3. Street Passion
Life as a “street artist” wasn’t easy. There were good and bad days, occasionally I could go home with nothing. The working condition was rough. Beside the uncomfortableness like heat or coldness, humidity or mosquitoes, the most troubling condition was weather. Georgia’s weather was so “capricious” that sometime it would rain instantly in the middle of my portrait process. At this moment I usually moved into stores, whose employees were kind enough to let me staying there for a little while, until I finished my works.
|(Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Another time after I finished several drawings in a row, a handsome 10 year-old boy stood in front of me, and his grandma told me that they missed my drawing a few months ago, because the waiting line was too long and they had to catch the boat. I was so moved by their coming back so I made my mind that I must do my best to make him happy. The boy sat still for the whole 15 minutes, endured not only heat but also mosquitoes’ bite. I admired his endurance, and was greatly satisfied after I saw his heartfelt smile when I showed him the drawing. Oh yes, I should also remember all those good sense of humor, which turned my “hard working time” the most fun time I ever experienced.
Summer was long and exciting, and winter was quiet and short. Most street artists and musicians were temporarily retired from their “business” during winter. So from late November to next February, River Street would look cold and bleak, except a few warm days that brought Ted, me or couple of other musicians to stay there for a few hours. However, spring came back early in South. Around March, temperature became warm enough for outdoor activity, some “early birds” would show up on the street again, enjoying the brief cool weather in South.
The most exciting event during early spring would be St. Patrick’s Day. Every year during this holiday long weekend, the entire River Street would be blocked to prohibit motor vehicles from entering. From mornings to night, all day long, you would see crowds with “green”, and everybody smiled to each others and dancing together, celebrating this special Irish festival.
Savannah is a small town, but it hosts the second largest St. Patrick Day parade in the world, only seconded by the one in New York city. There is historical reason behind this fact. The history of Irish people in Savannah is almost as long as history of Savannah itself. In 1734, the second year after Savannah was founded, a boat with 40 Irish people was forced to dock in Savannah river bank due to the bad weather. Despite of their Catholic religion, they were welcomed by General Oglethorpe. Though their life must be hard because of difference of religions, they managed to blend in community, survived and became first Irish immigrants in Georgia. The larger influx of Irish immigrants in Savannah came a century later. First time in early 19th century, during the railroad construction, when many Irish people came here became cheap labors; second time was around mid 19th century, during Irish famine, when many Irish people came to Savannah looking for a better life.
|1996 on River Street, with a|
(To be continued)