Saturday, September 25, 2010

Experience Savannah with a song of Georgia


More posts on Norway will be coming in the future but the roads have led us back to Georgia, to Savannah to be precise. We have been to Savannah several times and never tire of visiting this gracious city near the Atlantic Coast. On the picture below Savannah is near the seal of Georgia.



Savannah is a historic city of the Old South visited by numerous tourists. It was founded in 1733 by General James Edward Oglethorpe (1696-1785), a Member of Britain’s Parliament and head of the Prison Reform Committee. He wished to create a humanitarian colony and in November 1732 Oglethorpe and 114 settlers voyaged to Georgia. Landing at Yamacraw Bluff, above the Savannah River, on 12 February 1733 his party was greeted by Tomo-Chi-Chi, chief of the Yamacraw Indians. Savannah and the 13th colony, Georgia, were founded on that date.

Postcard showing the Landing of General Oglethorpe and meeting with Tomo-chi-chi, painted by William Verelst (from Georgia Info site)

Tomo-chi-chi became a friend of General Oglethorpe and helped him settle the area in peace. Thus the colony avoided much of the warfare that was common during the establishment of early American colonies. The following year when Tomo-chi-chi was 84, he went back to England with his wife Senauki, Oglethorpe and a small delegation of tribesmen.


Tomo-chi-chi meeting with the Trustees Common Council in 1734, painted by William Verelst (courtesy Winterthur Museum)

Tomo-chi-chi was handsome and very tall, close to 7 feet (almost 2 m.)


Painting of Tomo-chi-chi with his nephew Toonahowi, by Verelst

He was in his early nineties when he died in 1739 and requested that his body be buried in Savannah. He was buried with an elaborate funeral in Wright’s Square.


Click on picture to enlarge
We wandered around the squares which are all planted with large shady trees dripping with Spanish moss. Each square, about 1 acre (0.405 hectare), is different with its own character, landscaping and history. We were grateful that Oglethorpe planned these squares close to each other so we could rest under the cool shade of the tall live oaks.



There are six Historic Neighborhoods with 22 squares remaining out of the original 24. This downtown area is the largest National Historic Landmark District in the United States. These park-like squares are bordered by magnificent antebellum mansions, charming town homes, restored cottages, antiques churches and many fountains.




We had wonderful weather while in Savannah, warm but not humid or as warm as in Atlanta. It was difficult to take photographs because of the harsh light and heavy shadows, plus wires and cars. I would be looking up to watch the sun rays playing through the old huge branches and see the breeze stirring the moss hanging from the live oak trees.





Looking down was good too as I did not want to slip on uneven cobblestones moved up from the large roots of the old trees.



Fortunately each landscaped square had benches around the central monument or fountain. They invited us to rest our tired feet. We took advantage of them.



Being September and during the week there were few people walking. Most of the tourists were in tour buses or trolleys. We would hear the “clippity-clop” of horse-drawn carriages. Soon we would see them stop close by and the tour guide give information on the homes and squares.



Later on in the evening we saw many joggers, people walking their dogs or just strolling by. We went up and down Bull Street which is the dividing line between east and west in the Historical District. I found a couple of vintage postcards in my collection showing Bull Street in day time and night time. They are not dated but by the look of the cars, it could be the 30s or early 40s.




The little bird below flew to a bush across from my bench and stood there looking at me, so I took its picture.


We strolled to another square, Monterey Square, with a tall monument in its center honoring Count Pulaski. A bas relief at the base shows Casimir Pulaski mortally wounded in 1779 at the Battle of Savannah against the British. A Polish nobleman he immigrated to the colonies as a soldier of fortune. He saved the life of George Washington during the revolutionary war and became a general. Count Pulaski is one of seven people to be awarded honorary US citizenship.


Click to enlarge and click again on each picture to bigify.

We passed by a young man, playing the guitar, and kept strolling, looking at lovely historical structures.



Some of the houses had markers indicating who had inhabited them, like the one where novelist Mary Flannery O’Connor grew up – see below.





