Thursday, May 04, 2017

Sources for the trilogy
enerally my life has been immersed in history as perhaps I took too seriously the slogan over Savannah’s main library doors, "Make Books Thy Comrades".
My trilogy is a work of fiction based on my study of history. Some of my general studies for this book took place at the Georgia Archives in Atlanta and the Georgia Historical Society in Savannah. I covered most of the intriguing writings of Augusta attorney and historian Heard Robertson. The elegant Bee Hive Press publications on Georgia history were another valuable source. Mr. Charlton Hudson's writings including references to Heroes of Hornet's Nest by Louise Fredrick Hays inspired me about the American Revolution in the south. Then go to the Georgia Archives in Atlanta and visit all the cards in their collections of the people mentioned in those works.
I also owe thanks to the Daughters of the American Revolution. They keep the flame alive that reminds us of the sacrifices of men and women who courageously took the risk of being mere traitors but by persistence and against all odds proved to be heroes and heroines.
In his Autobiography, Benjamin Franklin related his experiences with the Reverend George Whitefield, founder of Savannah's Bethesda Orphanage. I used Bethesda as a refuge for Mary Willoughby during her pregnancy in Savannah Spell. Historians know it was never used as a refuge for unwed mothers but was rather a magnificently successful orphanage for young males. The freedom of fiction allowed me to bring mention of it into the period of its origin.
Many of the interesting anecdotes of the region's history are repeated as having occurred in Savannah, Charleston and/or Augusta so that it is difficult to be certain of the true origin. One example of that is the story of the production of silk from the worms of the local mulberry trees being used to provide the queen with a silk gown. I've heard Charleston boast recently of that; whereas all my life it had been claimed by Savannah. Other events also have references claiming their occurrence in more than one place. And of course the reference of drinking (sorry) urine is found in most siege accounts from middle ages on.
Specifically some of my other non-fiction resources, which readers may find interesting include but aren't limited to:
Abigail Adams: An American Woman. Charles W. Akers. Little Brown and Company. Boston, Toronto, 1980.
A Devil of a Whipping: The Battle of Cowpens. Lawrence Edward Babits. University of North Carolina Press. Chapel Hill, 1998.
An Early and Strong Sympathy. William Gilmore Simms. Edited by Guilds and Hudson. University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, 2003.
Appeal to Arms: A Military History of the American Revolution. Willard M. Wallace. The NY Times Book Co. NY, 1975.
The Baron of Beacon Hill A Biography of John Hancock, William M. Fowler, Jr. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 1980.
Caty: A Biography of Catharine Littlefield Greene. John Stegeman, Janet A. Stegeman and Harvey H. Jenkins. University of Georgia Press, Athens, Ga., 1977.
Daniel Morgan: Revolutionary Rifleman. Don Higginbotham. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1961.
From Savannah to Yorktown: The American Revolution in the South. Henry Lumpkin. University of South Carolina Press. Columbia, SC, 1981.
Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation. Cokie Roberts, William Morrow, NY, 2004.
Georgia: A Short History by E. Merton Coulter. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1933.
John Paul Jones: Sailor, Hero, Father of the American Navy. Evan Thomas. Simon and Schuster. NY, 2003.
Mon Cher Papa: Franklin and the Ladies of Paris. Claude-Anne Lopez. Yale University Press,  New Haven & London, 1966 (2nd printing).
Perdita: The Literary, Theatrical, Scandalous Life of Mary Robinson. Paula Byrne. Random House, Inc. NY, 2004.
Storm Over Savannah: The Story of Count d'Estaing & the Siege of the Town in 1779. Alexander A. Lawrence. University of Georgia Press. Athens, 1951.
The Private Franklin: The Man and His Family. Claude-Anne Lopez and Eugenia W. Herbert. W.W. Horton & Co. Inc., New York, 1975.
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. Edited with Introduction by Louis P. Masur, Bedford Books of St. Martin's Press, NY, 1993.
The Children of Pride; a true story of Geogia and the Civil War. Letters of Jones, Charles Colcock. Edited by Robert Manson Myers. Yale University Press, New Haven, 1972.
The Gamble Collection (call number 975.8), Live Oak Public Libraries, Savannah.
The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution 1763-1789. Robert Middlekauff. Oxford University Press. NY & Oxford, 1982.
The King Who Lost America; a portrait of the life and times of George III. Lloyd, Alan. Doubleday, NY and London, 1971.
The Life of Major James Jackson. William Foster, Sr. University of Georgia Press. Athens 1960.
The Southern Experience in the American Revolution. Edited by Jeffrey J. Crow & Larry E. Tise. University of North Carolina Press. Chapel Hill & London, 1998.
Memoirs: My Various Travels and My Sojourn in the Creek Nation. Louis LeClerc Milfort. Narrative Press 1972.
John Stuart: Memoir of the Indian Wars and Other Occurrences.McClain Printing. Parson1969.
Travels Through North & South Carolina, Georgia, East & West Florida.Bartram, Wm.London 1792.
Virginia Historical Society, 428 North Boulevard, Richmond 23220. Minutes of the Virginia Legislature.
The Colonial Records of North Carolina V I-X. Edited by Wm. Saunders. N.C Archives, Raleigh.
The Colonial Records of the State of Georgia. Edited by Allen Daniels Candler. State Printer, Atlanta.
Letters of Benjamin Hawkins 1796-1806. Edited by C.L Grant. Beehive Press, Savannah, 1980.

