The two-letter word “no” may be small yet powerful. It can show authority or create conflict. Take a moment to think about it. Remember grocery shopping with small kids as you entered the “Aisle of Temptation” lined with candy and toys just before you reached the check out counter? We all experienced or witnessed a “no” turn into “yes” in order to avert a youngster’s temper tantrum. Being a softy, today I am “blessed” with my daughter’s dog, Zoey and her pig, who I affectionately call “Bacon Bits", all because as a Dad I didn’t say “No!”

Now, imagine my fear when my dear wife, Patty, informed me that she booked us at a time share presentation in Hilton Head, South Carolina. Would I be able to say “No?” For weeks before the trip, I practiced daily, no, No, NO, but in reality, was I ready?

Whenever we travel, Patty and I take time enjoying the scenery, towns, history and of course the food. So we stopped south of Savannah, off I-95 and Hwy 17 at a restaurant named “the Local on 17” run by a vet named Jay and his wife. Displayed outside was a Model Truck. As we entered the building, the first item to catch attention is a table set up for “Missing Military Members,” a reminded to all of the sacrifices made for our freedom. After ordering, I began reading the history of the area on the place mat about Savannah and the

surrounding area.

After the fall of underground Fort McAllister to the Union Army, Savannah surrendered without a single shot being fired by either side once negotiations to spare the city were agreed upon. Though spared from destruction by General Sherman, Savannah remained in a depressed economic state until Henry Ford discovered the area in 1925. Soon Henry and his wife, Clara built a winter home bringing industry and jobs to the community. Ford brought the same ingenuity he introduced in his auto production plant, opening a saw mill and other businesses, thus reinventing the dormant economy of the area.

Eventually, the Ford’s owned 85,000 acres, including Fort McAllister, and built over 600 homes for his employees. (Fact: Ford’s method of auto production lowered the average price of cars from $2,000 to as low as $250 per unit. By mid 1920’s more than half the worlds cars were Model T’s built by Ford. Ford vehicles were the main source of transportation used by bootleggers during prohibition).

I could go on, but the food arrived. Started with the best Green Fried Tomatoes we had ever eaten followed with our first Shrimp and Grits. Cautiously we tasted a batch of collard greens in a cream sauce. Wow! Everything was delicious so we made it a point to mark our map for a return visit on our way home.

We reached our furthest destination at Hilton Head, South Carolina where we settled in for a four-night stay. We sampled several restaurants including Shull Island’s Dockside and Boathouse. Both had outstanding seafood at reasonable prices. Our final day was spent at Harbor Town where we browsed the stores, listening to music while sipping a rum runner. Later, we gathered under a 300-year old oak tree for a free concert by Greg Russell who has been performing at that very spot for over 40 years.

Next day, I’m proud to say, I was able to say no. So we headed back to Savannah, my favorite city, without a deed to a condo. But before leaving Hilton Head we stopped at a huge outlet mall. The “Mall Gods” worked their magic for their tenants as the skies opened with rain trapping “us shoppers” inside the stores. It was a costly experience, so next time I’ll carry my raincoat with me.

Savannah is a must see city whether you are young, old or somewhere in between. It was founded in 1733 when James Oglethorpe set foot ashore with 120 settlers from England. Meeting with Chief Tomochichi, a 7 foot, 83-year old native from the Yamacraw tribe, a site for the City of Savannah was chosen. Due to its high elevation, the location was perfect for defense against the Spanish who were in Florida, plus the area fit Oglethorpe’s 24 city square design for defense of the city. In the center of each square was a park with 20 still existing. The other four have fallen to city development (i.e. jail).

Oglethorpe had four “no” items in the bylaws: 1) No Catholics, for they might be sympathetic to the hated Spanish who shared the same faith, 2) No slaves for this would create lazy plantation owners, 3) No lawyers, people were smart enough to represent themselves, and 4) No rum or spirits, only ale and wine were permitted.

We booked a trolley with Old Savannah Tours, an excellent choice. Along the 16 stops, through the old section, historical characters hop on to tell of their part in history. Here’s a short list with a few facts not in any particular order: Cotton was the number one economic product in this area transported by train and boat. Storage houses line the port as well as the train depot. The private Massie School was started in 1850 with free education to all, regardless of race. The First African Church was built by slaves at night. Drilled in the wooden floor design were holes for ventilation to hide runaway slaves. At a later date, Martin Luther King tested several of his famous speeches at his church before delivering them on a national basis. John Westley started his Methodist movement in Savannah. Juliette Low started the Girl Scouts of America in 1912. Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross in 1881. The church of St. John the Baptist became a cathedral in 1850. In 1898, a fire destroyed much of the structure. It was quickly rebuilt and reopened by 1900. Its magnificent stain glass and statues glorify the 1,000 seat structure making it equal to many of the churches found in Europe. Johnny Mercer, writer of over 1,400 songs including Moon River, was from Savannah.

Colonial Cemetery is a must to visit. Convienently, it is located next to the field that was used for dueling. Gravesites date back to pre-Revolutionary War times.

Over 70 movies were filmed in Savannah including Forrest Gump. There are over 300 restaurants in Savannah. Though we would have loved to visit them all, we made only a few: First the famous Pink House that recently reopened after a fire in December of 2018. This is some fine dining with great service. They actually travel to Key West to purchase a brand named rum inspired by Earnest Hemmingway, “Papa’s Pillar Rum.”

At a less formal eatery, the Pirate’s House, we enjoyed the food and were intrigued by the history. Seems there were several underground tunnels running from the docks to hidden cellars under the building. On many occasions, citizens of the town would disappear never to be seen again. On one such occasion a policeman went undercover at the tavern to investigate. He awoke finding himself on a pirate ship headed for China. Two years later, after a clever escape, he returned to Savannah to close down this kidnapping scheme. The pub remained open and the pirate stories continues though the kidnapping was stopped. At a later date, author Robert Lewis Stevenson visited the pub. Intrigued by the stories he rented a room upstairs where it is said he began his novel “Treasure Island.” After publication, a first edition of the book was given to the owner of the pub. He carefully removed the cover and sketches posting them on the wall where they remain hanging today.

Our last evening found us in Forsyth Park. Seems it was Prom Night as close to a dozen young couples displayed their elegant gowns and suits as they posed for pictures. Another part of the park had a “Fragrant Garden” designed for the blind.

Next morning it was time to leave beautiful Savannah giving me the opportunity to end this story before I exhaust the News Leader’s ink supply.

Till we are on the road again, “CHOW,” oops I meant “CIAO.”

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