Tag Archives: savannah

St Patrick’s Day 2015 – Seein’ a little green

This is always a busy week here in Savannah. St. Patrick’s Day is like a mini-Mardi Gras for this town. For 12 years, Mrs. P and I organized, set-up and hosted a parade-watching “tailgate party” in a downtown square. This was a very intense project. When we first started doing this in 2002, the idea hadn’t caught on yet. You could show up at six or seven in the morning and settle into a prime spot. By the mid-2000’s, that changed for the worse. In recent years, it has involved getting downtown before 3 a.m. and picking a spot. We were not allowed in the square until 6 a.m. so we and other early-risers would line the perimeter of the square and negotiate with each other about where we would all set up. In a perfect world, it would be “first-come, first-served,” but the world is not perfect. Negotiating with the early risers was usually very civilized. However, there were always some folks who would roll up at 5:45, drop their stuff in the street and start pointing to one of the prime spots (on the perimeter) that someone else had claimed four hours earlier. At 6 a.m. the police blow a whistle and the rush would begin. It was usually all over in about two minutes. Then we would sit around, waiting for the sun to come up and trying to stay warm for the parade started at 10:15.

This was our party in 2013.

This was our party in 2013.

Last year, Mrs. P fell and broke her knee a couple of weeks before the event, which ruled out our ability to organize a party. No one else picked up the baton. Our children were both working and none of our friends had any interest. This year, Mrs. P was ready to get back in the game, but, again, we had no help. One 60+ year-old couple is simply not enough of a team to compete in the pre-dawn madness.

So, instead, Mrs. P and Poolboy put their heads together and decided we should have a parade viewing party at our house. (There is no shortage of live coverage on the local TV stations.) So that we did.

We’re not used to hosting parties that start at 10 a.m. on a weekday, but it all worked out. Everyone brought something to contribute to the food table. We had Bloody Marys and beer to drink, and a breakfast casserole, ham, fried chicken, potato salad, pasta salad, squash casserole and even green grits (a Savannah tradition.)

When the parade coverage ended around two in the afternoon, most of our guests retired to the patio (where many had spent the day anyway). The temperature was 85 degrees, which made it feel almost like summer.

Almost like a summer Sunday afternoon.

Almost like a summer Sunday afternoon.

The pool water wasn’t so warm, but that didn’t stop some of the children who were there. More power to them.

A couple of crazy ones.

A couple of crazy ones.

Hey watch this!

Hey watch this!

Beats me.

Beats me.

Mrs. P was trying to talk up getting back into the game in 2016, but she wasn’t getting a lot of encouragement. Depending on our children’s work schedules next year, we may be able to field a force sufficient to compete in the zero-dark-thirty land rush, but we’ll just have to see how that goes.

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Playing tourist here at home

We had a fun time last weekend. My sister, Maggie and her next door neighbors, Mac and Candy drove down from Greenville, S.C. for a “history weekend.” Maggie’s husband has taken a new job in New England, so he was out of the picture for this trip.

My sister is very lucky that she has just great friends living right next door to her. Over the years, we have gotten to know Mac and Cindy fairly well. At one point a few years ago, Mac and I were comparing notes and we discovered we had very similar interests in Civil War and World War II history.

Cindy joined my friends and me on our tour of the Louvre during our first trip to Paris in March 2012.

 And the whole gang of us piled into the car for a history trip to Gettysburg in 2010.

We have been talking about doing a “history weekend” here in Savannah for several years. I’m glad we were able to finally pull it off.

We started with a tour of the National Museum of the Eighth Air Force. This is a cool museum with a focus on the WWII air war over Europe.

Mac and me at the 8th Air Force Museum.

Mac and me at the 8th Air Force Museum.

On Saturday, we did a walking tour of downtown Savannah. I played tour guide, and although I’m not as professional as the experts, everyone seemed to enjoy it.

Maggie, Mrs. P and Cindy waiting for the guys to get back to them.

Maggie, Mrs. P and Cindy waiting for the guys to get back to them.