Newer Posts


Books are disappearing not only in bookstores but libraries as well. That leaves us with fewer, if any, independent bookstores and libraries’ budgets, usually funded by local governments, are purchasing instead rows of computers. I fully expected Savannah’s imposing Bull St. Library to change the motto over its main entrance to now read “MAKE COMPUTERS THY COMRADES”. Somehow it just doesn’t make the same awe inspiring inscription as “Make Books Thy Comrades”.
Computers are certainly a wonder of modern convenience. Not only have they replaced what a former DeKalb neighbor called her suicide hotline, the Sears catalog’s 24 hour shopping, but can masterfully handle massive amounts of data efficiently. Beware though of the details of products for sale and the sources of computer data .The former is generally replaced with customer reviews easily manipulated by writing one without guarantee they are neither an employee of the maker nor competitor. The latter generally ignore footnotes and all references. One is left to merely hope it wasn’t gathered by those ‘researchers’ commonly found in Malls with their clipboards and questions. And don’t get me started on that most popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia.
Athens is the home of the University of Georgia, first public university chartered (1785). (North Carolina takes issue with that claim as UNC was the first to actually admit university students (1789). Atlanta has its state rival (publicly funded) Georgia Tech (1885). Colleges and Universities provide captive customers for bookstores, of course, but academic books are their bread and butter. Since the South built most colleges and universities inland, the coastal towns were deprived of these state funded academic bookstores just as their residents were of the opportunity of a nearby place of higher education.
Despite this, while wintering in Savannah 2017, I found time to read and so set out to browse Savannah’s independent bookstores. I was most familiar with Ester Shaver’s since I had my first book signing there and was a docent for Ester’s home a couple of years for the annual Savannah Tour of Homes and Gardens. Ester has since sold it, remarried and moved from the city. However, I didn’t make it that far. On Liberty Street I passed my first store, The Book Lady, and went in. I was very familiar with the building as I studied there in the 40s when it was the dance studio of Dorothy Davis. That acute attack of nostalgia was cut short when the first book I saw was “The Damned Don’t Cry” (not to be confused with the totally unrelated Joan Crawford movie of the same name). The main ‘character’ was a house despite the plethora of human characters. The house had personal significance to me but not nearly as much as it did for the main female character of the book. I bought it on the spot, turned and started home to read it. Again however, I didn’t make it that far. I sat on the first park bench I passed in Colonial Cemetery and only put it down when chores, company or eye fatigue called.
The book was out of print for 50 years because it was definitely not politically correct. However it was an excellent book and I highly recommend it. As one of my visitors who noticed it said, it would hurt a child to the core to read such descriptions of his ethnicity. I agreed. Can’t imagine why any child would wish to or be allowed to read the book. It had bigotry loud and clear but as I pointed out at least it was equal opportunity bigotry. It left no class, ethnicity nor gender un-offended. It was a snapshot of a time when the whole world practiced wholesale bigotry. It was an excellent read.
Friday, March 26, 2010

Wednesday, April 05, 2017


There are many variations of locales/scenery, customs/lifestyles, accents, foods, history and cultures in Georgia and Georgians. My recent winter hiatus from my current home in the Appalachian foothills to the coast reminded me of some of those contrasts.