Maybe because I was born in Paris and old historical buildings were surrounding me I miss them now so enjoy walking around old edifices, statues and squares – and seating on benches just looking at people go by. This is something not easily done in modern USA with all its freeways and tall buildings. As a teenager I grew up, close to Paris, in a house where we had a cellar which had been part of a leper colony in the Middle Ages (that’s old!) It was a great place to keep wine at the right temperature.

Do not forget to click on collage then click again on each pictures to bigify

In the few days we were in Savannah I took over 700 pictures. I’ll have several posts with collages to give a feeling for this lovely city and its hundred year old magnolia trees, majestic live oaks dripping with Spanish moss and tall Palmetto palms.


Please do click on the collage and each picture for better clarity. It is difficult to see with all the big trees.



The streets and the avenues were bordered by large trees, too, not just in the squares.



It must be very romantic having a walk with your sweetie as moonlight seeps through the live oaks. Wasn’t that what Ray Charles sang? No, it was moonlight through the pines I think. I worked with a man whose last name was Robinson, like Ray Charles (Robinson) and was a distant cousin. He told me Ray Charles was born in Albany, Georgia. Last Thursday, 23 September, would have been Ray’s 80th birthday. He was born on 23 September 1930 and unfortunately passed away on 10 June 2004. I was a fan of his for decades. When I was a teenager I bought all the 45 vinyl records I could afford. I still have them, all five of them. I bought them in 1959 and 1960. I turned one around so you could see that he won a record prize in 1958 in France. Here they are below:








It was hard for me to understand some of the lyrics but I played the records again and again until I knew all the words. Little did I know, as I was listening to him in Paris, that many years ahead I would end up living in Georgia, the state where he was born. In 1979 the Georgia State General Assembly adopted one of his hits “Georgia on my mind” as the state song. From 1997 through 2009 the Georgia license plates used the title of the song. The Georgia’s Welcome signs say “Welcome. We’re glad Georgia’s on your mind.” It is truly one of the greatest songs of all time.


Ray Charles (1930-2004)
In 1996, for the Summer Olympics Games in Atlanta, my daughter and I went early in the afternoon to Centennial Olympic Park and stood there waiting for Ray Charles who was going to sing. We were in front and I took many pictures of his great performance, but with my old film camera.


(pictures  Public Domain)


“Georgia, Georgia,
The whole day through
Just an old sweet song
Keeps Georgia on my mind

I said Georgia
Oh Georgia
A song of you
Comes as sweet and clear
As moonlight through the pines

Other arms reach out to me
Other eyes smile tenderly
Still in peaceful dreams I see
The road leads back to you….”


56 comments:

DJan said...

What a wonderful post (as usual)! I love the immense trees with the moss hanging down, and the pictures of Ray Charles. What did you think of the movie? I really enjoyed it, but I don't know how factual it was. And those old beautiful houses in Savannah... just wonderful. Thank you, VB, for taking the time to bring me along to Georgia.

Ann said...

Such a beautiful post. My parents were from Georgia and all my relatives are there. Despite having moved to Calif. after WW2..my parents retained their Southern graces and hospitality. My mother never lost her accent !
My daughter was named for this beautiful Southern city!

lakeviewer said...

My lovely Vagabonde, thank you for this trip to Georgia with all its ante-bellum mansions and parks. Finishing with Ray Charles is so very sweet!

Lonicera said...

"Hit the road, Jack..." is the one I remember best, because I loved the rythm. Those trees make Savannah so special, and all that moss... it's fascinating. I love your collages.
Caroline

Jojo said...

Savannah is such a special city and one of Georgia's treasures. 700 photos? Looking forward to seeing more of Norway and Savannah.

Margaret Bednar said...

I know that when I visit historic Charleston, SC I am wowed by a similar atmosphere. I can see I am also going to have to visit Savannah someday as well. Can't wait to see more pics. Just wonderful. Thank you.

Vicki Lane said...

A lovely post, Vagabonde. Savannah is charming beyond belief. And I've bbeen a fan of Ray Charles since the early sixties!

sweffling said...

Thank you so much for the trip! It looks a staggeringly beautiful place. I have never been to the South of the US but read stories about it as a little girl. I never quite understood the paradox between dignified, polite, gracious people and the awful slavery. But this probably just shows my total ignorance of the subtleties of politics and history in the States.

