The Savannah Cotton Exchange

The original Savannah Cotton Exchange was built 1872, but the structure has been added too and renovated a few times so who knows who was doing what, when and why. The current two-story building is a combo construction of ballast stonework on the lower River Street level and brick on upper Bay Street level. In the olden days the ships unloaded the shipped merchandise from the river and moved it to Factor’s Walk where factors (buyers) made purchases at the exchange.

The Savannah Cotton Exchange was a symbol of importance of the cotton industry in Savannah and was originally called King Cotton’s Palace and by 1880 the area was known as the Wall Street of the South. In the 1920’s the boll weevil did some weevil-evil-cotton-eating devastation to the cotton industry and the old exchange closed.

Today the building serves the tourist industry with retail stores, antique shops and a tavern. The living people enjoy shopping, dining and drinking in the Cotton Exchange, but the dead folks also seem to like hanging around.

Renovations were done after a fire in the building and it sort of stirred up some ghostly trouble. Now people hear footsteps when no one is there and the sounds of crying babies. In the tavern there are reports of flying bread loaves, deadly ice-cream scoopers, unexplainable falling objects and the volume on the radio randomly changes.

A ghostly woman in a long white dress has been seen descending the staircase and another ghost is thought to be Oompah, an old clockmaker who liked to visit the tavern for his morning coffee. The strong smell of coffee sometimes fills the tavern before anyone has turned on the pot.

On Bay Street the impressive old Savannah Cotton Exchange has a beautiful red terra cotta winged lion fountain in front surrounded by a fence with medallions of poets and presidents.

The original terra cotta lion, which dated to 1890, was shattered by a car that sped north on Drayton Street, jumped the curb at Bay Street, knocked down a section of wrought-iron fencing, obliterated the winged lion, snapped a lamppost in half, soared over a pedestrian walkway and came to a grinding halt at the front steps of the Savannah Cotton Exchange.

The most amazing part of the accident was that the driver was a native Savannahian, not a tourist and nobody died, which was fortunate otherwise there might be more ghosts haunting the old Savannah Cotton Exchange.

 

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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It’s a known fact that people in Savannah love to party, and everyone knows the best time to throw a lavish over-the-top stylish party is Christmas. And nobody, dead or alive, could throw a better Christmas Gala than Jim Williams at his home, the Mercer-William House, on Montgomery Square. They say it was “a party to die for”.

Every member of Savannah’s high society wanted an invitation to Jim Williams’ elaborate Christmas party. It was the biggest social event of the year. Women would wear lovely gowns, men dressed in tuxedos, and almost everyone showed up fashionably late. The decorations were extravagant, the food delicious, and the music played to perfection by choice musicians. The second floor ballroom of the Mercer-Williams House was ablaze with lights, music, dancing, and laughter. It was a true Savannah holiday party done just right.

Jim Williams was made famous from John Berendt’s non-fiction book, Midnight in The Garden of Good and Evil. (in Savannah we refer to this as The Book). Williams, an antique dealer of substantial wealth allegedly shot his young lover, Danny Hansford in the library.

A game of Clue was solved quickly with Danny’s dead body and Jimmie holding the smoking gun.

Jim Williams was tried four times for the murder, but claimed self-defense and was set free. Nobody knows what happened, and most folks believe Williams was guilty, but Hansford was trouble with a capital “T” and sometimes, people just needed killing. It was justifiable homicide.

After his final overturned conviction, Jim Williams decided to throw one of his famous Christmas parties and it was the last party he would throw as a living person because he died the next month. And…not only did he suddenly drop dead, but he died next to the same spot on the library floor where the poor unfortunate Danny Hansford was shot.

Some believe Hansford got his revenge by scaring Williams to death.

Since Williams’ death, he’s been seen in full apparition form, walking up and down the halls of the house. It is also said that if you pass by the Mercer-Williams House on the night of the annual Christmas party, you’ll see the house ablaze in a ghostly light as misty partygoers drift through the rooms.  And you’ll hear the distant sound of revelers attending a Savannah Christmas Ghostly Gala.

Jim Williams Christmas party at the Mercer-Williams House was indeed “a party to die for”, and if you’re already dead, then apparently it’s “a party to live for!”

Have Yourself A Very Merry Ghostly Christmas!

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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Casting The Gift Net

I enjoying fishing in the tidal creeks around Savannah, but buying bait (shrimp and mullet) can become expensive. I decided to do what the locals do and learn to throw a cast net to get free bait that God so graciously put in the water for me.

Casting a net is no simple task. It requires practice to acquire the skills needed to toss out a perfect circle, tighten it up and haul in the bait.

To learn this skill I watched YouTube videos, asked questions, observed other cast netters, and I practiced, practiced and practiced until I was able to cast out my net and catch live free bait to go fishing.

The next trick was finding the bait to catch. I learned a bit about catching mullet (little 1-3″ fish) and found a creek that provided a good supply, but I had not been able to find a source for catching shrimp. I really wanted bait shrimp, but I couldn’t find any.

My perfect mullet spot was popular not only for me, but for another cast netter and often he’d be there first and he’d get all the mullet or we’d cast our nets in the same place and scare all the bait away. One day I got so mad that he was in my casting spot that I said, “forget it, I’ll find another mullet hole!” and I went to a different place.

I didn’t have much faith in this new place because it was not a good environment for little bait fish, but I cast out my net and to my delight and surprise… I pulled up a cast net heavy with shrimp! After only a few more casts I had a bucket of bait shrimp!

This wonderful new spot became a shrimp goldmine throughout the fishing season.

I’m grateful to the fisherman who forced me out of my favorite mullet hole because that was how I received the wonderful unexpected gift of the perfect shrimp casting hole.

Sometimes you never know how or where gifts will come to you, so my advice is Go forth… cast a wide net… see what ya get… and be thankful for cast net gifts.