Myself, Mrs. Poolman and sister Maggie at Colonial Cemetary.

Myself, Mrs. Poolman and sister Maggie at Colonial Cemetary.

After a seafood lunch at Tubby’s on River Street, we dropped Mrs. P and Maggie off at our house. Mac, Cindy and I headed out towards the beach and Fort Pulaski. The fort is run by the National Park Service. They do a great job. We stayed only a fairly short time, since it was late and the weather was starting to look ugly, but it seemed like our guests really enjoyed it.

Mac and Cindy at Ft. Pulasi

Mac and Cindy at Ft. Pulasi

We finished the weekend off with a low country boil at our house. I think everyone had a good time. If they did not, they sure faked it well. We need to start planning our next “history weekend.” Charleston, anyone?

Passing of my evil twin

We had a weird experience last week. Mrs. Poolman and I were over at Poolboy’s condo for dinner when Mrs. P’s cell phone rang. It was one of our friends asking if I were OK. There was a rumor sweeping the hospital where they work that “The Poolman” had died suddenly that afternoon. I pinched myself and then asked Poolboy a question to make sure I was still really there. (Remember “The Sixth Sense” with Bruce Willis.) Once I confirmed I really was alive and breathing, I started wondering which of the other “The Poolman”s in town had deceased. The next morning I discovered it was the many I jokingly referred to as “my evil twin.”

We were never very close, but we had a long, and incredibly coincidental relationship.

We first encountered each other in 1984. I was a TV news director in Nashville. I read in one of the trade journals that another “The Poolman” had recently been promoted to news director at a station in Kansas City. I wrote him a letter (This was before e-mail, twitter, Facebook, etc.) to congratulate him.

“I hope you do well, so anyone who confuses us will also think well of me.”

Several months later, we met in person at an ABC affiliate news director’s meeting. A couple of years after that, again at a news directors’ meeting, we met on a sidewalk in Salt Lake City. Our conversation turned to family history and, to both of our surprises, we discovered we grew up with a few blocks of each other in the Pittsburgh suburb of Mt. Lebanon. He was about six years older than I, so we weren’t there at the same time. By the time, my family moved back about the time I was starting high school, he was already off at college.

We ran into each other from time to time in the world of television news. In 1992, I moved to the CBS station in Savannah. In 1995, I returned from lunch one day to find people in the newsroom acting strange towards me. I pulled someone over and asked them what was going on.

“Well, Poolman, your secret is out. We all know you are moving across town to the competition.”

“What?”

“They announced it to the staff this morning. The Poolman is the new news director at the NBC station.”

I knew immediately what was going on. So for the next five years My Evil Twin and I competed directly with each other as rival news directors with the same name at TV stations in the same town.

We both left our respective stations around the same time in the early 2000s, and both stayed in Savannah. My Evil Twin, aka “the other Poolman” ended up with two tours of duty at the third station in town. So we continued to run into each other until he got out of the business entirely a couple of years ago.

His death leaves just three “The Poolman”s left in Savannah. So to quote Mark Twain, “Reports of my death are grossly exaggerated.” — hopefully, for some time to come.

Poor Paula

The headline in today’s local paper reads  “Publisher drops Deen cookbook.” “The Perils of Paula” has been all anyone in Savannah has been talking about for the past ten days. In case you have been hibernating, you know that local Savannah restaurateur-made rich-and-famous Paula Deen has been under attack ever since the contents of a deposition were made public, in which she admitted using the “N-word” some 30years ago.Paula w

I am of two minds on this issue. My first reaction was this was an incredibly disproportionate reaction to a three-decade old petty misdemeanor. I mean – come on! Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone. I am not condoning the utterance. I just think this is a case of capital punishment for a parking ticket. I feel sorry for Paula. She actually lives around the corner from us, and occasionally we’ll see her shopping in Publix.

