(Feb 20, 2018) It’s been two weeks since the Patriots lost the Super Bowl and we headed out on our combination book tour, cross country sightseeing trip. We’re in the Southeastern United States in search of a new place to live due to historically cold, grey and inclement winter weather in Massachusetts, even though 67 degrees is predicted for tomorrow, February 21 says the Weather Channel. We were going to leave on Super Bowl Sunday if the Patriots were not in the classic, but since they were, we left Monday morning instead and mercifully escaped all the football fans and WEEI pundits lamenting the loss, debating the “if only”, “what if”, and why Malcolm Butler was benched.
This much is known: Arlyn Hope Halpern, my wife, has published her spiritual memoir of healing, Dancing into the Light and is speaking at various book clubs, reading from, signing and selling the book. Check out the reviews at Amazon! March 10 she’ll be at the acclaimed Tucson Book Festival in Arizona.
We have spent countless hours meandering and dining on the various River Walks in the Carolinas, most recently in Savannah, South Carolina, and drove over various bridges, including Coosawhatchie River, a tidal river which originated near the towns of Allendale and Fairfax. So many towns and rivers have Indian names like Coosawhatchie not to be confused with the Chattahooche River in Georgia. Further on in our trip, through Florida, we did not make it to the Econlockhatchee River, near Orlando, but sure wish we had. I grew up near Cochituate, a section of Wayland, 16 miles west of Boston. Cochituate means “swift river” in the Algonquin language, and Lake Cochituate, it’s most notable feature, consists of four ponds connected by narrow, shallow waterways and is actually located in the towns of Natick and Framingham along with Wayland. I earned by Senior Lifesavings Certificate there, after two attempts. My mother wouldn’t let me get off the hook after my first try.
Savannah is a truly charming Southern town originally designed to be a classless city, a place of hope and refuge for Britain’s poor in 1733 by British General James Oglethorpe. It’s downtown historic district is beautiful with numerous squares and monuments like one of James Madison, and features old oak trees with Spanish moss draping its limbs. Cobblestone streets at the RiverWalk are reminiscent of Boston’s Faneuil Hall and Portland, Maine.
We learned Savannah is the setting of the famous book “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” and also the home of a number of religious institutions like the oldest black church in North America, the First African Baptist Church, and Congregation Mickve Israel, the third oldest Jewish congregation in America, founded in 1733. Sephardic Jews settled in Savannah shortly after the first settlers came over in 1733 (but curiously there was no mention of this distinction in the otherwise excellent Genteel & Bard historic walking tour which we took on Sunday morning). We did learn that there are ghosts in Savannh, as there are ghosts in New Orleans and other Southern cities clamor imag for the travelers’ attention and dollars.
All this history about early settlers, the etymology of place names and pioneers has given me thought that joining a local historical society may be a future pursuit of mine. What better way to preserve, explore and celebrate our living, cultural institutions, and teach our children that we are all one.