St. Patrick’s Party Week

StPatsWeek

It’s that week again; St. Patrick’s Day Week.

St. Pat’s is not a one day event in Savannah, it’s an entire week. It starts with the typical Greening of the Fountains and the arrival of Port-O-Potties.

Seven days ahead of the festivities it’s perfectly acceptable to dress up in green body suits, dye your hair bright green, wear green flashy hats, and of course start drinking green beer.

Savannah is a big party town and this is the biggest party event of the year. It’s even bigger than the Fourth of July and New Years Eve. People come from everywhere to drink, party, and watch (or walk) in the parade. Being Irish isn’t a requirement to have fun, but having lots on money is because everything in town costs twice as much during St. Patrick’s Day Week.

And there’s twice as much stupidity going on; walking, talking and driving while intoxicated, swimming in the fountains, peeing on the azaleas bushes, fighting for a place to watch the parade, smacking the mounted police horse’s butts, thinking it’s a good idea to run across the tops of the Port-O-Potties and the list goes on and on and on.

Why did the Irish come here in the first place if there wasn’t any green beer to entice them? The first nine Irish settlers came to Savannah to escape debtors prison. Later the Irish arrived to work jobs that the plantation owners didn’t want their valuable slaves to do. They built the roads, railroads, and dug the canals. And for all their contributions to this fine city it’s only right that we fill-up and lift-up our to-go party cups and offer-up the second largest St. Pat’s parade in the whole US of A.

With all this party and craziness going on I bet you’re wondering if I’ll be in City Market dressed up like a leprechaun. Well, the answer is no freaking way! This town is off- the-hook crazy with out-of-towners. Like most locals I’ll be as far away from Savannah as I can get!

Party On All y’alls Crazy Irish!

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The Gribble House Ax Murders

Every town needs a gruesome gory ax murder and Savannah, not to be out done by any other town, had a Triple Ax Murder!

The diabolical crime was committed on December 9, 1909 at a Mrs. Gribble’s shabby cheap rundown boarding house on West Perry Street.

Carrie Ohlander, a 36 year old deaf lady, lay in the hall; her bloody head crushed and her throat cut. Eliza Gribble, 76, Ohlander’s crippled mother, was found dead with a smashed skull in a back bedroom. Maggie Hunter, 35, had a busted skull, but was still alive and lying at the front door in a pool of blood. She died three days later.

A bloody ax, found in the house, was believed to be the murder weapon. The crime happened at 2:00 in the afternoon on a busy street and, odd as it was, there were no witnesses. There was no sign of a struggle.

How could this horrendous crime happen without anyone seeing or hearing anything? Was it a robbery-gone-wrong or was it a revenge killing? No matter what it was, it was murder and mayhem in true Savannah style.

Police stomped all around the crime scene, so did attorneys, reporters and morbid curiosity seekers. Everybody and anybody was welcomed in to see the dead and give their assessment of the fiendish assaults. Evidence was compromised. Gossip, hearsay, and suspicious behavior was reason enough to haul somebody off to jail. They let lose the Bloodhounds, a $1,000 reward was posted and anybody with a bloody ax was suspect. (I guess they forgot the murder weapon was left at the crime scene)

There wasn’t very many bloody ax welding killers around and eventually the suspects narrowed down to three. 1) Maggie Hunter’s third x-husband JC Hunter from Guyton who turned out to really be David Tayler; a horse thief, a bigamist and an x-convict. 2) William Walls, a family friend and a possible lover of Maggie. 3) John Coker. A cocaine addict neighbor said John Coker did it, but it was discovered she lied and wanted the reward money to buy herself two gold teeth and a diamond ring.

All three men denied the killings.

On her deathbed Maggie told Reverend John S. Wilder who the real murderer was, but he never divulged that information and nobody asked.

Matters got more complicated and weird when rumors spread that Maggie Hunter had a premonition about her pending demise. The morning of the murders she told a friend that ‘Bloody work would be done.’ And when an insurance salesman tried to sell her an insurance policy for JC she told him, ‘I won’t live long enough to collect’.

Apparently in Savannah a death premonition is evidence enough for a conviction. It was decided the crime was not a botched robbery, but a sinister premeditated murder by Maggie’s vengeful x-husband.

JC Hunter was sentenced to death by hanging. He went to prison, but wasn’t hanged and instead spent his time working as a waiter in the Confederate Veterans’ Home. In 1923 he was pardoned and returned to Savannah as a free man.

After the murder and mayhem, the boarding house opened again. But typical of Savannah’s restless dead folks, they just wouldn’t stay dead. Living persons who rented rooms in The Gribble House said blood stains reappeared on the walls where the three women were killed and misty apparitions wandered the halls.

