The Old and the New
In this blog I’ve mentioned the many large homes being built along the coastal areas of the Southeast. The historic homes are equally impressive. Dramatic porticos and wrap-around porches speak to humid summers, elegant balls, Civil War lookouts, and, in some earlier dwellings, loyalist or revolutionary fervor.
Back on the Intracoastal Waterway, we wound around the bends of twisted rivers and creeks of the Low Country. We spied the tall tanks of the Savannah sugar refinery way across the marsh--close as the crow flies, but miles away by ancient river.
We docked at the marina on Isle of Hope, Savannah, an island populated with tree-lined streets, historic homes and multi-generation families. (At the marina, Echo II was again dwarfed by mega-yachts.)
In previous years, we attended Thanksgiving family reunions on large estates in the Savannah area. The feasts included oysters roasted over an outdoor fire as well as turkey and sweet potato casseroles. This year, we arrived too early for the big feast--cruising on a slow boat being an unpredictable sport. Instead, Pope visited cousins Elliott and Charlie and a great aunt.
Tour guide Jesse entertained us with stories of Georgia’s roots as a British colony banning slaves and alcohol—later overturned as settlers faced starvation or financial ruin-- and landowners exhuming graves to prevent remains from being carried off in hurricanes. Noble Jones, surveyor and influential figure in the original Savannah settlement, built a fine home at Wormsloe in the 1700s and, once slavery was legalized, a thriving business growing indigo for blue dye.
During Jones’ watch, the Battle of Jenkins’ Ear was fought here in the marsh. In response to Jenkins’ claim that the Spanish had both cut off his ear and destroyed their supplies of illicit rum, the settlers rose up against invading Spanish troops, ensuring continued loyalty to Britain.
In the evening, we borrowed a marina courtesy car to drive into downtown Savannah. My goal was to buy Velcro at JoAnn’s Fabric, to hand-sew a mosquito net for the boat. The excursion was in stark contrast to our time on historic waterfronts rich with tales of exploration, adventure, and accumulation of wealth. Strip malls and suburban shopping centers outside of Savannah’s historic district quickly dispelled the romantic fantasies of history books and jolted us back into 21st-century America.
Velcro mission fulfilled, we escaped back to the boat and a return to pleasant dreams of elegant estates and extravagant southern lifestyles.