On the other hand, to borrow another cliché, “Those who live by the sword, die by the sword.” In this case, the sword is the combination of publicity and image.  Paula built her food empire and her fortune based on image and publicity. It’s not like she is the greatest chef in the world. Her folksy “Southern charm” made her the queen of The Food Network. Once she caught on, her momentum just kept building. But that kind of fame and image can be like a balloon – big and voluminous, but of little of substance. One leak and the whole thing disappears.

Paula did not do a good job protecting that balloon from lurkers with needles. The damning deposition originates in a lawsuit related to a restaurant Paula created for her brother, Bubba. We know a number of people who have worked at “Uncle Bubba’s,” and they tell us that things were run pretty loose there. I have no idea of there is any merit to the actual lawsuit filed by one of Bubba’s former managers, but it is safe to say that the operation was not squeaky clean. That is not unusual for restaurants, and in most cases, it doesn’t matter — unless you are Paula Deen and you have a mega-million business riding almost entirely on your image. You must make certain there is no one lurking in the background with a hat pin looking to burst that giant balloon. Apparently, she did not do that, and that is her biggest mistake. Too bad.

Another St. Patrick’s Day behind us

It’s Sunday evening of the actual St Patrick’s Day. We’ve had a good run, but Mrs. Poolman and I are a little pooped out.

For the uninitiated, St Patrick’s Day is to Savannah as Mardi Gras is to New Orleans. For the past 11 years, we have staked out a plot in one of the downtown squares and set up a “tailgate party.” The parade comes by, but more importantly, we spend a day visiting with friends, family, and sometimes friends’ and family’s friends. It is very much like a traditional football tailgate party, except it starts early in the morning and ends around mid-afternoon. Sometimes we actually get to watch some of the parade, like the visiting Clydesdales.

Where is the cute little guy from the Super Bowl commercials?

Where is the cute little guy from the Super Bowl commercials?

This year was a bit of a test for us. Last year, we had crowd issues. A number of their friends invited a bunch of their friends. The result was too many people and too little space. As I mentioned to Mrs. P, “It was a lot of work to give a party for a bunch of people I don’t even know.” This year, we consciously made a serious effort at crowd control. Essentially our message was this– “If you want to bring a gang of your friends to our party, then come on down and join us at oh-dark-30, and claim a spot next to us. Not surprisingly, no one took us up on the offer.

This year, since the actual date of the holiday falls on a Sunday, the local parade and celebration is held on Saturday. We had a gang of our Jacksonville side of the family arrive Friday evening, but, for the most part, they had to fend for themselves. Mrs. P and I went to bed early to grab a few hours of sleep.

We were up at 1:30 am and downtown by 2:30 am. Joining us were our daughter (Writer Princes) and Son-in-Law (SIL). We were very surprised to see our target corner of Calhoun square was unoccupied when we arrived. Actually, the police don’t let you in the actual square until 6 am. But early arrivals, stake out their claims by placing chair and coolers around the edge and negotiating with competing groups. The local custom is “first-come, first-served.” By working with the other groups, you can avoid conflicts when the “land-rush” starts at 6 am.  We worked things out with our later-arriving neighbors, and actually “donated” some of our plot to a neighbor before the rush began. It worked out well. We worked together to stake out our plots rather than competing with each other.

The problem isn’t with the early arrivals. The issues arise with the people who show up a few minutes before the square is opened. They want to claim a prime spot and push out the groups who have been there for several hours. We have absolutely no sympathy for them.

So we ended with a nice piece of parade frontage and plenty of room to set up our canopies, food tables and chairs. Things went so well with our neighboring groups, that we exchanged contact information and plan to work together again next year. An alliance! What a radical thought! We’ll be the NATO of Calhoun Square.

Our square at 6:30am

Our square at 6:30am

The same spot in the late morning.

The same spot in the late morning.

The rest of the day was a nice, but busy party. Friends came by and visited. Others came and stayed. People brought food and their own drinks. Our age range spread from children to Social Security. Good time had by all. By around three in the afternoon, the “dawn patrol” packed up and headed back to the island.

After a debrief, we declared it a victory. The Poolman St Patrick’s Party will continue next year. Good time. Good weekend. Back to work tomorrow.

