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Savannah Rambles 

Architecture walking tours of a unique American city

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Clear Ramblings on Mother's Day.

Posted on May 14, 2012 at 2:15 AM Comments comments ()
It was early Sunday morning, Mother's Day, when I met quite the handsome couple for my Savannah Architectural Ramble on Johnson Square.  During the initial introductions the husband was a bit guarded about his heritage, saying he was from Washington D.C., his accent said otherwise, but I let it go - no point making a guest feel uncomfortable.  His bride was more open, speaking of her Chilean homeland in a Spanish cadence which bordered on musical.  I was snapped out of a momentary trance by the realization that there could be a communication problem here as I was about to talk for the next two hours about Savannah's architectural heritage in American English using American concepts.

As has been the case many times during the last three years, it was all for the good.  Occasionally, the husband would repeat a phrase in Spanish for her, but for the most part, she reacted to my stories the way most people do, so I could tell I was getting through.  Knowing I've connected gives me a great feeling of satisfaction, something I really was not expecting when I started down this road as tour guide a few years back, especially as it pertains to our international visitors.

I have toyed with the idea of brushing up on my conversational Spanish to help me with my tours.  To be honest though, the only language common among my customers so far has been English.  The strangest part has been the realization that the old sitcom standard of the American who  just speaks slower and louder when he realizes the other person does not speak English is really not that far off the mark.   For me, the ability to speak English clearly actually seems to be more important than speaking another language simply because there has been such a wide variety of languages spoken by my customers.

For this I have Mom to thank. (bet you didn't think I could tie this back in to that first sentence did you)  As a teenager I found her corrections to my speech annoying at best.  Now I hear her voice as I correct myself, usually before speaking.  While I am far from being a guardian of the English language, and my dear friend Karen, known affectionately as "grammar slammer" will readily attest to that, I do want to thank Mom for caring enough to take the time with me so many years ago.  I think of her every time one of my customers mentions their appreciation for being able to understand the way I talk.  

Oh, and by the way, as soon as finances permit I still plan on brushing up on the Spanish.  Feliz dia de la madres! ( Happy Mother's Day!)


Memorial Day

Posted on May 29, 2011 at 9:51 AM Comments comments ()
    Memorial Day was originally observed on May 30, 1868 when flowers were laid on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. It's meaning was expanded after World War I to include the sacrifices of American soldiers throughout it's history.  Therefore, I was somewhat disturbed when a couple of ladies from New York on one of my walking tours made the statement: "What do people in Savannah do this weekend since you don't observe Memorial Day"?  My answer: "We observe Memorial Day like all Americans should"  As a native Ohioan living in Georgia, I find regional animosities tiresome at best and mostly based on the ignorance most often expressed by those too culturally shallow to travel well.
   Savannah's monuments to fallen soldiers are many and offer a glimpse into the very soul of the place for those willing to open their eyes.   It usually comes as a surprise that the only Confederate monuments in the downtown National landmark Historic District sit within a wrought iron fence in the Forsyth Park Parade Grounds to the far edge of the Landmark District. The downtown is actually dominated by monuments dedicated to such heroes as Nathanael Greene, Casimir Pulaski, and Sergent Jasper.  It was the spirit of the American Revolution which was enthroned here. This must have been a bit confusing to occupying Union Soldiers realizing both sides had the same heroes.
    Today, monuments to  contemporary conflicts such as World War I and Vietnam can also be visited along with the most recent entry on River Street to those who fought during World War II.  If anything written here is new information, maybe it's time you took a few moments to read the inscriptions provided at these sites - wherever they may be.  A little quiet remembrance of those who have ensured our freedoms might be good for what's ailing us as a country right now.  Just a thought.

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