Wonderful photos. I lingered over each, savouring the architecture, the light and the vegetation.

NB Where outside Paris did you spend your childhood? I am off to the Marais district for 7 weeks from end of October.

TorAa said...

This is an impressive post. I have learned a lot, so much I wanna go to Savannah and Georgia is now on my mind. No doubt.
In 2011 we will vist our Son in SW Michigan and as well friends in St. Paul. Only a short flight away...

Hugs
Tor

PS. Thanks for a nice comment regarding "natural"

My Carolina Kitchen said...

Savannah is such a lovely city and you captured its beauty and spirit in this post. The Spanish moss clinging to the tree branches makes it almost looked haunted at times.

I saw the movie about Ray Charles' life and he really had to fight for his rights. It's hard to imagine, but at one time he was not welcome in Georgia.

I think of Ray every time we cross the state line into Georgia and the welcome sign says (as you pointed out), "We're glad Georgia's on your mind."
Sam

Lelé Batita said...

Very important post. I learn always many things in your Blog. Congratulations for being such a good blogger.
Kisses and hugs.

alwaysinthebackrow said...

My sister, who has visited Savannah many times has told me how wonderful it is. Now I see it in your photos. I have it on my list of places to visit.

manon 21 said...

Merci de ta visite.
Merci de cette jolie ballade dans ton pays d'adoption.

Amicalement

Manon

dutchbaby said...

I have never been to Savannah but have read Pat Conroy's descriptions in his novels and now I have your words and images to add to my impressions of the city. I would like to visit there some day.

I love Ray Charles also; I believe I owned that bottom record you show. I play his last duet album quite often on my iPod.

Ruth said...

It's beautiful to read about your listening to Ray Charles, never dreaming you would one day live in Georgia.

Savannah is a gorgeous city. I loved it in "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" not having seen much of it before then. I would like to go there, and also to Charleston. We were going to go to Charleston last Christmas, and we changed our minds at the last minute and stayed home by ourselves.

I would probably take hundreds of photos in Savannah too, it is so picturesque. I can see why you would love it, and why I love Paris too. Being surrounded by human-created beauty in a city imaginatively laid out is a pleasure.

Friko said...

Savannah must be a wonderful old town, very unusual for America with its old houses and squares. The way you described it brings it to life for me; I wish I too could stroll through the streets, sit on a bench and watch tout Savannah walk by.

And perhaps listen to Ray Charles sing 'Georgia'.

Abraham Lincoln said...

Becky, Melissa, Patty and I went to Savannah 25-30 years ago and it was super hot and humid. But we did really enjoy the squares and the homes around them. It gave us an idea of how the south must have been at one time and in this case, still was. I didn't have a camera with me that time and never did get any pictures of the city but your photos brought back a lot of memories of place we saw and remembered.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

What a beautiful little gem of a city this is....Your pictures made me feel as if I too took a walk around town! This is a great gift, my dear. And I love how you always give us some History, too....
"Georgia" was written by Hoagy Carmichael and the name of the man that wrote the lyrics---Well, his name escapes me. But it was written for Hoagy C'x sister, whose name was 'Georgia'

Zhu said...

Savannah... just the name sounds so poetic. I had Ray Charles in my head as I read this post.

The picture of the bird with the bokeh behind is beautiful!

rauf said...

lovely pictures Vagabonde. 7 feet is quite a height for a man. i remember Wilt Chamberlain a basket ball player was that tall.

history of Georgia doesn't seem to be unpleasant. i remember watching a movie 'forces of nature' Sandra Bullock and Ben Affleck. the movie ends with some powerful images of Savannah, beautiful old buildings and a wedding in storm.

Dedene said...

What a lovely post and gorgeous photos. Monsieur Titi and I have actually been to Savannah! We both really enjoyed it. Thanks for the visit.

lorilaire said...

Très beau reportage, impressionnantes ces mousses espagnoles !
Bizz Lori

Ginnie said...

