My Life In Savannah
(Savannah, Ga was the first stop of my American adventure. Though my life there was extremely challenging, the beauty of the town and my rich life experience made it an unforgettable chapter of my life.)
1. Savannah, GA
|(Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Yes, quiet and slow. It was south. Nobody was rushing to nowhere.
Outside of downtown was Nature's territory. Driving towards east to Tybee Island, the endless vista stretched all the way to horizon. Swamps scattered here and there, water glittered under the Sun, vaporized in the heat. Sometime, the vapor could be so dense that it became a transparent milk-white sheet, floating ghostly a few feet above grass, giving a mysterious touch to this otherwise a bit empty view. But most of time, the vapor would carry damp heat and penetrated through every inch of air, created that typical sticky humidity of deep South. At Sunset time, the intense color reflected in swamps, turned the whole view into a crimson landscape oil painting. Every time, when this “painting” appeared in my mind, I always heard that familiar song by Ray Charles: “Georgia On My Mind”:
The whole day through
Just an old sweet song
Keep Georgia on my mind …
Savannah is a small city located on the east side of Georgia, about 15 miles away from Atlantic Ocean. It is small, only about 2.5 square mile in downtown area, but it’s old, famous for its rich history.
In 1733, authorized by British government, James Oglethorpe led 114 men, women and children, after months journey across Atlantic ocean, landed in Savannah. Together with local Indians they built the city. Oglethorpe designed the city by himself, made it the first “planned city” in United States.
Savannah was both the first city and the first capital of Georgia. Most buildings were made in 18th and 19th century, and they luckily survived through all these centuries, especially Civil War, during which majority of southern cities were destroyed. In 1864 just before Christmas, after ransacking Atlanta, Union General William Sherman and his army occupied Savannah. Deeply impressed by the beauty of the city, the general decided to keep the city unharmed, and gave it to president Lincoln as “Christmas gift”.
Walking around downtown area, one can hardly not impressed by all those elegant architectures, from Italian or Victoria style houses, to Greek or Roman style buildings and churches. Among all of them, the most outstanding masterpieces I can remember would be the Telfair Museum (Regency style), Cathedral of St. John (Gothic Style), Forthyth park (French style). Of course, the 23 squares scattered in downtown are also inseparable part of this harmonical design.
Savannah was once left behind, almost forgotten. As someone described it as “a beautiful woman with dirty face”. Fortunately, in 50s of last century, several rich and far-sighted women founded “Historic Savannah Foundation”, so Savannah was finally back on its way to revive. Started from 70s of last century, Savannah not only began to draw tourists, also became an ideal place for filming. The well known movies made in Savannah include “Midnight In The Garden Of Good and Evil”, “Force Of Nature”, etc. and the most famous probably would be “Forrest Gump”, which begins with a piece of further drifting above the downtown Savannah.
Savannah College Of Art And Design (SCAD), the school I once went to, is located in the downtown Savannah. Instead of building school in an empty area, this school purchased existing buildings of city, one after another, so the project of constructing the school became project of preserving the city. This process ended up that the whole downtown area is SCAD’s campus.
SCAD was found in late 70s, so it’s development was perfectly synchronized with Savannah’s tourist industry. I still remember vividly when I worked as a greeter in SCAD, there were always tourists asking me: “Where is that bench Forrest Gump sits in the movie?” “Where is the bus stop that Forrest Gump waits for bus?”
However, even though I lived Savannah for almost 4 years, I had not learned her rich history until years after I left her. Throwing myself into a New World without much “preparation”, my life in Savannah was extremely challenging. Yet I survived. Not only that, when looking back, I found my life there was the most unforgettable chapter of my “American adventure”.
(To be continued)