I first encountered Savannah, GA, on a two-week family road trip. I may have been an opinionated kid at the time, but I was intrigued by this lovely gem of a town. With its elegant architecture and lush squares replete with live oak and Spanish moss, one could imagine a more graceful era, a more genteel frame of mind. As a relatively uncouth northerner, I’d never seen anything like it before; it was charming and very special.
“Savannah,” I thought, “someday, I’ll come back to you.”
Many years later, as the editor of a trade magazine, I returned to Savannah to cover a convention. Still mysterious and remarkably preserved, it developed that Lady Savannah had some hidden sorrows behind that opaque veil of hers. Our group had the good fortune of hosting celebrated Savannah author, Murray Silver, as the convention’s keynote speaker. It was Silver who revealed to us his town’s poignant past; it’s rumored that Savannah is encumbered with more than her fair share of ghosts, destined to haunt the town as the tragic consequence of Yankee occupation during the Civil War.
On a cool, misty evening in February, Silver walked with some of us through the cobblestone streets downtown, sharing stories of historical haunts, daring us to look into windows and take photographs of ghostly orbs – fleeting souls invisible to the casual eye. It was a fascinating experience, affecting believer and skeptic alike.
If we’re observant travelers, we learn a great deal about a town’s past and present, its residents, and its own unique place on the map; the impressions stay with us, and they become a part of who we are. And on a third visit, there to see friends, it occurred to me that few places seem to call me back the way Savannah does. I bear her imprint, and suspect that I’ll be haunting Savannah again.