The Gribble House was demolished in 1941. The lot is now a car barn for Old Town Trolley Tours and they say the portion built over the scene of the triple bloody ax murders is haunted.

This is a True Crime Story and I didn’t have to make any of it up because sometimes truth is stranger than fiction; especially in Savannah.

Fish Karma

BlogArtFishKarmaI was doing my power-walk around the neighborhood. I was fashionably attired in my stretchy pants, scrunchy top, florescent headband, moisture absorbent socks, and impact power sneakers. I had my iPod velcroed to my upper-arm, ear buds jammed into my ears, and I listened to a motivational power audio book.

I was power walking, power thinking and doing everything in power time. I was full of power!

I reached the lagoon at the mid-point of my workout that I designated my power break. I stretched my legs, flexed my arms, rolled my shoulders, and I was about to arch my back when, only two feet away, a fish flew out of the water and landed on the rocks by the lagoon.

I stopped my power everything and stared in amazement at the little colorful tropical fish. It was absolutely beautiful! It flopped around trying to find water and then, having lost the battle, it lay still gasping for life with little fish lips.

I removed my ear buds and stepped closer to the edge of the lagoon for a better look. My assessment of the dire situation was: this fish would die. It did not have the strength to return to the lagoon. The hot Georgia sun would soon bake it as crispy as potato chip. Or a bird would swoop down and gobble it up. The only way this fish would survive would be by intervention.

There was no doubt in my mind what I had to do; save the fish.

I removed my power sneakers and my moisture absorbent socks. I climbed easily down the rocky embankment and gently scooped up the brightly colored fish. I admired it in my hand for only a moment before I carefully placed it in the water. “Go back where you belong little fishie,” I said.

I guess I expected a gratitude smile bubble or at least a goodbye flip of its tail, but it darted off quickly and disappeared. I did not really need a thank you. I was content and happy knowing I did the right thing.

As I continued with my power walk my steps slowed to a casual walk and I pondered the true essence of fish karma. I had been in the right place at the right time to make a difference and although my action seemed simple to me, it had made a huge difference to another’s life.

Good fish karma is the ripple effect of doing something small, but the outcome is enormous. Take time to make a difference in the world.

The Ghost of Alice Riley

AliceRiley

In Savannah, under 9 W York Street, is the burial place for Alice Riley. But apparently, according to local tour guides, Alice doesn’t always stay put and rises up from the dead to haunt Wright Square. She was hanged on Jan 19, 1735 in the gallows for her participation in the murder of William Wise, of which she naturally claims her innocence, and that is the reason for her unrest.

The murder of William Wise was carried out by Alice and her boyfriend Richard White. Alice and Richard were poor Irish immigrant servants who worked for old sickly William Wise (the villain with the long white hair) on Hutchinson Island. They were tired of tending to his bathing needs and decided to steal his wealth and run away to Charleston. Richard strangled him with a handkerchief and Alice finished the job by drowning him in the bathtub, but they discovered that William Wise was poor and instead of making it to Charleston, they ended up in jail.

Richard White was hanged almost immediately, but Alice was pregnant and the judge decided she would be executed after the baby was born. She gave birth to a son, and even as she claimed her innocence, she was hanged. Her son died six weeks later and is buried beside her.

So, why does Alice Riley’s ghost haunt Savannah?

They (ghost specialist) say she is searching for her lost baby (buried beside her) and her ghostly form appears to pregnant women and mothers with infants because she wants to steal their babies.

They (ghost specialist) say it took her three days to die hanging in the gallows, and when she finally did die, her body mysteriously disappeared (under 9 W York Street).

They (ghost specialist) say Alice Riley cursed Savannah because she was innocent and Spanish moss won’t grow on a tree where innocent blood has been spilled. I’ve been in Wright Square many times and there isn’t one tree without Spanish moss on it! Which makes me thinks she might not be so innocent.

I love Savannah ghosts stories – I’ve even made up a few of my own.

Be Careful… or you’ll end up in one of my books

BlogArtBooks

Writing humorous ghost stories lends itself to strange eccentric characters involved in bizarre situations that can only happen in a place like Savannah. This is where I find an amazing source of stories, ghosts, and people, and if the truth be known, I must confess that a few of my characters have the unique personalities of my friends, family, acquaintances, or complete strangers.

I don’t describe any people in my books (leaving that to the imagination of my readers). But because of a character’s mannerism, dialog, and actions people will ask, “Is that me?”

On a few occasions I’ve picked up oddball characters from conversations with others. The legend of the Foot Sniffer was told to me by a friend and he swore it happened to him and that it was true. How could I not add this wacky legend into my books?

When I’m fashioning a character, and it’s obviously based on someone I’m closely associated with, I will “warn them” and ask if it’s ok. I offer up a few story details and assure them their character will not be offensive, ugly or mean, but there are no guarantees they won’t be a ghost.

