Excursions & Expeditions: Savannah’s Prohibition Museum

First of all, shout out to my followers who indulged me in my #picklegate challenge! A huge thank you to The Travel Architect, as well as Divya from TravelSavingsAddict for participating. I often participate in blog sharing sites where members are supposed to THOROUGHLY read and comment on each other’s posts. I know that barely anyone actually reads mine. This is annoying because after taking the time to read the posts of others, I often receive comments on my work which show no evidence of having read my writing. “Glad you enjoyed the taco place” when I actually wrote that I hated it. To prove my point I wrote a random section which has nothing to do with anything, within this section I requested that those who saw it should comment #picklegate under my post for a shout out. The only people to clearly have read my post in its entirety are the two bloggers/followers above! 

Second, sorry for the lack of posts! On April 29th I left for the hospital to deliver my 1st child and on May 1st he was born! Welcome to the world Henry Marius! We are so excited to take him on trips to anywhere and everywhere. Now that a month has passed, I’m finally getting into a routine and hopefully blogging more will be a possibility!

Without further tarrying…The Prohibition museum!

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If I could travel back in time, I’d want to visit the 1920’s in the United States. Jazz, the Charleston, the Harlem Renaissance, the Cotton Club, the Lost Generation Writers, Al Capone, Speakeasies, Flappers…I’m here for all of it. I wasn’t expecting to travel back in time when I visited Savannah, Georgia, but that is nearly what happened. I visited the Prohibition Museum and engaged in a fully immersive experience on a time in our nation’s history when the purchase and manufacturing of alcohol was illegal. (A thought which shakes me to my CORE) The museum does an excellent job of displaying all of the different ways that Prohibition influenced the country, I hope you enjoy this post nearly as much as I enjoyed visiting!

The Temperance Movement was made mostly of women who criticized alcohol and the consumption thereof. These women claimed alcohol was immoral and was responsible for the destruction of the family unit, as well as the poor physical and emotional treatment of women at the hands of their drunken spouses. The movement lead to Prohibition which lasted from 1920 to 1933. While the movement may seem noble in some regards, it also pried on the fear of Americans by scapegoating new immigrants to the country. Bars were portrayed as harbors of safety for immigrants who got drunk and took money from the government and were dangerous to the public.

One woman, was particularly passionate about the Temperance Movement and Prohibition. Her name was Carrie Nation, and she was considered to be especially radical in her beliefs. Her claim to fame was attacking institutions which sold alcohol with a hatchet, normally by smashing all of the bottles behind the bar. She famously was almost always dressed in conservative all black clothing. Her husband was an alcoholic and this inspired her to become involved in the temperance movement and to such lengths. She often drew an audience by holding public lectures and called those who followed her, “Home Defenders.”

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Those who worked at breweries and alcohol manufacturing plants soon found themselves out of business and unable to feed their families. Some of the most famous breweries in our country began selling ice cream, soft drinks, cheese, nearly anything to make money. Soda Fountains opened up and those who worked behind the counter tried to create zany ice cream and soda based beverages that were delicious, visually appealing, and would keep customers coming back. Soda jerks did tricks and tried to create “performance” behind the bar similar to what a bartender might do.

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Some people who had lost their jobs in alcohol manufacturing decided to use Prohibition as an opportunity. These people distilled alcohol in their backyards or out in the woods and used their own recipes and equipment. Since they worked by the light of the moon, they were called Moonshiners and their products were called moonshine. Since ingredients were obviously not regulated by the government, it was not unusual for people to become sick, paralyzed, or even dead from consuming moonshine.

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Prohibition also ushered in a new era of organized crime. Famous gangsters such as Bugsy Siegel, Lucky Luciano, and of course, Al Capone made their fortunes by peddling in the sale and distribution of alcohol. The field for alcohol was extremely competitive and thus there was a lot of violence and murder happening during this time. While some mobsters stayed in the shadows to safely be able to continue their operations, Al Capone enjoyed the spotlight and nearly always made himself available for photographs and press reports.

It was not unusual for common people to create their own booze within the safety of their own homes. There were tips, tools, and recipes shared all around the nation between neighbors and friends.

