Posted by: Mickey Goodman | September 15, 2009

Savannah Sojourn

Savannah PaulaMy daughter and I ogled the sturdy, muscular legs of our handsome Savannah Pedicab Company driver, Lee, who honed his well-shaped thighs and calves by tooling visitors like us around the city of Savannah. Despite the hard work in steamy weather, he says it’s a fun way for students to work their way through the Savannah School of Art and Design (SCAD).

From our perch in the back of the bright red Pedicab (think of a rickshaw powered by a strong student peddling an oversized bike) it was a blast — a unique way of seeing the city without raising a sweat.

“The best part is I get to meet a lot of interesting people,” Lee said conversationally. “I met God the other day. “He said he created heaven and earth but that he denied being the father of Jesus. ‘I don’t know where that rumor got started,’ he told me in all seriousness.”

The journalism major knows that close encounters with the likes of “God,” don’t happen often but he’s gotten a gig with a new publication to write a column about the experiences of a Pedicab driver.

“With more stories like this, you’ll be a hit,” I told him.

The fee for our ride – Tips for Trips – couldn’t be better. Riders pay whatever they think it’s worth.

“Have you ever gotten stiffed?” I asked.

“Not really,” he said, flashing that broad grin again. “Most people are extremely generous.”

I took the hint, but had planned to overpay him anyway. I’m a sucker for a handsome college kid spending the Fourth of July weekend earning tuition money instead of partying at nearby Tybee Island.

We bid Lee adieu and stepped into the beautiful Lucas Theater, a suggestion from my spry 91-years young Aunt Inez. The Lucas is a “must do” on the Fourth,” she told me. “I wish I could come along but I’ve invited 18 in for cocktails that night.”

Aunt Inez was right on. For 20 bucks per ticket, we were treated to a live concert by the Equinox Jazz Orchestra plus a brass band parade to the river where our reserved seating for a fabulous fireworks display awaited.

That night after all the festivities, my daughter turned to me. “Mom, don’t you feel sorry for anyone who is not us tonight?” she said. Coming from the same child who used to tell me repeatedly that I was the “meanest mom in the whole wide world,” it was a priceless moment.

More for the experience than the dose of pure cholesterol, The Lady & Sons, owned by TV personality Paul Deen, was on our list. There was one “small” inconvenience. The restaurant does not accept reservations. Instead, crazies (like us) lined up outside the door before 9:30 a.m. to make a reservation for lunch and dinner. By the time we queued up at the appointed hour, the line stretched for more than a block and we had plenty of time to kibbutz with fellow crazies.

“This is our third time trying to get a reservation, the woman in front of us complained. “If we don’t get in today, we’re throwing in the towel.”

More than the fireworks, more than the food, more than the generous doses of history, the best thing about the long weekend was a chance to share some carefree time with my grown daughter. This year, it was Savannah. Next year, watch out Charleston. The Goodman girls are a’comin.

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Savannah Lore

Savannah, Ga., named one of the Top Ten Destinations by Conde Naste readers,  is a city of contradictions.

  • The  Spanish Moss that drips gracefully from ancient Live Oak trees is neither Spanish, nor moss. Lore has it that this air plant was named because of it’s resemblance to a Spaniard’s long beard.
  • When Gen. George Oglethorpe founded Georgia as the thirteenth colony, he established the bylaws. Slavery was forbidden (for a time), as were rum and lawyers.
  • Citizens were free to worship as they chose — except Catholics because  Oglethorpe feared the Spaniards in South Carolina would overtake his colony.
  • Today, St. Paddy’s Day revelers dye the Savannah River green, the green beer flows freely and citizens of all stripes celebrate with their observant Catholic friends.
  • Eighteenth century mores dictated that if a man glimpsed a woman’s ankle, he was forced to marry her so many historic homes boast dual stairways, one for men and another for women.
  • General William T. Sherman, who burned his way through the South on his legendary March to the Sea, was so taken with Savannah, he decided not to destroy it. He presented the city to President Lincoln as a Christmas gift in 1864.
  • 55 movies have been filmed in Savannah, many on Jones St., named by Southern Living as “The most beautiful street in America.”
  • Citizens can marry in any of the city’s beautiful squares for $150. It’s $250 for outsiders.
  • The Kehoe House, built in 1892 was bought in 1980 by “Broadway Joe” Namath who wanted to turn it into a disco club. Irate womens organization members vowed to burn it down rather than have a nightclub in their midst. An astute business man, Namath sold his $80,000 investment  for $530,000 just nine years later.
  • The smallest house in Savannah is only 200-square feet tiny but is on the market for $279,000. Whatta’ steal.
  • Rumor has it that unsuspecting drunks at the famous Pirate House Restaurant were bopped over the head and dragged through an underground tunnel to the river. When they awakened, these unsuspecting “sailors” were out at sea.
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