Derek-the-Hog-Killer, Kevin from Medford NJ (Zombie’s Y’all!) and Danielle and Mark (Heels & Souls) have been forewarned as well as McSnyder and Wilhemina Quimbley (Claire Buoyant).

So, if you know me at all, be warned, a small part of you or an adventure we shared, might end up in one of my books. It’s all good, except maybe that time we did what we shouldn’t have done, but luckily we didn’t get caught. (You know who I’m talking about)

The Parking Spot

ParkingSpotI’ve been reading the book, The Secret and learning about The Law of Attraction. The Law of Attraction states: Everything that’s coming into your life you are attracting into your life, and it’s attracted to you by virtue of the images you’re holding in you mind. It’s what you’re thinking in your mind that attracts things into your life.

It seemed plausible, so I thought I would give it a try.

I had a doctor’s appointment at the hospital and parking is always a problem. I focused on finding the perfect parking spot for when I got there. All the way over in the car I thought about my perfect parking spot that would be close to the entrance and in the shade

I asked for the perfect parking spot, I believed it would be there, and I would receive it.

I drove into the lot closest to the building because I knew my spot would be in that lot and behold… my spot was waiting for me! It was the closest one that could ever be, under a shade tree, and it was open!

I pulled right in, parked and locked the car. I walked into the building and smiled happily all the way. I was thinking “This stuff really works“. I was filled with positive thoughts and took time to give thanks and gratitude to the universe. I was not only excited with my parking spot, but with the endless possibilities that I now believed The Law of Attraction could bring to me.

After my appointment I came out, got in my car, and pulled out of my great parking spot. As I left the lot I passed a sign that I didn’t remember seeing on the way in. The sign said: Reserved Parking. Physicians decal parking only.

Ooops!

In an odd sort of way The Law of Attraction did work. I envisioned the perfect parking spot and it came to me. Needless to say I quickly drove away to escape attracting a parking ticket.

Dead Man’s Fingers Roll’n Around Savannah

Dead Man’s Fingers Roll’n Around Savannah

I bought advertisement space on the back of a Pedicab for May-June-July to help generate interest in my book. Maybe it will increase books sales, or maybe not, but it sure is fun to see the ad zip by.

Below are excerpts from Dead Man’s Fingers where pedicaps are mentioned.

* * * * *

     A pedicab was a three-wheeled bike with a carriage seat on the back. A person, usually a healthy young college student, pedaled passengers to their destinations for a minimal charge. It was not uncommon to have two or more pedicabs engaged in a heated race across town with their excited passengers encouraging them to “Go faster!”

* * * * *

     Lisa had to make up for lost time and her feet could not get her to Wright Square fast enough. She decided to seize a pedicab, but the only one nearby was being used. She did not let that foil her plans. To get a pedicab from someone else required her to be anything except a nice young lady, but that was not a problem since Lisa was no longer being polite. She asked the driver on the seat if she could borrow his pedicab.

“Hell, no! I got people in the back,” he answered.
“I just need it for a moment. I will bring it back. The people can get out,” Lisa said.
A lady in a pretty green dress with a silk flower in her hair and two little girls, Thing 1 and Thing 2, were seated comfortably in the pedicab.
Lisa asked the lady to get out.
“No. The girls want to go for a ride around City Market,” Debbie Nyman told her.
“It is better to walk,” Lisa suggested.
“No. We want to ride. Get your own pedicab.”
“There are no more pedicabs available.”
“Sorry, this is ours.”
“I’m in a hurry.”
“Then run fast.”
Lisa didn’t have time to argue about it anymore. She dragged the lady out of the pedicab.
Debbie Nyman kicked, screamed, and held onto the bike, refusing to let go. She smacked Lisa on the shoulders and back.
It seemed hopeless until Lisa realized she needed a better strategy to acquire the pedicab. She gripped Thing 1 and Thing 2 and whisked them out of the pedicab.
The girls jumped up and down, crying while their mother continued to smack the pedicab thief.
Lisa pushed the driver off the pedicap seat and hopped on the bike. “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” Lisa called behind her and pedaled as fast as she could to Wright Square. She rang the little bell on the handlebars for everyone to get the hell out of her way.
Lisa left behind an angry lady, two crying children, and an irate, foul-mouthed, yelling pedicab driver.

* * * * *

     The police cruiser screeched to a halt. Terrence and Rookie B. Cool got out just as a pedicab crashed into their back bumper.
Lisa was thrown off the pedicab and tumbled into the rose bushes. She stood up, stunned, dazed, and tangled up in thorns and pink rose petals. She had an 8 1/2 x 11 invitation to the art show at the Jepson stuck on her chest.