Archives for posts with tag: growing up in the south

Mom’s favorite place for me to take her for any occasion was our very own Lake Rabun Hotel & Restaurant (www.lakerabunhotel.com)  but especially for Sunday Brunch! So, whenever a newbie comes to the my mountain home (Southern Comfort Cabin) to visit, I  take them for their great Sunday Brunch.

I’m  truly blessed to have many wonderful Chirrens and Grand Chirrens, especially after  my daughter, Ava, passed (avascorner.org). My Chirrens keep in touch with me and visit when possible from all over the country and beyond. I had two of my Chirrens meet for the first time! It’s been so exciting! They really are twins! Mirjana (from Canada) has been with me learning Southern beginning in Jacksonville, Jekyll Island, Savannah, my mountain cabin with Little Five Points being her last stop, of course. Stacey, who I adopted upon meeting fifteen years ago, came up to meet Mirjana (her “sister-by-another-mother”). We’ve easily recognized we’re all of the same Gypsy, Bellydancing Singing blood! How could we not be when Ava brought us all together?

As my Chirrens come up for a visit, the tradition has become for me to take them to Lake Rabun Hotel’s Sunday Brunch. Today was the day! Yum!

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Path entrance Lake Rabun Hotel

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Front View Lake Rabun Hotel

Deck Picture

Lake Rabun Porch Dining

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Lake Rabun Hotel Witham Room

100 plates

Local “farm to table” foods

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Always good eats!

For more information, please visit http://www.lakerabunhotel.com or email Josh Addis, their General Manager, at joshaddis@lakerabunhotel.com to make your reservations to stay in one of their newly renovated suites, have dinner or to have one of their signature drinks!

It’s all good and a fabulous way to spend your time up here in the Northeast Georgia Mountains…and make new friends!

HAPPY TRAILS…until we meet again!

 

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Savannah, Georgia…deeply steeped in history beginning with its founding in 1733 and the women who were responsible for much of it remaining mostly intact…is a breathtakingly gorgeous city worthy of a much longer stay than Mirjana and I had. But, we gave it our all even to the very minute we left.

We finished our whirlwind tour with none other than the infamous Shannon Scott walking tour of the Bonaventure Cemetery mostly made famous by a book/movie a couple of decades back, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” We who have made that trek to Savannah for decades know, or thought we knew, a great deal about this Cemetery and it’s residents but Shannon Scott’s ability to entertainingly weave this base knowledge with his obvious hunger to find the secrets behind the curtains in his guided tour (www.shannonscott.com) is certainly a treat worth doing. In the two hour tour, Shannon not only gave his audience the insider view of how the Bonaventure Plantation became a cemetery but how Savannah lives changed by the persons who now reside within its hallowed grounds.

I wish I could have made notes during Shannon’s tour for this writing, but I was totally captured by his vibrant storytelling; of interjecting the secrets of its inhabitants; and how strangers’ lives were forever changed by these now gone but forever alive people in history. Shannon’s sixteen years of Bonaventure touring experience and love for its history and art is most evident and entertaining. Take the tour; absorb its ambiance and his knowledge as it’s so worth the investment.

As pictures speak volumes, I’ll just tell of my adventure with photos.

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Bonaventure’s Custodial House at the entrance.

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Bonaventure gardens

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Elegant chiseled white marble art forms.

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Walz was the most famous of the artists who took wooden mallet & chisel in hand to create these standing beauties of art history.

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Different symbols on these iron slave grave markings indicated the person’s standing at the time of death…slave or freedman.

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Angels among us.

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Gracie is the story of a young girl who won the hearts of many just by being herself, playing daily in her parent’s hotel and surrounding area. Walz was new to Savannah and hoped to get his monument sculpting business started when a grieving father walked into his shop, handed him a picture of a young girl and turned and walked out without a word. The rest is history.

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Ode to Gracie. 

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Johnny Mercer was born a musical savant and into a wealthy, established Savannah family. His early talents were reflected in his ability to pick up and play any musical instrument. He wrote volumes of songs loved by all: “Moon River,” “One For My Baby.” “Blues In The Night,” and “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” It was in the Mercer House in Savannah where the story of murder and mayhem took place in the 1980’s touted story written in the 1997 book “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.”

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Italian artists and historic influences evident here!

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Flowing fabrics of marble reminded me of Michelangelo’s hand.

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All roads in Savannah eventually lead to the River! Nice ending!

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Wow! The ultimate in intricate, elaborate gateways.

Words of wisdom for your summer visit to Savannah’s Bonaventure tour are: dress code is cool & comfortable, bring water, tennis shoes over sandals because of sand and ants, hat for shade (or find shade) and listen to every word Shannon imparts. He definitely gives his all in this mystical, magical tour the likes of which I’ve rarely seen in a cemetery!

HAPPY TRAILS…until we meet again!

