Trolley Stop #17
Stop #17 for the trolleys lies a couple of miles outside Savannah - and not on the regular tour stops. This is the home base for the company - where the office workers, cleaning staff, mechanics and drivers start and end each day.
Meet Will Green, owner of Old Savannah Tours. How does one find themselves the owner of a corporation that employees over a hundred folks, stages actors that play 30 different roles of historical Savannah characters, shuttles a thousand folks a day around town and keeps around sixty vehicles on the road?
One could argue that Savannah's renaissance over the last several decades has been the reason it was possible, and yes, the increase in tourism that has come about as a result of the reclamation of the historic areas has played its role. But nothing worthwhile in this life comes without dedication, work and a bit of savvy. Here is a quick look at how the company came about.
In 1979, Will's mother started out with a passenger van, and began selling tickets to show folks around the town. Will was just finishing up college, and decided to move back home and help with the fledgling business. By 1983, they had bought their first "limo bus," those short buses that seat about thirty folks that you see around.
In short order they had three of these buses. The day consisted of booking the clients, doing back to back to back tours, arriving home late and doing the paperwork on the kitchen counter. At the time they were living in a residential neighborhood, and although none of the neighbors had complained about having three buses parked on the street the handwriting was on the wall. They rented their first warehouse space in town for $300 a month - a price easily offset by the amount of gas saved by not having to drive the buses to and from town every day.
Will's mother, now in her nineties, is long retired and lives on a local island. Will however is still very involved in the business, working with his team every day to keep up with all that needs done.
Besides the home base, there are two "visitors centers" that serve as places for customers to gather and purchase tickets and to give office space to the employees that interact with the public on a day to day basis.
Additionally, there are several ticket sales kiosks positioned strategically around town.
Will says that the best part of the job ever is driving visitors around and showing them the most charming city in America. But he is far removed from that today. He has to keep up with an every changing business environment. Any of us that have owned a business understand that if you are a caring person, having others whose livelihood relies upon your wisdom in making business decisions is a sobering proposition. But Will seems to take it in stride - here he is "letting his hair down" with his wife at the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Savannah.
Will Green doing the pirate thing for St. Patrick's Day
Thanks Will, for giving us access to your company as a means to visit Savannah. It has been a pleasure.
About a mile from the home base is another place of historic interest that doesn't get seen on any tours.
Through a wrought iron gate and down a magnolia lined drive we arrive at historic Savannah Golf Club. There were many Scottish immigrants early on in Savannah's history, perhaps fueling the creation of the oldest private golf club in the United States. This golf club has been continuously operated since 1794.
We meet Mike Carn, golf course superintendent. Mike showed me around a bit and had to be off - there was a charity tournament that demanded his attention. Here is the clubhouse.
But most interesting are these mounds that run through the golf course.
Those little hills you see are the remains of a system of trenches and fortifications that were dug for the defense of Savannah in the war of 1812. The trenches were re-engineered during the civil war as well. I am not a golfer, but those of you who have followed me for a while know I photograph many courses. I hear golfers complaining about "hazards" - sand traps, ponds and streams, marshy areas and others. But can you imaging playing with this kind of hazard? Artillery rounds, grape shot, snipers - that makes today's golf look like a piece of cake.
Actually, the course was moved here in 1899, well after the wars. But it makes a good visual exercise when thinking about hazards.
Today's parting shot is of one of the magnolia trees that line the entryway. The first blossoms are adorning the trees. If you are not from the south, realize that these flowers are the size of the pails you use for scrubbing. They bloom for several months, a great addition to the charm of the South.
Have a great Friday everyone !!
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