Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Savannah Squares

 300 years ago James E. Oglethorpe and his band of 120 colonists left England to establish a colony in the New World. He named it “Georgia” after the king who granted him the charter. Georgia was to be the last of the 13 original colonies.
On arrival, he laid out the city of Savannah in 8 block “wards” --each having a small park (square) in its center. The original 4 squares grew to 24 by 1851. Today, visitors can enjoy each one as unique with it’s own special charm.

Forsythe Park:
One of the bigger parks in the historic district of Savannah, Forsythe Park covers 30 acres. Its fountain dates from 1858, and you may recognize it from the movie “Forrest Gump.” Stroll around the 1-mile perimeter to see some of the prettiest restored houses in town.

Wright Square:
Girl Scouts young and old visit this square to see the Gordon Monument (1883). It honors William Gordon who founded of the Central Georgia Railroad. 

But it’s his granddaughter they celebrate. Juliet Gordon Low founded the Girl Scouts here in Savannah (1912).

Curiously, this monument sits atop the burial mound of a Creek Indian Chief named Tomochichi. He built peace between the two groups facilitating the success of the colony.

Monterey Square:
Flanking one whole side of Monterey square is the exquisite Williams-Mercer house. It’s in this very house that the shooting of Danny Hansford took place in John Berendt’s book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. The story is true, and visitors can tour the house and gardens.

The square’s name refers to General Zachary Taylor’s victory in Monterrey, Mexico (1846). Yet in the center of the square there is also monument to General Casmir Pulaski, killed in the Revolutionary War during the Siege of Savannah.

Telfair Square:
This square is surrounded by the Telfair Art Museum, the oldest art museum in the Southeast. It is the original site of the royal governors residence. Trinity United Methodist Church and the more modern Jepson Center for the arts surround the other sides.

Strolling through these shady open centers visitors can enjoy a cool breeze, read the historic plaques, admire the beauty of the local architecture, or sit on a park bench and enjoy a snack, or simply people watch.

What’s your favorite square?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Red Hot Red Door Records

There’s no menu. A chalkboard hangs on a back wall behind the counter. It’s here that you’ll see a short list of sandwiches, dogs, toppings and specialties. If you’d like a beer, there’s a smaller board listing domestic, import and specialty brews. Or you can wash down a bag of chips with soft drinks chilling in the cooler.

Sit on a tall chrome stool at the ceramic-tiled bar. You can hear soft strains of oldies coming from a turntable just behind you. It’s perched on the end of long table covered with cardboard boxes filled with records. “LP’s” as they used to be called, long before 8-track tapes and cassettes or even iPods came onto the scene.

You can catch a glimpse of fresh hot dogs cooking on a grill. Their sizzling scent drifts around a curtain of vinyl records suspended on chains.

Someone from behind calls out “how ya doin’ today?”

Red Door Records is a friendly place. It attracts a cross-section of folks from the university, the town and travelers who wander in. Diners relax at the bistro tables or the long bar, clicking away on laptops, chatting or reading. Someone works a crossword puzzle over in the corner.

There’s always some fun activity underway--be it movie nite, music bingo, or a pop-culture trivia contest the 1st and 3rd Fridays of the month.  On this afternoon the staff was ramping up for International Record Store Day, planning designer T-shirts, live music and a hot dog eating contest.

Vinyl in a hot dog diner? Is it a record store or a restaurant? 
It’s both, and doing it well.

There’s no mistaking it’s a record shop with all the LPs cleverly hung, boxed or mounted on the walls. In a day when most turntables and record players are gathering dust in thrift shops, Jessica, Red Door Record’s proprietor, does a thriving business reselling these gems.

Even if you’re not looking to buy or sell records, it’s worth a visit. Coming from Chicago, we were in search of a good hot dog. Not an easy task here in the land of ribs, burgers and Southern-fried foods. We found it here!

“It had been my dream to open a used record store,” says Jessica. “But we needed something else to bring in the business.”

She points to an album cover mounted over the window. On its cover is a hot dog drizzled with mustard, nestled in a bun. “That was my inspiration for records and hot dogs.”
The restaurant is now offering craft, imported and domestic beer. Soon there will be booths to provide additional seating.

The menu is limited but well done and consistently good. Try a chicken salad sandwich, a (soy) veggie dog, or the best slaw dog you’ve ever tasted. There’s soda, tea, beer or bottled water if you’re thirsty.

Like the artwork on the walls? Make an offer, and you might walk out with some vintage records, a full stomach and something nice for your art collection.

Red Door Records is a fun place for great food, good oldies music and killer slaw dogs. Even Flat Stanley stopped in for lunch one afternoon. Eat, hang out, and pick up a copy of The Glass Onion to find out what’s happening in town. Want to find out what’s new at the store? You can follow them on MySpace and Facebook.

Red Door Records is located at 136 N. Ashley St. in Valdosta GA. Close to VSU campus. Doors open at 11:30 am every day except Sunday. Monday through Wednesday it closes at 6 pm, but stays open late Thursday, Friday and Saturday. 
Most of the menu items are under $4.