Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My Kind of Town

Savannah, GA : Bonaventure cemetery - Embodies the South...
(I originally wrote this for my other blog, but since the whole experience is still so vivid for me, I thought I'd share it here, too.)

Savannah, GA : Madison Square - Poetter Hall SCAD Admissions
Normally, the next word in the line "My kind of town" is "Chicago," and normally, that would apply to me. I grew up in Chicago and have called it, and the area around it, my home for my entire life. But last week, my husband and I were treated to another town that is definitely one of my kind, as they say.
Welcome to Savannah, Georgia, the most haunted city in America. When I first read that claim, I was somewhat skeptical. I know, me skeptical? What's up with that? But I was thinking, how could Savannah possibly be more haunted than New Orleans? Or Washington, DC? Or St. Augustine? San Francisco? Even my own stomping grounds, Chicago? We've had so many disasters here it's not even funny. But when we took a ghost tour of the historic district, well, I guess I found out.
For one thing, Savannah is a massive burial ground. Literally. The city is built on a burial ground and even if you haven't seen the movie "Poltergeist," I'm willing to bet you know that such a site choice does not have the makings for a peaceful, placid kind of place. Secondly, there is all kinds of history in Savannah, from the first encounter with the indigenous people, through the Revolutionary War, piracy, slavery, and the Civil War. There is more history there than you can shake a stick at, and why would you want to? You might accidentally invite something, if you shake a stick at it.
No kidding. The ghost tour Jim and I booked stopped off at some of the more disturbed locations in the city. The Pirate house, where people were literally shanghaid into service on the seas. Or simply murdered, if that's what suited the folks behind these goings-on. The Sorrel-Weed house, that was featured on one of my favorite TV shows, Ghost Hunters. It was the site of the show's first live Halloween broadcast and some of what occurred that night was enough to drive away at least one of the site's employees, we were told. The house on Abercorn that is owned but not lived in. No one is allowed to live in it. Women are even cautioned against approaching the place, it is so malevolent. I'm not an idiot- I kept my distance from the place. Dave, our tour guide, told story after story as we drove through and around the historic district, and encouraged picture taking just to see what would wind up on the photos. (And for the second time in our ghost-tour taking history, Jim captured something in a picture that we can't quite explain. LOVE IT!!!)
But the one, true reason Savannah is my kind of town? People talk about ghosts there the same way they talk about the weather. I have a belief that everyone has a ghost story. The folks there seem to have several apiece, some more than that, and they aren't shy about sharing their tales. There's no hesitation before they launch into their narratives. There is no embarrassment or quick peeks to see if you are looking at them with skeptical eyes or disdainful expressions. No, they just tell you what they saw, when, where, and then go right on with the conversation about restaurants or sweet tea or what have you. And I REALLY LOVE THAT.
We were only there for a couple of nights and we both agree we'd go back in a heartbeat. We both want to know more of the history. I know Jim wants to explore the river and maybe eat more of their amazing seafood. And me? I want as many ghost stories as I can handle. Absolutely my kind of town. 
 (Pictures from the Savannah, Georgia Photo Album website. Top: Bonaventure Cemetery. Below that: Madison Square-Poetter Hall)

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