Two young 50-something females. One big adventure exploring the Americas. Have liquidated everything they own and packed a Saturn Vue with bare necessities to set out on this journey. Planting seeds at each juncture symbolizing their new growth. With an open mind and heart, ready to get a true view of this world.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Visiting the Past in Savannah

The morning is still gray and misty as we pack up and get on the road to Savannah. Highway 17 is nearly deserted and a peaceful and lovely drive heading north. We meet my Aunt Helen at the Greek church in Savannah. I haven't seen her or Savannah (my birthplace) in 17 years and I am amazed at this 80 year old woman. She has not changed one bit - looks 20 years younger and as sharp and funny as ever. We are fortunate enough to get a peek inside the church - of course, I remember it being so much bigger as a little girl and able to view the plaque dedicated to my father nearly 50 years ago. I even meet the priest today, who remembers my father as his Sunday school teacher! And, my mother and her beautiful voice singing in the choir. Ah, the past...

We head to the cemetery, which, of course, is a must in Savannah even if you don't know personally someone who rests there. I plant my sunflower seeds at my father's site and listen to stories from Aunt Helen, some of which I remember clearly, others that bring new memories, laughter and tears. It is a poignant moment and one I will cherish for a long while.

The grounds are busy today, several services abound as we stroll through this peaceful place and visit several friends from my past who are now resting here. I have a flood of remembered episodes from my brief childhood in Savannah, all crystal clear, punctuated with Aunt Helen's commentary. I had certainly looked forward to this time here and it has surpassed my expectations by leaps. Everyone should have an Aunt Helen. The 17 years have completely disappeared - it was only moments ago that I was here.

After taking our time here reminiscing, we move toward the downtown area for lunch at a delightful place housed in an old warehouse, SoHo. It is eclectically decorated with fun art pieces and a mix match of dining tables and chairs. Lunch fare is prominent on the menu, with choices for us coming from the quiche and soup list. The quiche lorraine is out of this world good and what was recommended by my Aunt Helen. The house special tomato bisque not quite up to the expectation the server suggested. But, this was about the ambiance and company. Soup was not important at all.

We ate and talked for a good hour and quite reluctantly made our way back to the church and our parked vehicle. Goodbyes were melancholy. The scheduled time for a Charleston departure already had come and gone, so time now to move on down the road. Huge hugs, thanks for the day and we bid farewell.

Our next destination hostess has been called and very gracious when we explain our delayed exit from Savannah. Cindy, an old friend of Celeste's from radiology technology school, has readjusted our afternoon plans and awaits our late afternoon arrival. No worries as we are still in time for happy hour!

The rain that dissipated earlier as we toured Savannah was beginning again, so plans for sunset and spectacular views of downtown Charleston from high above a hotel perch were not to be had. But Firefly Sweet Tea vodka with lemonade and Low Country Egg Rolls (pulled pork and collards) were just as tasty amidst the rain. When in the Low Country.....oh my goodness! Yum!!

After several more of these luscious vodka drinks, it's time for BBQ. Move over Memphis, Texas and North Carolina, Charleston contends with some pretty darn good smoked pork with a spicy mustard sauce on the side and, of course, collards! Welcome to South Carolina, folks! Home Team BBQ's, Fiery Red, knows how to serve up some down home good food. If we could have lasted, a band was taking the stage a little later in the evening, but, between the rain, drinks, food, travel, reminiscing, you get the idea - we're calling it quits a bit earlier this evening.

Cindy has vied to show us a good representation of her special town and we're off to a fine start. The next day is packed with promised fun, so a good night's rest is calling.


  1. Awwww, Susan - what sweet memories for you! Is Aunt Helen your Dad's sister? I want a sweet tea vodka!

  2. So glad you got to see Aunt Helen and hear that she is still so full of life:) Can't wait to hear about the stories she told you!

    Also, for everyone else- please note that Sylvia Polychronides is still alive, despite the tombstone in the picture. As a child this freaked me out, apparently as an adult it still does.

  3. Thank you so much for the peek at memories and especially for taking a picture of the gravestone. I was so hoping you would do that. Sorry, Ashley, I was just trying to save your Mother and Aunt Kathy some of those final details. Aunt Kathy has a very funny story to relate to that placque! Sounds like you had a wonderful day with Aunt Helen and so happy you were able to view the dedication of the stage to your Father at the Hellenic Center. I sat here crying as I read your wonderful notes and hey, I wouldn't mind trying one of those sweet tea vodkas either LOL


  5. Aunt Kathy's funny story: I was in Savannah a few years ago with two furniture makers; we were organizing an exhibit at the Telfair Museum (noticed THAT wasn't on your agenda!). I of course, wanted to visit the cemetary, so I went out there with these two guys (one of whom, Steve, I didn't really know too well). Since I didn't have Aunt Helen or Yiayia to guide me, I decided to call yiayia (Sylvia) and ask for the exact spot of the grave. As I was talking to her on the phone, we found the grave and Steve noticed the plaque and until I explained, thought I was talking to my dead mother! Or at least THOUGHT I was talking to my dead mother - either way, quite scary for the poor man!

    Also - I agree, EVERYONE should have an Aunt Helen! She's the main memory of Savannah for me, since I don't really remember living in Savannah (we moved when I was three), but DO remember all the visits BACK to Savannah as a child to visit Aunt Helen and our cousins.