The oddest and most puzzling among them I noted long ago. The beds on the coast always seem to be twice as high as the one’s upstate. Don’t ask me why because I haven’t a clue… there just seems to be an unwritten rule. Many of the coastal beds would be easier to get into if accompanied by an old fashioned two or three ladder steps similar to those sometimes seen in Libraries to reach the upper shelves… but rarely are they provided. The highest bed I’ve ever slept in was in S.C. at the old Anchorage, an antebellum mansion overlooking Beaufort Bay on Bay St. It was also the noisiest since it, a genuine antique, was stuffed with corn husks not, as a Hilton Head Island tour guide once erroneously told tourists, softer Spanish moss. If Spanish moss were used you’d be sorry because it is notoriously infested with red bugs.

Those high beds are also much easier to make-up come morning as they don’t require the make-upper to constantly bend over as you’re struggling with the linens. Of course that latter difference disappears if, as my grandson taught me after his year in a military boarding school, you make the bed up while still in it. He developed a very ingenious method of doing that which I, now in my later years, often use. An added skill neither advertised nor charged for by boarding schools, is that pupils in them must exercise and develop amazing levels of creativity in order to evade following the rules without actually breaking them… thus cleverly avoiding punishment.

Other notorious difference is the upstate attitude about building, land value and bookstores. On the coast they consider anything built above the ‘fall line’ to be viewed as disposable. Since I’m too wordy those are left for later blog(s).

Saturday, March 18, 2017


With both the Ides and St. Patrick’s Day behind us I was looking forward to the arrival of Spring. However, upon returning to north Georgia from our milder coast I was in for a surprise. Seems Mother Nature decided not to start winter here without me!! As flattering as that might have been my ready-to-bloom iris plants were appalled. We had cold, rain, freeze as if it were January and not the middle of March. I stayed inside until it returned to the 60s which was yesterday.
I could have used a volume of Walt Whitman to read but alas and alack, as they say, my personal library consists of mostly history books. I do have one book of poetry by my late nephew but his writing, though quite excellent, tends to prod one to despair as well as deep thoughts. An example comes to mind: 
“I climbed upon a steepled church                                                                                                          to view the world from such a perch.
So high was I when I did fall
that nothing now I see at all.
Quite dead am I beneath the wall.”

Not light reading by any means. Then I recalled from memory a Whitman-like poem written by my late mother and used it as my mantra until the wintry blasts passed. I had to rely on memory because if she ever published it, I don’t own a copy. As I recall it went like this:

“There’s a hustle and a bustle now among the forest folk
Old Mother Nature’s spoke to them that’s why they have awoke.
She said, 'Get up and dress yourselves or ere you will be late.
I saw a nest of Robbins today so Spring is at the gate'….”

It goes on for many stanzas but that beginning is all I recall. It helped. If any forest folk see this you might want to heed her words.

Monday, March 06, 2017


Having been brought up in Savannah and spent many years there since, I knew what to expect when I chose it over a cruise to Barbados or a couple of months on the US Gulf coast. It would be a generally mild winter with a couple of frigid, i.e. below freezing, nights but with speedy warm ups. It did not disappoint. Of course my primary residence north of Atlanta also had a milder than usual winter but still the change of venue was good.

Savannah has changed though since I left it in 2005/6 ish as I suppose my living in Roswell this decade+ has changed me. It wasn’t a holiday time but the city was always packed with tourists. Tourists originally came in the hopes of getting a peek at the, some might say odd balls portrayed in the best seller, Midnight in the garden of Good and Evil, but I prefer the term unique people who make up the population. And, of course, they come to see the unparalleled architecture and notorious city planning of our founding fathers. Wlliamsburg, Va. has similar architecture but it is a replica, built in the 20th century, as I  recall with Rockefeller money. Only Charleston and Beaufort in S.C. have the authentic architecture and though they have other historical features they lack the gorgeous parks called squares by natives (though they’re really ovals).

The tourists are so numerous in fact that the tables have turned and the city’s population, or at least those that dare the impossibility of parking and very slow and POLITE drivers in the Historic District, gape at the outlandish get-ups of tourists. Don’t these people have mirrors in their hotel rooms? It has become a city where tourists come to marvel at other odd-ball tourists… whether they know it or not, I‘m not sure. Still it works… though at first I thought surely someone is paying these people to parade by and entertain me.