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Doctors got away with selling booze under the guise of using it for “medicinal purposes.” The government usually did not second guess or interfere with a doctor prescribing alcohol as medicine. Thus, people began obtaining alcohol as a means for dealing with various ailments – everything from a twisted ankle to the common cold.

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At the museum, facets of life in the 1920’s are pervasive, but there is a section dedicated solely to culture. You are able to see artifacts from the 1920’s such as clothing worn by people during this time. You’re able to see actual flapper outfits and try on some clothing yourself. Charleston music plays through the speakers in this part of the museum, and you can follow the footprints on the floor to learn how to do a proper Charleston!

The reward for having made it through the museum is giving the password to a mysterious man at “the door” and walking into a 1920’s speakeasy! Here you can order authentic cocktails from the 1920’s and 1930’s, and if you’re pregnant, the bartender might give you some popcorn to go with your sparkling water. There is live entertainment in the evenings, and the speakeasy also offers classes in how to make some of its cocktails.

Trip Tales: SAVANNAH

“Lots and lots and lots of Spanish moss”

— A Random TripAdvisor Review

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Big Fan (I Liked These Things!):

Ghost City Tour – If you do one thing in Savannah…let it be this, particularly the “Beyond the Good and Evil” tour. This ranks up there with the top three best tours I’ve ever taken; it was the perfect amount of unsettling and comedic. For starters, I happened to be having a bad bit of anxiety and was extremely uneasy about taking this tour. Hearing about death and murder usually makes anxiety worse. After hemming and hawing about if I should cut my losses and skip the tour, I could not have been more relieved and thankful that I decided to go ahead with my original plans. Our tour guide was an Aussie, and as such, had an incredible sense of humor and a lovable and sarcastic style. We were doubled over in laughter within the first five minutes of meeting him. He was theatrical, immersive, and kept the attention of our entire group the whole tour, I had tears in my eyes too many times from laughing so hard. Our guide brought us to several sites, including the Mercer House, and explained the fascinating and intense horror-filled history of each place, but laced jokes and humor into every story. The history of one house scared me a lot, a scene where nearly every family who moved in has experienced a mysterious death in the house. I felt really unsettled by hearing the stories and it bothered me to even look at the house, I felt my anxiety coming on again. However, our guide finished the tale with a story about there actually being a nice family moving in recently, and putting up a Christmas tree in their window in December and them loving the house entirely. He joked that for the month of December, his credibility in bringing guests there to hear about the terror was not as effective. To be honest, I’m not sure how much truth there was to ANY of the stories he told, but I enjoyed every moment of this tour. The guide’s ability to work impromptu, on the spot occurrences that unexpectedly happened throughout the night into his bit as comedy was nothing short of genius. Savannah is known for its pervasive haunted history and spooky vibe, and I felt I had the best opportunity to see so much of that, and in a unique way on this tour.

Juliette Gordon Low House – From a young age, my mother knew it was her job to help me develop into a strong and independent individual and woman. Although she’s consistently horrified at my sense of humor, salty language, and running after her in the supermarket with a pouch marked “cock soup” and shouting “MOM, IT’S YOUR FAVORITE, COCK SOUP” as strangers look at her, I think she’s proud of who I am as a woman. She enrolled me at five years old into a local girl scout troop, and I have genuinely good memories of being a Girl Scout. Although it was something I only did for a few years, I feel that my experiences really helped me develop into a person I’m proud to be. I grew up an only child, and I remember screaming and crying at my first girl scout meeting because I had to sit in a different room from my mother, I had to sit with all the other girls and I was not used to making new friends. Plus, the other little girls were basic bitches, and I knew from the moment I saw them we had nothing in common. (Joking. About some of them.) On that day and from that day forward however, I learned how to interact with others, initiate conversations, to rely on myself when I need to, and to be brave. The rest of my days in Girl Scouts taught me similar lessons, and I have many happy memories of creating, exploring, and learning. I also have memories of needing to draw a scene of a jungle on Poster Board, my mom drawing the most ridiculous looking elephant in an attempt to help me out, and then making me tell me troop friends and leader that I had drawn the elephant myself, with his mighty penis looking nose. If she reads this she’s going to say it’s not true, BUT IT’S 100 PERCENT TRUE, GUYS.

