Saturday, October 2, 2010

Sleepless in Savannah, Part Five

Continued from Part Four:

Things took a turn for the better when Tre and I decided to hail a cab back to the Dresser Palmer House. Our driver was a friendly, Savannah born-and-bred man who took issue with the whole concept of his city as a supernatural phenomenon: "Ma'am, I've lived in Savannah for 56 years and I ain't once seen a ghost -- they just play that up for the tourists!"

"Feel better?" Tre asked, playfully poking me in the arm. I had to admit, it did feel good to hear a native deny Savannah's spectre tales so vehemently. However, there was still one more thing left to do.

After generously tipping our driver for the safe trip back and the reassurance (I was starting to believe I'd actually sleep that night), we entered the main floor of the house to chat with the evening manager. We'd been told someone was on the premesis at all times, and I wanted to get his or her take on the rumors we'd heard about the Inn.

We called out as we walked through the French doors and into the lovely dining area, which was already arranged with fine china and silverware for the next day's gourmet breakfast. We heard a sweet, friendly voice with a slight drawl respond before an adorable African-American young woman approached us from the back kitchen.

"Hi, I'm Deedee! How can I help y'all?"

"Is this place haunted? My friend here is scared to death," Tre noted.

"Heck, no!" she stated, rather emphatically. "I've been working here for 7 years and I told the owners if I ever once saw a ghost, I was outta here!"

I felt like I could breathe again. We chatted for several minutes, during which Deedee informed us that while some places in the city were indeed, haunted, she'd never experienced any problems at the Dresser Palmer House. Relieved, I took her by the arm and thanked her, as if to prove to myself that she really was a flesh and blood human being.

Upon returning to our room, though, I was still a little spooked. I've never been a fan of old buildings, having been raised in new homes where we'd always been the first inhabitants (I am my mother's daughter; I'd rather buy brand-new clothes at a discount store than buy anything that had once been worn by a stranger). Despite the comforting words of Deedee and the Cabbie, I never did sleep that night.

Tre graciously offered to let me keep the TV on all night (which I gratefully accepted) and periodically rolled over to inquire in a sleepy voice about my well-being. I was touched by the gesture, but just couldn't relax enough to drift off to dreamland. I decided that Savannah was a place to explore with a big, strong manly man, with whom a girl could snuggle up when things went bump in the night. And of course, the city's romantic aura definitely favored couples.

In any case, I never saw or heard anything terrifying that night, though old houses tend to make noise just fine on their own; Dresser Palmer House was no exception. It didn't help that our next-door neighbors had their television blaring, but I was willing to cut them some slack. For all I knew, they were ill-at-ease, too.

The next morning, on pure adrenalin, I cheerfully accompanied Tre down to breakfast, where we made the acquaintance of a nice couple from Wisconsin, over homemade spinach quiche and coffee. Scott and Kristin regaled us with tales of the haunted pub crawl they'd taken the night before, and confirmed some pretty strange occurances (cold spots, footsteps on the stairs, etc.).

But the most chilling story they shared involved the 17Hundred90 Inn, home of Anna, the Ghost. Anna was a young girl of 17 back in the 18th Century, whose family forced her to marry a man old enough to be her grandfather. He was the original owner of the Inn and basically made her his slave, forcing her to do all of the Inn's dirty work (which, in the days before running water, must have been thoroughly disgusting). He also beat her regularly.

When Anna fell in love with a strapping young sailor and made plans to run away with him, the Old Geezer uncovered their plot, and locked Anna in Room 204, where he beat her to within an inch of her life, then threw her to her death over the balcony. To this day, she haunts that very room, crying for her true love.

Unbelievably, there's a one-year waiting list for honeymooners, who apparently have nothing better to do on their wedding night than enjoy a wild confrontation with a despondant spirit (which doesn't bode well for the marriage). As the story goes, couples are rudely awakened in the middle of the night by a levitating Anna, crying her dearly-departed eyes out. People have reported feeling the tears on their faces and having their lingerie stolen. Reports say that couples run from the room in horror in the middle of the night and head for the safety of the closest hotel chain.

We all wondered why anyone would find that entertaining, but figured the Inn's new owners are laughing themselves all the way to the bank.

Luckily for sleep-deprived me, Tre loves to drive and took the wheel for the rest of our journey back to South Florida. I am happy to report that my condo stood just as I left, and my sleeping patterns have returned to normal.

Despite all of the weirdness, I'd be willing to revisit Savannah on the arm of a strong, understanding gentleman. Until then, I think I'll stick to visiting happy places like the beach and Disneyworld. Sleep well, Savannah!

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