lost Cause". 

There were tributes to the fallen.

There were references to the glories of "States' Rights" and "Personal Freedoms".

There was much talk of "Heritage".

Then the wheels started to come off:

There were references to the "Northern Press" and accusations that photos of the murderer of nine people at a church in Charleston in 2015 which showed him with a Confederate flag had been photo-shopped by said "Northern Press".  The speakers claimed that this slander against the flag was just another in a long line of malicious lies designed to wrongly associate the banner of the Confederacy with racism and white supremacy.

That's when we decided to go home.


Mr. Savannah and The Rose Queen

But none of these things - the flowers, the wrought iron, the mansions and their doors,         the re-enactors - none of these things turned out to be the most memorable part of the trip.

Last year when we were in Savannah we met a man, who spent many of his days in the park, offering assistance to tourists who needed help taking a group photo. He was polite, upbeat, funny and had a keen sense of where the line between "helpful" and "intrusive" was.  He never crossed the line.  Sometimes people gave him a few bucks for his efforts.  Sometimes not.  It didn't seem to make much difference to him one way or the other. We let him take our picture. We had someone else take a picture of the three of us - Cindy, me and Mr. Savannah. 

When we came back to Savannah this year we didn't see Mr. S in the park the first few days we were there.  Had he moved away?  Was he sick?

No, he was OK and still holding court.

When we saw him this time, we addressed him as Mr. Savannah and said we remembered him from last Spring and were happy to see he was OK. He was quite pleased that we had remembered him at all.

Then the strange and wonderful part happened:

He was genuinely perplexed as to why we would call him "Mr. Savannah."  I explained that I thought he was a great ambassador for the city and embodied many of the qualities that made Savannah the place that it was: friendly, open. light-hearted and willing to help.  He, on the other hand, thought of himself just as a guy in the park and that he really didn't merit such an honorific.  After awhile, he had me stop calling him Mr. Savannah and asked that I just call him by his given name.  So, I did.  He seemed more comfortable with that but I still called him Mr. Savannah once in a while.  He never really objected.

We saw him just about every day we were in Savannah.  He told us about himself and his family.  About his plans for the future.  He introduced us to some of the regulars in the park. One of his particular friends (they both quite frequently made it known to us that they were most definitely NOT a couple) was a woman who wove palm fronds into what people in the area call "Savannah Roses". She was pretty good at.  She also had a lovely singing voice and would on occasion sing a few lines as the mood struck.  Periodically she would also announce to the tourists in the park,"It's a beautiful day. I'm happy. You all don't seem that happy. You should at least be as happy as me."  She had a point.

The tempation is to call Mr. Savannah and The Rose Queen the happiest people we met.  While they almost certainly were, I don't want to romanticize their situations. There were more than a few times when both of them were obviously not so happy. They didn't need me or anyone else to tell them that they were living what lots of people would view as "marginal" lives.  But in terms of appreciating what they had and being able to deal with whatever, good or bad, they were presented with on any given day - we should all be so lucky. 

So, my friends, thanks.  See you next Spring. 


A Beautiful Day In Savannah! (2018)

Philio 24.07.2018 01:19

Your travels remind me of the line in the Commander's song "There's a whole lot of things I ain't never done, and I ain't never had too much fun." Admirable. -p

Iris Freeman 23.06.2018 18:51

Dear Gary, Thanks for taking me along and showing me the sights, etc. you do such a fabulous job writing all this. Thanks so much. My love to you & Cinty

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Latest comments

08.08 | 00:42

Beautiful pictures guys...looks like you had a marvelous trip...heavenly gardens and fountains! Love Jess & Don... :)

07.08 | 21:20

Is Savannah really that nice all year round? You've got a knack for making a silk purse.... Anyway, I'm convinced; Savannah's on my bucket list. -p

15.05 | 14:44

Thank you for your service.

15.05 | 06:21

Quite interesting for me to know that.