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Maybe it’s the pregnancy hormones, but I was touched during our tour. Our tour guide asked who had been a former girl scout and four women including myself raised our hands, and she announced, “Well, welcome home then.” Sobs uncontrollably. The guide was so kind, so many memories were resurrected, and the former scouts on the tour had permanent looks of nostalgia and excitement. Our tour guide required the use of canes to walk due to a physical disability, but she was so proud of the work that the organization was doing to help girls with disabilities integrate more seamlessly into the program, and her part in all of the endeavors which would help these girl scouts. Our guide was funny, thoughtful, and kind. She offered me special accommodations (such as taking the elevator) for me as I was pregnant, and for others who had difficulty with aspects of the house, such as narrow stairs. All of this served as a good reminder of the overall compassionate and inspirational spirit of the organization. It was an honor to learn about Juliette Gordon Low, and how she paved the way for so many women. She was strong minded and brave in a time when it wasn’t in vogue for women to break the mold and think independently. To learn her story by visiting this house, is to learn so much about how far women have come in society and how much we owe to the women who came before us. If you’re looking for a glimmer of happiness, hope, and history, please visit!

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The Squares – If you’re from the 1960’s then a square is a bad thing. If you’re not from the 1960’s and you’re in Savannah, you know all the reasons why squares are an awesome thing. The city is divided up into very small parks, or, squares, and there are 22 squares in all. Normally, walking around a city can be exhausting and at times, un-enjoyable, especially if you are lost, or just low on energy. I can’t tell you how nice it was to have a little piece of pristine nature to sit and relax in after every few blocks or so of walking. In many parts of the world and in my own country, parks, while relaxing, can be somewhat dangerous at night. Unfortunately, some big parks in my city are the places of rape, assault, and violence once the sun sets. I felt safe hanging out in the squares at night because you can see all parts of it at all times. Due to the high variance of them, it really beautifies the city and I love the idea of nature and respite in a “bite sized” version!

Old Town Trolley – If you’ve been reading my blog, you know by now, that exercise is among my least favorite activities. Savannah was hot, and it was humid, and I was with child (as so many of the locals liked to point out.) Not all heroes are human, sometimes, they come in the form of transportation. Trolley Tours Save Lives and Preserve Morale. While the city, even by by own admission, is definitely walk-able, the trolley was a pleasant way to see the city from a different angle, as well as hear about the history of the squares and landmarks. It’s a great way to preserve energy on a hot day!

Dueling Pianos: I’ve been to a few of these around our great nation, but this one is indeed the best. I’d like to give a HUGE shout out (on this blog that only a few people read) to the insane amount of talent radiating from the professionals behind the keys! I was floored by the musical ability of the performers; songs such as Bohemian Rhapsody and Jolene were performed with perfection. Due to the drink selection being dizzying, and babies in utero allegedly not caring for alcohol, I stuck with club soda for the night, but the bar was HUGE and I’m sure, promising. If you’ve been to Dueling Pianos, what’s different about this one is that you can “send a message” with your request, and the pianist writes your message on a giant mirror behind them. If you’ve never been to Dueling Pianos, it’s where two musicians beat the shit out of each other in the middle of the stage while also running back to their pianos to churn out requested songs. It’s wrestle-mania meets symphony. You’ll love it.

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Tybee Island – In being from Long Island originally, the beach has been a huge part of my life. When I travel, my roots seek out a beach wherever I may go. Tybee Island felt like home. It was a 35 minute drive from central Savannah and it’s a classic east coast beach community. We enjoyed the sea life center and seeing small, baby, turtles which will be released once they are old enough. There’s a touch tank in the center which was cool until some random older woman kept daring me to touch the things inside, I got scared and walked away. “Touch it…no really…why won’t you touch it…just touch it.” Maybe I misunderstood and she was just impersonating Harvey Weinstein for her own entertainment, and it had nothing to do with me. Really though, the center does a great job of showing their efforts to preserve the beach and the life that inhabits it. The beach itself is beautiful and vast, and there is a boardwalk where fishing and lounging in the sun takes place. Seafood and fried food are the meal to get at any of the restaurants on Tybee Island and there’s not shortage of places to eat and get hammered. I’m sure the woman who fell off her stool at the restaurant we ate in would absolutely agree. I’m inserting the phrase ‘pickle gate’ into this article for no reason whatsoever, because most people don’t even read the whole thing. They just find a few sentences and say, “Wow! I’m so glad you enjoyed ______. If you happen to find this bit of rambling, please comment and use #picklegate in your comment. I will shout you out in my next blog post. We only had a few hours here, but I’m already excited about visiting for a long weekend once our baby arrives! I love little seaside communities, and I’d imagine Tybee Island is a great place to have fun in the summer, it was even pretty popular in February!