Looking back at a great trip

It’s Sunday afternoon and we’ve been back in the USA for six days. I guess it is a cliché, but as much as we enjoyed our trip to Paris and Normandy, it is nice to be back in our one house. I think about a week and a half is my limit before I start thinking it would be good to be back to familiar surroundings and routine.

Our trip back to Savannah on Monday was grueling. As we were riding the RER train to the airport, Mrs. Poolman commented that she hoped we had the same luck as we did on the flight over; that is, no one sharing our three-across seat combo. Or, at least not a 300 pounder. As it turns out, the guy in the aisle seat was closer to 400 pounds. Seriously! And Air France has to have the smallest seats in existence, in both width and front-back space. We were on that Boeing 777 for 11 and a half hours, and Mrs. P was not a happy flier. Jabba the Hut oozed across the armrest and over into Princes Leia’s seat space, and the person in the row in front kept reclining her seat so far that she couldn’t even focus on the back-of-the seat TV monitor. At one point Mrs P just couldn’t stand it any more and got up and stood in the back of the plane for around an hour. We didn’t realize how small the seat space was until we connected with a Delta MD88 in Atlanta. When we sat down, Mrs. P and I looked at each other and commented on how much more room there was. Long haul – tiny space. Short haul – roomy seats. That doesn’t seem right.

One thing interesting about travel is trying to figure out the different plumbing and electricity. When we checked into the Holiday Inn St Germain des Pres in Paris, we couldn’t figure out how to turn the lights on. They would come on and then go out again. Then we noticed a little device on the wall near the door. The room key is a flat piece of plastic, and you are supposed to insert the room key into the slot in the wall device. That allows you to turn on all the room lights. Nice idea to save on electricity, but a bit confusing if you have never encountered it before.

What is it with the French thing of a shower guard that only covers half the tub? We had this in three of the four rooms in which we stayed. You have to really work at it to keep the shower spray from soaking the entire room. Would a full-length shower curtain be that difficult?

This is the bath-shower in our apartment. Note the glass shower barrier that extends only halfway down the tub.

Visitors to Mont St Michel are constantly climbing stairs.

You stairs are everywhere!

There is no flat surface on the island. Everything is up or down. It’s a great way to get some exercise. I did notice they have automatic defibrillators about every 50 feet on all the streets.

Instructions in several languages

I wonder how often they are used. At one point, I was out on the causeway taking some pictures when a very rotund man walked by on his way to the gate. All I could think of was, “Oh man, you are going to die here.”

And once again, I have to point out that the people we encountered were all fantastic. The French, and Parisians in general, have a bad reputation for meeting unfriendly, especially to Americans. We did not encounter that at all. Everyone was great, whether we were interacting with a waiter in a sidewalk café, or a fellow passenger as we were packed cheek-to-jowl on a crowded Metro train. The only even slightly unpleasant people we encountered were tourists. See my posting on our trip to Versailles.

The bank account won’t take another trip like this for a couple of years. But if I can get Mrs. P back on an airplane, we’ll attempt another trip before too long. Looking forward to it.

A ho?

I was cruising one of our local television station’s Web sites the other day I ran across this somewhat bizarre story. A reporter was on the street interviewing a police officers about the incidence of HIV among the local “ladies of the evening,” when a woman claiming to be one such “lady” came up and interrupted the interview.

The first thing that struck me was the woman herself. Let’s just say she doesn’t have a face for seduction.

I was reminded of an early Saturday Night Live skit with Eddie Murphy playing the role of Velvet Jones – the founder of the Velvet Jones School of Technology and the author of the “how-to” book, “I Wanna Be A Ho.” The skit was a take-off of the show “People’s Court.” A “wannabe ho” was suing Velvet Jones because she had bought his book, but her career as a “ho” was still a failure.

Murphy defended himself with one of the great one-liners. “My honah, my honah..I can clear this up in just three words, ‘The bitch ugly!’”

If the subject matter doesn’t offend you, take a look. It’s hysterical.