• Karen Heckman Stork

Streets of Savannah

“But actually,” she said, “the whole of Savannah is an oasis. We are isolated, gloriously isolated! We’re a little enclave on the coast - off by ourselves surrounded by nothing but marshes and piney woods.” Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

This is a story that needs to be told with a Southern accent, one that I manage to impersonate whenever I’m in one of the beautiful historic Southern cities. So hear the voice of the south as you read about my sojourn in Savannah.

The streets of Savannah are beautiful but deadly. Had a great three-day Valentine’s vacation in Savannah, one of my favorite southern cities that I’ve never visited. Check another item off my bucket list.

Savannah was one of the first planned cities in America. Its historic district consists of 22 squares, of the original 24, which are actually small memorial green garden spaces. The first four squares were laid out by James Oglethorpe in 1733, the same year in which he founded the Georgia colony and the city of Savannah. This grand lady of the South is also famous for her majestic live oak trees covered with ghostly Spanish moss, stately old mansions, brick sidewalks and wandering pedestrians.

Therein lies my problem. I was one of those wandering pedestrians wanting to experience each of the 22 squares, but only managing to visit half of them. As I was walking along a brick sidewalk laid out in a herringbone pattern, my foot caught on a broken brick and I went down hard. My hands slid along the bricks out in front of me feeling like they were scorched and my knee was bruised. My self-image was irrevocably damaged. I was just another old broad who had difficulty remaining upright while walking. A group of onlookers then huddled around me making sure that I was going to get up again, which I needed help doing. I sensed that a couple of guys were trying to pull business cards out of their wallet in case I needed a lawyer. I didn’t let that unfortunate spill stop me though. I continued to hobble along the cobblestones and bricks of the streets of Savannah.

One of my favorite stories of Savannah is told in the book and movie “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," a tale about some memorable characters of Savannah as well as the four murder trials of James Williams. I visited the Williams-Mercer house, the murder site near Monterey Square (see photo), one of my favorite places in the historic district. Another was the Juliette Gordon-Low house where the founder of the Girl Scouts was born. We also walked along Jones Street which has often been called one of the ten most beautiful streets in the country.

We visited all of these scenic spots and more as part of an all-day on-off trolley tour by Old Savannah Tours. I highly recommend this experience for touring the historic district. The drivers/guides provided interesting and varied perspectives on the history of Savannah and you could get off and walk around as many times as you wanted all day long.

Our stay in Savannah was too short, but we managed to take in most of the historic sites of the city. However, we missed the well-known Bonaventure Cemetery where composer Johnny Mercer was laid to rest, and we didn’t get to check out the ocean on Tybee Island. Oh well, that’s an adventure and a story for another day.

P.S. I highly recommend John Berendt’s book about Savannah which was a finalist for the 1995 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction.

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