Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Things I just learned about Savannah, GA

1. They were recently named the most haunted city in the US. I do not know who actually has the authority to make this call or why Salem, Mass. was recently stripped of the title, but a look around at all the companies offering haunted tours makes it clear that ghosts are big business.

It is such a draw that during our excellent free walking tour, our guide, Chris, told us about one of his guests asking where she could purchase ghost hunting equipment.   The fact that he could not easily answer this question tells me that there are not enough entrepreneurs in Savannah.  I would think you could attach a whistle to a flashlight, maybe add an antenna...and voila, you've got yourself the paranormal starter kit.  Add a helmet and you're a deluxe demon detector.

I asked Chris what the city planned to do to stay competitive in this field.  You know Salem is spooking it up trying to get their crown back.  If the people of Savannah have a plan, they're not talking.
2.  A good chunk of the movie "Forest Gump" was filmed here.  The famous bench where he sits and eats chocolates was in one of the squares but was only a prop that was removed promptly after the scene was shot.  There was some discussion about placing a commemorative bench in the same spot to appease tourists but since it would be smack in the middle of a major thoroughfare, those plans were nixed.  Tourists still gather and block traffic while staring at nothing.

3.  Those picturesque squares that are so evocative of the genteel South and specifically of Savannah were actually part of a military design.  The city is laid out in a grid fashion and the squares were placed at regular intervals to give the troops somewhere to muster, if need be.  It was not until much later that they were landscaped and became the tranquil gathering places that we now know.

4.  In their long and varied history, the names of the squares and whom they honored changed with the fashion of the times.  Therefore, the monuments and the people buried beneath them often do not match, even if they say that they do.  I am not saying that this practice is what pissed off the ghosts, but I am sure it did not help.

5.  The city smells amazing in May.  The magnolias were beginning to bloom and their sweet smell lingered everywhere we went.

6.  You should not trust an old Southern lady to not screw up vegetables.  We went to the tourist favorite,  the Wilkes House, where all the food is served up family style.  At first glance, it looks like a vegetarian could fare alright because there are so many veggie side dishes on the table.   There are no menus or signs indicating otherwise.  It is only when you ask, that the granddaughter of the original owners comes over and points out that everything green has bacon in it.  This leaves you with a $20 plate of cole slaw and mac and cheese.  My advice for fellow veg's is to skip it.

7.  Jones Street was one of the most prestigious addresses.  It was named after a wealthy family who had the nicest home on the block.  The expression "keeping up with the Joneses" is said to have originated here.

8.  The most haunted building in the most haunted city is the Moon River Brewing Company. We stopped here for a beer and when I asked the waitress about their claim to fame, she happily offered to show us around the basement and the attic.

It was still daytime so the creepy factor was not as high as it could have been, but they do offer haunted sleepovers for the more determined ghost hunters.  Or you could simply watch Ghost Adventures, where a roided up Bro-man screams into the ether trying to goad ghosts into fighting him.  Never before have I been so firmly on team ghost.

9.  The house that is featured in both the book and the movie, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is also haunted.  This should not come as a surprise as the book is about the owner of the house killing his lover (who no one knew was his lover because, as a good Southerner, he was still in the closet and was also probably incapable of making green beans without adding a pork product). During an evening haunted tour, I learned that every single owner of that house had, at some time, killed someone.  The present owner has yet to kill anyone but there is still time.

10.  After visiting the haunted city, drinking at the haunted pub and taking the haunted tour, I had to concede that perhaps I have no ghostdar (I don't have gaydar either but that's a different story).  I sensed nothing, saw nothing and didn't hear as much as one mournful moan.

Supernatural sightings aside, I did really enjoy Savannah and will think of it every time I pass a blooming magnolia tree..particularly if it's a haunted one.

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