I'm guessing you also love the movie "Ray" that was played so brilliantly by Jamie Foxx back in 2005...one of the movies in my DVD collection, VB. In fact, I was just tellinbg Astrid the other day that I'm in a mood to see it again...and show it to her. I have been to Savannah but not to really get acquainted with the city. It's possible we will visit it in October when Astrid and I will spend a few days with friends south of Atlanta. I would like that, now that you have whetted my appetite big time! Thank you.

♠ ♠ ♠ Nancy ♠ ♠ ♠ said...

*** En ce mardi matin je viens déposer chez toi des pensées amicales et plein de bisous ! :o) Passe une bonne journée Vagabonde ! :o) ***

Jeanie said...

Another astounding post filled with wonderful tidbits of information -- all well researched and so beautifully presented! This is a city I've always wanted to visit and this post does nothing but make me want to go all the more! Stunning photos and collages! (And I'm a Ray fan, too! Had the privilege of hearing him in concert and I'll never forget it!)

Don said...

And now I want to visit Savannah. It's on my list.

claudie said...

Je suis très impressionée par la richesse de ton reportage. Cela me donne vraiment envie de visiter la Géorgie! J'adore Ray Charles depuis toujours. Je l'ai vu en concert en 91 à Chateauvallon, qui fut un grand centre culturel du jazz dans les années 60. C'est un lieu particulier pedu dans les collines du midi de la France. J'ai RC, sa voix et toute son oeuvre. J'attends bien sur ton post sur Oslo avec impatience!!!

dot said...

Savannah is such a pretty city. I enjoyed seeing it again through your pictures.

Tammie Lee said...

ah, Ray Charles, Huge oaks, and roots breaking up the cobblestones. Thank you for this visit. Also thank you for your visit to my spirithelpers blog!

Karin (an alien parisienne) said...

Hello Vagabonde! Your blog comments on my post inspired me to spend the better part of the day catching up on people's blogs and their stories they have to tell. Your post, as always, is full of "treasure stories" (I just made up that name for them, as I always feel like I have unearthed gems when reading your posts), and I loved learning more about Georgia. There is something very "otherworldly" and romantic about Georgia, Savannah in particular, I think, and I would love to visit one day. Until then, I can check out your posts about it.

I love the vintage cards up there -- I am so excited when you include the vintage things in your writings!

I was also very excited to see the information about Flannery O'Connor's childhood home. I had a good friend who was very taken with her stories and while I know I have read one or two, it has been so long since I read them, I am inspired to read some once again from this post. I had no idea she was so young when she died. I'm very taken with her life and her art, and will have to learn more after seeing this!

The photos, as always, are stunning.

Keep up your terrific work, my dear. You provide so many lovely things in your posts!

Take care!
Karin

Snowbrush said...

"I...am behind in reading my friends’ blogs but I am still posting..."

I followed one of your readers back to your blog and didn't notice that the post she responded to wasn't your last post.

What I remember best about Savannah wasn't actually. in Savannah but nearby--Fort Pulaski, the bombardment of which by rifled projectiles signaled the end of brick forts as an effective defense against cannonades no matter how thick those forts were.

claude said...

Vagabonde, je viens de faire une merveilleuse visite. Que tes posst sont intéressants et captivants. Je n'en perd pas une miette. C'est un vrai plaisir que de venir chez toi. Et cet hommage au grand Ray. Merci pour la vidéo, C'st toujours un grand moment quand je l'acoute. J'ai vu le film "Ray" sur sa vie.

Shammickite said...

I drove through savannah once, but wasn't able to stop more that 30 minutes or so. We were looking for accommodation and needed to find a camp site before dark and drove into Savannah for a quick look. I'd love to have a longer time to investigate this beautiful old city. Ahhhh... maybe one day! You hve certianly painted a detailed picture of the old live oak trees, the historic buildings, and the warm feeling you have for this fascinating place.
And I loved everything that Ray Charles did too. I saw him live in concert in Portsmouth, England back in the early 60s, he was wonderful.
"Hit the Road, Jack!" Loved that song!

Vagabonde said...

DJan – I saw the movie on Ray Charles the first week it came out and really liked it. When I was watching the movie I did not think it was Jamie Foxx, I thought it was Ray.

Vagabonde said...

Ann – welcome to my blog. Savannah is a lovely romantic name for a lady. I hope if you have not visited the city yet, that you will be able to visit her in the future.

