My husband, Tim, was a fourth grader in San Clemente, Calif., when he met his childhood best friend, Tim Winkler. It was a friendship that has lasted their entire lives, and I love it when they get together and reminisce. They don’t get many chances to do that since Winkler and his wife, Marilyn, live 3,000 miles away in San Francisco.
Last week, Winkler was scheduled to attend a work-related conference in Florida and made arrangements to fly in a couple of days early. We took advantage of that close proximity to meet up with him and Marilyn in beautiful Savannah, Ga.
We secured lodging in the heart of the historic district. Our back door led us down an alley to Bull Street where it connects with Wright Square. If you’re familiar with Savannah, then you know we lucked out on location.
Tim and I arrived a few hours before the Winklers and decided to go to mass at a Catholic church that was only a 30-minute walk from our rental. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and the path took us through Forsyth Park, where the Spanish moss, hanging gracefully from the trees, was a sight to behold.
The park overflowed with moms and dads, children, teenagers, pick-up basketball players and big, loveable dogs racing through the grassy fields. I didn’t spot a single person with their face buried in a smartphone or a tablet. Almost as if those things hadn’t been invented yet.
Pedestrians rule in Savannah — quite literally. Signs warn the occasional motorist that pedestrians always have the right of way. Always. Walking is clearly the most popular mode of transporting oneself in this area. Another throwback to the past.
Once Tim and Marilyn arrived, we headed to a nearby restaurant called Collins Quarter. The sun had set, but the temperature was perfect. Not too hot, not too cold. We snagged the last available outside table and spent the next two hours catching up on each other’s news. And let me just say that dinner was superb. Tim and I split the barramundi fish entrée, which was pan-roasted and covered in creamed lentils. (Ever heard of such a thing?)
We only had one full day to enjoy the historic city, and we made the most of it starting early the next morning. We wandered the many town squares and explored the City Market. We strolled along the riverfront and toured the famous Pirate House restaurant. That tour was conducted by a “pirate” who said “ARRR!” a lot. We learned the structure had been a rendezvous spot for pirates sailing the Seven Seas and was even referenced by Robert Louis Stevenson in his classic novel “Treasure Island.”
That night we settled in for cocktails at an upscale bar called Artillery, so named because it had once been the armory for the Georgia Hussars, a pre-American Revolution state national guard. If you’re ever in the neighborhood, you should stop in there and have a drink. The prices are crazy high, but you can’t beat the unique atmosphere.
For me, however, the best part of our quick jaunt to Savannah was listening to the two Tims rehash their childhood memories. Back in those days, the nearest McDonald’s was some 50 miles away. They rode their bicycles there every Saturday, working their way through orange groves and eucalyptus trees.
Swimming was a fun way for them to spend their summer days. They learned that nothing made a bigger splash than hitting the water from the roof of the house rather than the diving board.
When playing Army, they would leave a “time bomb” (also known as an alarm clock) in neighbors’ yards. They’d duck for cover until it “detonated,” then take it away for another covert mission.
Those wonderful escapades are a throwback to a time when a kid’s imagination and sense of reckless adventure was boundless. And there was simply no better place to hear those memories than in a city like Savannah, where time seems to have magically stood still.
Donna Barton’s column appears every Sunday. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.