Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Old Town Trolley Tour

(Please read “A Yankee Does Savannah” first before you read this story.)

I took the Old Town Trolley Tour around Savannah’s historic district while Nanci was doing her thing with Jeopardy. I took the Paula Deen tour the last time I was in Savannah, so thought I’d take in a little history this time. I love history.

My trolley driver and tour guide for most of the trip was named Scott. Besides all the historical facts he imparted to us, he also related some stories and facts you might not see in the history books. He was very entertaining and I enjoyed the tour very much. A beautiful blue sky kind of day with a slight breeze made the open air trolley ride even better.

There are 16 stops on the tour. I will tell you some of the stories and history Scott told us about along the way.

We were shuttled to the trolley’s car barn which is on Martin Luther King Boulevard. Here you will find the historic railroad station and at Stop 1 nearby is the Savannah History Museum; the Civic Center; Roundhouse Railroad Museum; the Civil Rights Museum.

I must mention that even the shuttle driver made us feel welcome before we even started the tour. He made sure we understood that we were now on “slow” time, as is the Southern way.

As we headed out to Stop 2, via Oglethorpe Ave., Scott told us about General James Oglethorpe, the founder of Savannah. Please see the other sidebar, “Oglethorpe and the Founding of Atlanta” for more of that history.

What he did tell us about Oglethorpe, who had a charter from the king of England to found the city, was the four things Oglethorpe would not allow in the new colony known as Savannah:

1.    No hard liquor was allowed. You could drink beer or ale, however.

2.    No slavery

3.    No Catholics

4.    No lawyers

The general was sent to the area to act as a buffer south of the Savannah River to protect the Carolinas from Spanish Florida and French Louisiana, both Catholic strongholds. Thus the ban on Catholics.

Scott told us, however, that after about 25 years, all four of the bans were lifted.

SCAD or Savannah College of Art and Design (I think that’s right) have done a lot of restoration work in the city. Scott pointed out the places they had worked on or were in the process of working on.

Stop 2 is the City Market area as you see in this picture. There was a horse and carriage similar to this one when we went by. What used to be an open market now has been built up with lots of interesting shops to visit. You can take carriage rides throughout the city, go by pedicab or even by Segway.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

From the Lady Chablis internet page.
Scott pointed out many places along the way that had been the scene of many movies over the years. Most notable is the book made into a movie by John Berendt called Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil which was based on a true story. We went by Club One where one character, who is a real person in fact, Lady Chablis, a transgender woman, performed. She still does. I thought of Lady Chablis when I created one character in my own book, who was also a real person. You can take a tour that covers the life of Jim Williams from the book.
Other Scottisms
A couple of other good stories Scott told were about the Monument of the Confederacy and the first house in Savannah that had electricity.
The monument was paid for by the Daughters of the Confederacy. It was made in Canada and shipped down to Savannah so that it would not touch Yankee soil on the way down. It was placed facing the North—towards the enemy.
The first house with electricity in Savannah turned out to be a big event. Townsfolk were invited to come and stand outside the house when they turned the lights on for the first time. Everyone expected the house to explode when they turned them on so they all jumped back when the house was lit up.
Scott said that it became a big date night when a beau asked if his girl wanted to go see the lights come on in the house in the evening. Guess that was their “whale watching” gimmick in those days.
The Waving Girl
At stop 11 on River Street is a statue of a waving girl. She stood by the water and waved to every ship that went by for years and years. A sailor said he’d come back to her, so she waved every day in the hopes he would come back. Her name was Florence Martus. She lived from 1862-1941. When she died, 2000 sailors came to her funeral.
This is the only stop I got out at because it was a short walk to the candy store where I wanted to get some pralines. While I was there a humungus container ship came in to port right by where we were in the trolley.
The Final Calamity
OK, here it is. You cheaters have read all the way through so now I will tell you the end of the story.
When the trolley returned to the car barn and I was waiting for the shuttle to take me back to the hotel to meet up with Nanci again, I decided to call her. Guess what? No cell phone. My five year old Blackberry with every important phone number in my life on it was nowhere to be found.
Along the way I was struggling to keep track of a cane; the backpack; reading glasses and dark glasses; a hat, a pad and pen for notes; and later the bag of candy. Remember the text message I got when I started this trip back at the hotel? That was the last time I saw it.
So now what? The cell phone was the only way I could contact her. I had already checked out of the hotel. I was in a panic. I know my blood pressure went up considerably. Well, I said, she will probably go back to the hotel looking for me. I knew, of course, she must be panicking too at this point.
I had to wait a while for the shuttle, but when I got to the hotel and saw the car in the parking lot I breathed a sigh of relief.
Alls well that ends well, I guess. I left instructions for the possible return of my phone—fat chance—and we got on the road home to get back to our Butchie who was home alone with a pile of food and extra water.
Nanci says she thinks she did well this time with Jeopardy. We have our fingers crossed. We could use a break. Who knows what will happen if we attempt to take a trip to California for the show?
For more on the history of Savannah and its founder, General Oglethorpe, please go on to the next story, “Oglethorpe and the Founding of Savannah.”
Thanks for listening.

