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….”

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Art in the Park in Cobb County

Cobb County is located near Atlanta, Georgia. It was created in 1832 from the huge Native American Cherokee territory, northwest of the Chattahoochee River. This land was confiscated from the original Cherokee Nation following the passage of the federal Indian Removal Act. The Cherokee people were then forced to march to Indian Territory (present day Oklahoma state) on the infamous “Trail of Tears” where many perished (see my post on this here.)

Original extent of Cherokee Nation

We live in the west part of Cobb County and are about the same distance from 4 towns in this county: Marietta (the county seat) - Kennesaw (close to Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park where the Atlanta campaign started during the Civil War) – Acworth and Powder Springs.

Last week-end we decided to go walking around Marietta Square in the center of Marietta. It has several alleys close by – some pretty – some, not so pretty, but beautiful flowers and tall shady trees in the square.

Click on collage to enlarge, then click again on any picture to bigify

It is a quaint, turn of the century square with Victorian era store fronts,

two theatres and several restaurants. One of our favorites is the Australian Bakery, owned by Australian folks.

A dance studio is also facing the square (I peeked in and took a picture.)

People like to take their pets to the Square – dogs, or birds.

The fountain in the center of the Square is an ideal place to take pictures. When we were there last we watched a colorful wedding party.

Lovely antique stores bordering the Square have intriguing and nostalgic inventories where we like to browse. Last time we walked there I had taken some pictures (you can see my reflection in the glass, next to my husband.) I believe I have that Doors album – is it an antique already?

We also went into the antique shops to have a look but mostly to get away from the hot sun (it was over 95 degrees F (35 C.) Below are some of the things we saw – how about the history of jolly old England?

Don't forget to click on collage to enlarge, then click again on any picture to bigify

My favorite item there was the little Art Deco blue lamp on the top right corner in the collage below… but I did not get it.

To get back to my story, on that Monday, Labor Day, everything was very quiet near our home but after we parked the car and started to approach the Marietta Square we could see crowds and the roads blocked. What was going on?

It was the yearly “Art on the Square” event, and we had forgotten it. I was pleased I had taken my camera. People everywhere – it was very warm again, in the mid 90s (35C +.) Dogs were happy to get some cool water and youngsters sat on the fountain taking pictures (as usual) or playing some music. Vibrant cardboard boxes, painted by kids, were on display on the ground.

There was a large array of beautiful art – painting, sculpture, jewelry and unusual objects – we could have spent a lot of money if we did not have a house already full to the brim with things of all kind. We went lazily around and I took pictures (when they let me.) Here is a sample of some paintings:

An artist was making brooms and an assortment of brooms with carved handles was for sale.

Many potters were there, too many to photograph. Here is a sample:

Lovely jewelry

I already have some nice wood pieces that I bought in Montana and Quebec but my husband and I were tempted…

I like this cat painted on tiles,

and also this glass window, reminiscent of Vincent van Gogh's "The Starry Night" - 1889.

What about these lovely sea grass baskets hand-made by an artist from South Carolina? This is a true African American art form which started during the end of the seventeenth century. The Sea Island basket weaving tradition came out of rice cultivation during the 1680’s.

I did not enter the handmade dresses and wraps booth as I only wear casual clothes nowadays.

I took so many pictures but I am running out of space on this post. Here is my last collage

The painting below is the painting that I would have liked to take home and hang where I could look at it and imagine that I was really looking out to sea. It is a nice trompe l’oeil as we call this type of painting in French. It means to deceive the eye, to make an optical illusion. I need more illusions.

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