Vagabonde said...

Margaret Bednar – I also feel that Charleston has that romantic Deep South feeling. I went there twice, but it has been several years ago, so I need to revisit it.

Vagabonde said...

TorAa – I hope you can visit the south on you next trip to the US, like Charleston, Savannah or New Orleans. All three have exquisite atmosphere.

Vagabonde said...

Lakeviewer, Lonicera, Jojo, Vicki Lane, sweffling, My Carolina Kitchen, Lele Batita, alwaysinthebackrow, dutchbaby, Zhu, Dedene, Jeanie, Don, Dot – thank you all for stopping by my blog. I appreciate your comments a lot. If I have not been to visit your blog lately, I’ll do so soon. I have been trying to catch up and write my posts at the same time. Then, there is always the next trip…

Vagabonde said...

Manon 21 – bienvenue sur mon blog. Merci pour le gentil commentaire. A bientôt j’espère.

Vagabonde said...

Lorilaire – oui c’est vrai, les mousses espagnoles donnent un air très romantique. Merci pour le com.

Vagabonde said...

Ruth – thank you for your nice comment. Savannah is such a lovely town, and not really that far from us (3 ½ hours from Atlanta’s city limits) so we should go there more often. I’ll try to go back there next spring to take photos when everything is in bloom.

Vagabonde said...

Friko – Savannah was well planned by an Englishman, Oglethorpe. It is wonderful that somehow the city survived almost intact. Thanks for the visit.

Vagabonde said...

Abraham Lincoln – like you, we went to Savannah when our girls were little, in the 70s. It has not changed much, it is better I think. They have restored more buildings and cleaned up many old ones. Thanks for the comment.

Vagabonde said...

Lady of the Hills – I had heard that the song was named for a lady called Georgia. But I prefer to think of it now as the Georgia state song, it is such a lovely melody.

Vagabonde said...

Rauf – I did not see Force of Nature. I’ll have to check it out. When one walks into the beautiful Savannah garden squares it is most restful and peaceful too. It is better to come off-season though as there can be many tourists.

Vagabonde said...

Ginnie – As I was saying to Ruth, above, from the city limits, south of Atlanta, to Savannah, it is only about 3 ½ hours, so it is not a bad drive. Once past Macon there is a lot less traffic than on I-75. I think Astrid would enjoy Savannah (and maybe a short stay in Hilton Head.) Thanks for the visit to my blog.

Vagabonde said...

Nancy – Merci pour ton gentil message. Je passerai voir ton blog très bientôt. Bon week-end.

Vagabonde said...

Claudie – Je pourrais faire encore 4 or 5 posts sur Savannah car j’ai tants de photos et le sujet est très intéressant. Entre temps j’essaierai d’en écrire sur la Norvège. Merci de ta visite et pour le gentil message.

Vagabonde said...

Tammy Lee – welcome to my blog. It such a pleasure to have you come for a visit. I hope you will come again.

Vagabonde said...

Karin (an alien parisienne) – I like that term “treasure stories” you are very kind. I do hope you can visit Savannah some day, you would enjoy it. Thanks for the comment.

Vagabonde said...

Snowbrush – we did visit Fort Pulaski but during our first time to Savannah in the 70s. This time after going to the square where there is a statue of Count Pulaski I read his story and was moved. Thanks for visiting my blog.

Vagabonde said...

Claude – tu es bien gentille de venir lire mes longs posts et de me laisser un si gentil commentaire. Je suis toujours contente de tes visites.

Vagabonde said...

Shammickite – thanks for stopping by. I think that Ray Charles is universally liked. He was so talented. I hope you can come back to Savannah some day.

Peter Tibbles said...

2 m. is about 6' 7", so Tomo-chi-chi was well over 2 m.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I throughly enjoyed all the posts you wrote about Savannah and Georgia! Your daughter's wedding looked beautiful. Moving on to older posts...

marciamayo said...

Vagabonde, thanks so much for the beautiful Savannah travelogue. I grew up there and had a small place in the historic district unti I had to sell it to move to Atlanta. My daughter and I will spend Thanksgiving in Savannah and I am so looking forward to it.

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