UPDATE: The lost is found! The good people of Old Town Trolleys found my phone and sent it back to me via Fed X yesterday, less than a week from when I took the tour. My heartfelt thanks go out to everyone at Old Town Trolley for their attention to details when it comes to their tourists. I highly recommend this tour if you are ever visiting Savannah. The drivers/tour guides are very pleasant in the southern way and very informative. Thank you Old Town Trolleys!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

AUGUST 14-16, 2015
Harbor Park, Rockland
For more information:
call 888-565-4951
or go to:

Monday, April 13, 2015

A Yankee Does Savannah
This Yankee and the other Yankee from Philly, Nanci, recently spent a night and a day in Savannah, Georgia. The trip, which is about four hours away, was mainly a comedy of errors. However, once we got there we both had a great time, until calamity struck at the very end of our visit. You’ll have to read this whole story or cheat and go to the end now to discover what the calamity was. Don’t cheat!
There will also be two other side bars with this story so go into the blog and look for “The Old Town Trolley Tour” and “Oglethorpe and the Founding of Savannah.”
The reason for our visit to probably the most charming and history-laden city in Georgia, was Nanci’s participation in a Jeopardy search event at the Westin hotel in Savannah. We have gone to Savannah once before for the same reason. We hope this time, which is about the seventh or eighth time she’s tried out for the show, will be the one, the magic charm so to speak.
I did take some pictures, but they didn’t come out very well on this little cheap camera I have. I therefore have stolen some shots from the brochures I brought back with me.
The Trip Down
We left the Atlanta area about 1:00 pm after Nanci actually did some of her real job in the am, if you can believe it. Nanci had looked online and tried to pick the best route for us. Everywhere she looked she could see construction delays. It’s the story of our life around here. Kids growing up in Georgia would think it strange if they didn’t see a bunch of orange cones in their travels around the state.
We more or less flipped a coin and chose several connecting highways to get to our destination. Although the day was nice, the construction about drove us crazy. She drove and we couldn’t go more than 50 miles or so without running into a stretch of construction. She’d get it up to 80 or so and learned how to use the cruise control to save her bad knee when she could.
And oh, did I mention the bugs who insisted on ending their short lives on our windshield all the way down?
The Hotel and Dinner
We checked into our hotel about 5:00 or so and tried to catch our breath for a while. Our room was nice with a nice couch, microwave, frig, and tv. We munched on the snacks we had brought with us while we waited for our reservation time for dinner at Lady and Sons.
Our favorite Southern chef,
 Paula Deen
Parking was scarce on those old narrow streets and it was also Spring Break time and the city was loaded with people. Therefore we pulled into a parking lot for a whopping $10 dollar fee. The parking attendant was amusing though. He and Nanci exchanged jokes and he probably told the one she gave him for the rest of the night. I think the man may have warrants out on him up Atlanta way because he mentioned he had a DUI and couldn’t go back up there because of it. Hmmmm.
Before we went in to eat we went next door to the Paula Deen Store. Oh boy, I could have bought one of everything in there. I did get an apron and a T-shirt. We got out of there before I went really crazy.
For dinner I had an appetizer of fried green tomatoes, one of my very favorite southern dishes. Then we both had crab stuffed shrimp. She loved dinner, I wasn’t crazy about it. I think I prefer my shrimp in more of a plain fashion.
Did I also mention that I forgot my reading glasses? I only had four pair at home and none of them found their way into my suitcase. Therefore I couldn’t see what I was eating very well and the lighting was also poor so there you go. We were going to bring some key lime pie back to the room with us, but decided against it.
Nanci walked down the street after we left the restaurant and got me some new glasses and a bottle of Tylenol because we both had forgotten to bring any kind of pain medicine with us—she with a bad knee and me with a bad knee and ankle.
The Next Day
The next morning we got Nanci all dolled up to go see the Jeopardy people and she left about 9:00 am. By the way, she forgot her good shoes and had to wear the sneakers she drove down in. She only had to drive over the New Talmadge Bridge to get to the Westin, about ten minutes away. We packed the car before she left and I put what I needed for the day into a backpack.
Checkout was 11:30 am so I hung out in the room awhile. There was a free breakfast downstairs but I was feeling apprehensive about going on a trolley tour by myself with a cane and knee and ankle braces to get me through the day. Although I had exercised ahead of time, I still have not recuperated enough so that I can stand or walk for too long.
I finally got up enough courage to go find some breakfast. There was actually a tour representative for the tour I had booked ahead of time online, in the lobby. She relieved my mind about how I would get to and from the tour. She said there was a shuttle that would take me back and forth.
So I managed to get an English muffin toasted in the breakfast room which was full of people. There was hardly elbow room. As I found a place to sit, my cell phone text feature rang. It was T Mobile telling me they had received my most recent payment. I thought, “get lost.” I have enough to think about right now.
Some other people in the hotel were going on the same tour, so I made friends with them. They could see I had a cane I think because when the shuttle left us off we had to walk a bit to get to the trolley for the tour. One of the women let me get in front of her to get into the trolley so I wouldn’t have to stand too long. I got a wonderful seat right behind the driver and my legs held up just fine. I planned to stay on the trolley and not get on and off, which was an option. Another trolley would come along in about 15 minutes and your tour would pick up right you left it off.
As it happened I did get off once. But you will have to read the tour story, “The Old Town Trolley Tour” to find out where. And guess what, you’ll also have to read to the end of that story to find out what the big calamity was. Sorry, cheaters.