It was a very restful visit. I felt as if I were living, through time travel, in about 1930. For those who wish they‘d lived in the olden days when life was slow, I recommend it. The PEDESTRIANS, carriages, bikes (not as many as Asia but getting there) and two-wheeled-platform gizmos are the predominant means of transport though others which challenge Rube Goldberg apparatuses are also in use. As mentioned the few cars are so polite you become accustomed to drivers who gesture to each other, “you go” and get the response, “no, after you.”

Which brings me to my moment of alarming realization: I was indeed home but forgot what it really was like. I’d been to the grocers and parked at my front door. Carrying my groceries across the sidewalk, I paused when a very rapidly walking student passed but abruptly stopped and spoke to me in shock, “M’am, how far do you have to carry those? I’m late but…”
I interrupted him saying, “Just up the step to my front door. I’m fine but thank you.”

Sadly there were no tourists to witness that exchange between two obviously rare but authentic odd ball Savannahians.

Thursday, March 02, 2017


After a two month winter retreat to a warmer climate, I’m home again… jiggedy jig! The return trip was exhausting and as I was returning from east Georgia to north of Atlanta part of the reason was at one point I was surprised to find myself in South Carolina. If you know your geography you know there is no valid reason one should be in our northern neighboring state when making such a journey.

After unloading my “luggage” (primarily one piece of actual luggage and mannnnny large plastic containers) I rested and then got to the chores that accumulate when you vacate your primary residence for months: picking up month’s worth of snail mail from the US Postal Service; going online to pay accumulated bills and checking my emails. My snail mail was delivered to me in a huge plastic container which nicely matched my above mentioned ‘luggage’ of such containers but for the United States Postal Service lettering and logo on the side. I’ve been home three days and am yet to reach the bottom of it.

Checked my emails which I had attempted to mange while on vacation by buying a gadget called “a tablet” (of course it wasn’t a REAL tablet but an electronic one) and a mobile WI-FI. In this user's hands it was not a good pairing so I wasn’t able to. One of my email boxes had well over 500 unread… let alone answered, emails.

I’m managing to whittle down these chores and came home with fabulous material for new blogs. Will be posting anew and often once I’m able to catch up.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


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Friday, December 16, 2016


The good old days photos and newspaper clippings brought back from my recent Savannah visit are still spread pell-mell on my dining table awaiting my sorting. Thanksgiving Day I and visiting family were entertained going through them so they have served some purpose. Since I’ve taken a closer look and found some items might be more interesting as examples of the so-called GOOD old days in light of the continuing world disasters we’ve since come to accept on an almost daily basis… or perhaps it is just my passion for history.
Going through copies of old G Southern U newspapers from when I attended, there were whole editions I’d put away to later clip and save. One such was a 1955 front page headline “’Dear Brutus’ cast set For Spring Production” (Don’t ask me what the choice of Capitol letters indicates since I haven’t a clue.) I was in that play so I clipped and read it. An early paragraph caught my attention and brought a flood of memories that spanned several decades: “Darwin Humphrey, freshman, Vidalia, has been chosen to portray Mr. Dearth,’ a good man who has gone wrong, and in his heart despises himself for it’.” The last paragraph deals with yours truly thusly: “In the role of Mrs. Purdie will be Nan Waters, senior Savannah. Mrs. Purdie is: ‘a simple young wife, wistful, who knows her husband is fond of Joanna’.” The only thing I remember about that play was being criticized in my portrayal for what I thought was showing simple and wistful facial expressions as I stood behind a tree spying on them.
Fast forward to the 80s when I was listening to my car radio and a rather well known Georgia humorist, Lou Grizzard, was doing a bit. I was shocked to hear him remark that another award winning journalist Georgian, Darwin Humphrey had several years before (1978) been murdered in the Jonestown, Guyana masacre. That was the first I’d heard of whatever became of my long ago stage buddy. How could I have missed that fact as closely and vividly as TV coverage was of that horror show when over 900 members of Jim Jones ‘s Peoples Temple commune were also killed?!
Simple! His professional name, used for years while covering the Viet Nam War including the fall of Saigon and as NBC newsman who won four Emmys and DuPont/Columbia Award, was not Darwin Humphrey but Don Harris.

Sadly, some good old days were not so good after all.