More than just a pretty place

Savannah is just naturally gorgeous.  Its 22 public squares are each a distinct oasis of quiet, draped and garlanded by live oaks and Spanish moss.  But the moss is full of nasty bugs and you dare not touch it.  And when the sun recedes, the sense of darkness is not just about the light. 

That’s what makes Savannah interesting.  Its history is not a distant thing, just something for the guidebooks.  You turn corners and blink because you suddenly can’t remember what century it is.  The revolution was yesterday and the War might still be taking place.  The past is very close, wrapped in light and heat.

Speaking of the weather, despite what I thought was crippling humidity, we toured several historic homes.  Two were related to Juliette Gordon Low, so you former Girl Scouts and Girl Guides should bow your head.  Both her birthplace (whose stable is now Girl Scout headquarters) and her husband’s family home are on display.  Juliette didn’t have a happy marriage, but she surely loved the scouting concept, which she absorbed directly from Lord Baden-Powell.  He recognized an opportunity when over 6,000 young girls tried to register as Boy Guides in England, using their first initials to sign up.  Juliette was the right person at the right time.

We also saw the Mercer-Williams home.  The house was built by local boy Johnny Mercer’s great-grandfather, and was most famously occupied by Jim Williams in the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.  And no, you can’t see the bullet hole.

The other notable home was the Richardson Owens Thomas house, completed in 1819 and host to the Marquis de Lafayette during his time in Savannah.  Gorgeous.

Lots of walking around and then lunch at the famous Pink House, featuring shrimp and grits.  Lovely food and lovely air-conditioning.  However, some of us – I won’t name names – are wilting….


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