It’s interesting and pivotal, at this very specific time in my life and in history, for PBS to air the Ken Burns 10-part series on Vietnam.
Donna Woodward Friend SrPic 1965

“Before” – Senior Picture, 1965

Why was watching this series pivotal for me? Well, in 1965, when many of my school chums were being shipped off to fight an unwanted battle on Asian soil, I was fighting my own “Vietnam” battle of being a pregnant 17 year old on the streets to fend for myself, engaged to the wrong man, met the right one who was MIA in Vietnam, married the wrong man and gave birth of my son, Carl. The other layer of the story was my father was so insanely angry at me for getting pregnant he came looking for me with a gun to kill me. Yes. Kill me, my fiancé and my baby.
Early that 1965 magical insane summer, my fiancé, Ray, joined the Army. That bitter sweet last night with him before he left for Bootcamp, held all the images of a tearful teen 1965 movie…pain, love, hurt, joy and mixed messages of a future with a scrambled past. We talked about what would happen if I became pregnant but neither of us truly believing it could/would happen. We, obviously, were delusional.
It was during the months after Ray left, that I started questioning my choice of a future and husband. I had a good job working part-time as a Legal Secretary for two general practice lawyers and going to Georgia State University while living at home. I wanted more independence so my oldest brother co-signed on a loan for me to buy my first car, “George.” It was a black 1960 Karman Ghia convertible. It had no heat if you weren’t moving forward but I sure loved dropping that convertible top on those waning summer days! That’s when I realized I just wanted to be engaged and not married. After all, I was in college,  working and feeling alive.
It was one of those wonderful summer nights when I was driving “George” around with the top down with a friend that I met Dave. Dave was a 6′ 2″ drink of well water who had a loving spirit, was well educated and in the Army. He was the catalyst for my break up with Ray. My time with Dave helped me further realize how I was cutting myself short in a more mature way…like a real future with a career and Dave.
And, although both Dave and Ray were in the Army, only one went to Vietnam.
And, again, I lived yet another, more painful last night…but, this time with Dave. He filled my heart with a future and a terrible sadness of loss later multiplied by my yet unknown pregnancy. It was a during those months that I later had an older friend tell me I might be pregnant. It was such a shock to think I might be! That’s weird, I know, especially knowing I was was raised on a small farm but I truly never connected the dots because I lived in a teen haze of invincibility as most do/did.
My letters to Dave (which numbered many) went unanswered. I was glued to the news to see what was happening 10,000 miles from home.
In the meantime, my first gynecological visit was to find out I was seventeen and pregnant. My life started falling apart at the seams at that moment (and hasn’t stopped in the 50 plus years since).
As soon as I got home from the appointment, I called Ray at the Base and told him of our predicament. We secretly plotted an elopement. He was stationed in North Augusta, South Carolina where one only had to be eighteen to get married without  parental consent. I was one month short of eighteen.
So, armed with a “doctored” birth certificate,  I drove “George” to North Augusta, SC, picked up Ray at the Base and immediately headed to the JP’s office to get married. Well, my fraudulent birth certificate  didn’t pass the muster of the Judge’s secretary. I came home pregnant, sick and worried out of my mind as to what was going to happen next. Ray went back to Ranger training camp.
It was that next weekend when my “Vietnam” started.
The next morning after I came back from my visit to SC, I woke up with sick. Dad guessed I was pregnant and immediately flew into an “Incredible Hulk” kinda’ rage.
Because our failed marriage attempt, Ray had gotten leave again to go to Atlanta so we could plot our next elopement steps. Mom came into my room and sat on my bed next to me and proceeded to tell me Dad was convinced I was pregnant. I broke down and said I was and that Ray and I had tried to get married that weekend but had failed because the the parental consent thingie. We cried and hugged. She asked if I wanted to get an abortion. I told Mom from some outside source, in an out-of-body kinda way, “This child is meant to be born.”
Mom then.told me about Dad’s rage and to pack some things and not come back until she told me it was okay. She said for me to call her later and, if Dad answered the phone, to hang up. She knew Dad and his rages all too well. What she didn’t know was that Dad  was already blowing a gasket much like Vesuvius. When I called, she answered. She said she’d never seen Dad this crazy and that he’d  gone to his arsenal, gotten a gun or guns, and was hunting for me and Ray. He was going to kill us both. Well, all three of us.
We hid all night in “George” in a parking lot behind some buildings on Fourteenth Street. I’ll never forget how scared and cold we were.
With the help of some older “Hippy” types who I’d just met, Ray and I had a place to hide for a few days. Mom, in the meantime, got the parental consent  paper signed I needed for Ray and I to marry.
I drove to SC again; Ray and I married on his nineteenth birthday.
I was seventeen, alone, pregnant, living with those Hippy folks near 14th Street in a run down apartment and working for those lawyers. Those Hippy folks took me in with open arms, fed me, gave me a baby shower and helped me find an apartment I could afford.
And, in all fairness to my siblings, they were living their own stories, living in other cities and/or were caught up in their own lives, nightmares and futures. I know Mom fought hard to keep Dad from killing me. She told him he’d better leave town until he calmed down enough to be a father and grandfather. He headed West and stayed there until right before my son, Carl, was born.
How did I survive the first of My “Vietnam” years? I truly don’t know because my part time job working for two lawyers as a legal secretary typing petitions and handling a two man law office paid me an astonishing rate of $.75/hour. It took every penny to pay the $36.63 car payment and $65.00 rent in my Hippy-ville apartment overlooking Tenth Street near Piedmont Park where I walked my leashed rabbit down to the park after work.
TO BE CONTINUED…