My Guide to Savannah, Georgia Part II
Okay, today is Part II of my guide to Savannah, GA. If you missed Part I then go ahead and click here to get caught up (even if you already read it, go back and relive it, trust me, it’s just as awesome during the second read through).
All done? Good, then continue reading to hear more about my schoolgirl-like crush on Savannah, GA.
So, after reading Part I, I bet you are thinking to yourself, “Fine, Pax, we get it, you and Steph eat a lot. Wonderful. What else is cool about Savannah?” I would answer that this is a great question (although your tone was rather rude). Honestly, there’s a good mix for everyone. If you enjoy shopping, they have some of the newer stores the young kids are loving today like Gap, but the City Market has the coolest nick-nack and souvenir shops. On our first trip to Savannah we went into this souvenir shop that was having a book signing by an author that lives in the Savannah area named Murray Silver. He was promoting his book Behind the Moss Curtain which included short stories centered in and around Savannah. Steph and I got to talking to him (it wasn’t busy at all in the store) and he mentioned that he had written the book Great Balls of Fire on which the Dennis Quaid movie was based. My ears perked up and I said, “What, What?” I loved that movie. I asked him about writing the book and what it was like. He talked to me about meeting Jerry Lee Lewis and the difference between the book he wrote and the movie. It seems the studios changed the tone of the book completely when they made the movie. The movie was much more over-the-top and tongue-in-cheek whereas the book was a little bit more harsh with Jerry and the tone was a lot darker. He said he may still have a few copies of the book at his home and if he found one I could have it, if I returned the next day. I thanked him and said I’ll be back the next day to see him. Like I said, I returned the next day and *BAM* he slapped the below paperbound tome of awesomeness in front of me (click on the pic for a bigger view):
As you can see, it is the re-issue of his book that coincided with the movie’s release. He also brought the first printing of his book (signed by Jerry Lee Lewis) which had a vastly different but very cool painted cover. I preferred this cover however because I actually remember seeing this book in the grocery store and almost buying it right after the movie came out. After handing me the book, I thumbed through it and noticed, as you can see on the right side of the above image, this book is also signed by Jerry Lee Lewis. I didn’t even notice it at first. So awesome. I asked him to sign it also. Mr. Silver didn’t ask for any money at first but I asked him a few times until he said he paid 10 bucks off ebay for it if I wanted to cover that. “You got it off eBay?”, I asked. He said that when his books are about to go out of print he’ll sometimes log on eBay or amazon and buy up a few copies cheap. Then he’ll sit on them for a while. As for the autograph, he happened to have this book with him the last time he visited Jerry Lee Lewis in Louisiana (which he does every few years) and got him to sign it. I thanked him greatly and several years later I finally picked it off my “to be read” book pile and read it. It most certainly is darker and more serious in tone than the movie. Parts of the book are just sad, really. It’s a fascinating read of the early days of rock-n-roll. Jerry Lee’s story touches on so many other stars like Elvis and the Beatles. It really is amazing. If you are a fan of Jerry Lee, rock-n-roll or a good biography, pick this up. You won’t regret it. Needless to say, I will treasure this book forever.
I believe that I mentioned to you earlier that a lot of the places in Savannah were used in famous movies. “That’s right, you did!”, you say? Okay, okay, I’ll give you a quick Hollywood tour of Savannah, GA (and, again, watch your tone, mister).
The movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, based on John Berendt’s book, showcased many locations in this city, including the Bonaventure Cemetery, which was a very prominent location indeed. There were several scenes that took place in this giant cemetery, but the most famous image of this place is the Bird Girl statue (also the picture in the upper left of this article) that was seen on the cover of the book and the poster of the movie. That statue has since been removed from it’s resting place in Bonaventure and put in the Telfair Museum of Art in downtown Savannah. I guess tourists were tearing up the place trying to get pictures and souvenirs. Interesting bit of trivia for you: Did you know the Bird Girl statue was not the original image on the book cover? The first printing of Berendt’s book showcased a different tombstone for a girl named Gracie (see pic on left). After the book became popular, the grave became a hot tourist spot and Gracie’s family had trouble visiting the grave site without people taking a bunch of pictures. They got the publishing company to remove Gracie’s image from the book and that’s how Bird Girl took her spot. Gracie’s grave is now surrounded by a tall iron fence to prevent trophy-takers (her nose was knocked off or removed at some point). Not long after, Bird Girl became the popular tourist attraction and the family finally gave the statue to Savannah to stop the tourist trap scenarios that plagued Gracie and later started for Bird Girl.
The breakfast diner mentioned earlier, Clary’s, was also a location in the movie. John Cusack’s reporter character ate there in one scene in particular. I think they even mention the restaurant by name. Here’s another pic of Clary’s but from the front showcasing the famous striped awning.
Like I said before, the food here is orgasmic. You need to try it.
Another famous place here that is showcased on the Food Network is The Lady and Sons. It’s Paula Dean’s restaurant and it’s supposed to be really good. We have yet to eat there because you have to show up at like 9 or 10 and put your name in to be seated. The place sells out before noon for the rest of the day. You almost need a whole day to do it. Maybe some day we’ll obtain the focus and drive to get up and go through the process of eating there (but don’t quote me on that). We actually talked to a local who suggested we try Mrs. Wilke’s Boarding House because it’s actually better than Lady and Sons. So that we will definitely do, possibly on our next trip.
Savannah is laid out in various town squares, each with a courtyard in the middle. One of these squares, Chippewa Square, was used as the backdrop for the famous Forrest Gump bench scene.
The bench was fake and placed just to the right of where this picture was taken. That bench now resides in the Telfair museum along with the Bird Girl statue. However, you can still see where they bolted down the bench to the concrete.
Well, I think that about covers it. As you can see, the wife and I LOVE going to this place. Since we live so close we may have to make this a yearly trip (or multiple times a year). I know this was a lot to read, but thanks for suffering through (this was originally going to be one article). Hopefully this helps anyone else who wants to go to Savannah with what to see. There’s lots more I didn’t even discuss here, so try to go if you can.