Oglethorpe and the Founding of Savannah

Photo from Wikipedia

General James Oglethorpe was granted a charter by King George II to establish a colony south of the Savannah River to protect the Carolinas from Spanish Florida and French Louisiana.
Oglethorpe arrived in 1732 in the ship Anne which carried the general and 114 colonists. In 1733 the settlers landed at Yamacraw Bluff and were greeted by Tomochici, the Yamacraws, and John and Mary Musgrove, Indian traders.
With Mary Musgrove acting as translator, Oglethorpe and Tomochici formed a lasting friendship. The result was the founding of the city of Savannah, along with the Province of Georgia. The Yamacraws chose to live on the island, leaving Savannah to the colonists. In this manner Savannah was able to flourish without the threat of warfare with their Indian neighbors unlike the troubles other beginning colonies had with native Indians.
As noted before, Oglethorpe placed four bans on the colony as it was formed:
1.    No hard liquor allowed, beer and ale were all right
2.    No Catholics (because of the first paragraph in this story)
3.    No slavery
4.    No lawyers
We can understand why he would place the first three bans, but the last one, no lawyers, is still a mystery. Maybe he had bad relations with some lawyer along the way. In any event, all four bans went by the wayside within about 25 years of the founding of the city.
Savannah is the largest city and the county seat of Chatham County. It was the first colonial and state capital of Georgia. It is known as America’s first planned city. Its unique architecture, much of it surviving Sherman’s march to the sea during the Civil War, attracts many visitors to the area.
Some historic sites include the home that was the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A.; Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences (one of the South’s first public museums); the First African Baptist Church (one of the oldest black Baptist congregations in the U.S.); Temple Mickve Israel (the third-oldest synagogue in America); and the Central of Georgia Railway roundhouse complex (the oldest standing antebellum rail facility in America). Savannah’s downtown historic area is one of the largest National Historic Landmark Districts in the U.S.
Today Savannah is also an important center of the arts with its art schools making an important mark in their host city. SCAD or Savannah College of Art and Design have restored antebellum buildings and it continues to go forward in that pursuit.