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Prohibition Museum – One of my most favorite places in this beautiful, small, city! I am a HUGE fan of the 1920’s and if you are too, or just a fan of fun times, you must check this out. I’m in the middle of doing an entire post on this place, so I’ll keep it relatively brief. This is the least boring museum you will ever visit. Whereas most museums are meant to be passive experiences, here you really are thrust into history and given ample opportunity to learn, using every sense, about such an edgy and exciting time in our past. The museum is dedicated to an unthinkable time in our nation’s history, a time when alcohol (the manufacturing, sale, and distribution of) was illegal. I feel faint just thinking about such blights on our nation’s timeline, but I’ll try to be brave and persevere. In each room there is a separate “scene” which tells you, as a visitor, about a particular aspect of the prohibition era. Of special interest were rooms entirely devoted to the crime which arose during this period (a re-creation of a shoot out by notorious Al Capone and the like), a dark room which shows how moonshine operations were run, and a temperance movement protest set-up. Each room was filled with life like wax figurines, full sized cars, and a magnitude of decor which went above and beyond in surrounding the visitor in immersive scenes. I loved it so much. I was extremely impressed with the ambiance of the museum, in both its ability to transport you back and time and its extensive collection of artifacts from the 1920’s. At the end, there is a 1920’s era speak easy where you can both indulge in the drinks of the day, as well as take lessons from a bartender! You even have to make sure you say the correct password at the door to get in. There are so many hands on opportunities, photo ops, and laughs to be had!

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Forsyth Park – I’m ashamed to say that I found myself originally not caring if we saw this at all. I’ve seen parks, I’ve seen a lot of parks. Who cares if I don’t see this one? Well, I’m glad my outdoors loving husband decided that HE cared if we did. Forsyth Park is immaculately manicured and exudes old world beauty, reminding me so much of Central Park. It’s a great place to relax and take in the sun. It’s also a great place to pick up a free bible by a person who I’m sure is definitely mentally stable, or to pay $300 for a painting (albeit beautiful) created by an artist who draws inspiration from the park. The Spanish moss trees create a wonderful, romantic ambiance and it’s a fantastic spot for people watching as there is always something happening, even if it’s just pick up frisbee. Also, there were a few people filming there. If a new released film taking place in the park comes out, be on the lookout for me and all my baby weight!

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Bonaventure Cemetery: One of the most beautiful cemeteries in the nation, a peaceful place that is more like an open air museum than anything else!

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Not a Fan (I Did NOT Like These Things:

Southern Conversation – There wasn’t much fault that I could find with Savannah. It was one of those rare cities that I loved instantly, and by the end of our stay, loved entirely. I’m usually a fan of southern charm, but too much “let me come right up and talk to you” makes me anxious. Where I’m from, that is not the norm. If someone DOES try to talk to you deeply in New York, they are trying to sell you tickets to something or they need money. On more than one occasion in Savannah, locals (presumably, due to the molasses like accent) felt the need to ask me personal questions about my being pregnant and make comments about my weight moonlighting as concern for my health. My favorite included, asking me how far along I was (seven months at the time) and then telling me I’m lying and that I MUST be carrying twins. After I said that I WASN’T, being asked several more times if I was sure. Again, in New York this would be met with a “fuck off” if the conversation even got this far, and that’s a big if. Here, I felt people thought they were pretty much entitled to say whatever they please.

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Food for Thought – Where I Ate:

The Collins Quarter – The CUTEST and most delicious stop for coffee and brunch! The menu is delicious and most importantly, they offer cocktails. CQ is Australian based and that means that the coffee is on point. Especially delicious are the spiced lavender mocha and Vietnamese ice coffee. Fun fact, I’ve never laughed harder than trying to get my husband to take a decent photo of me enjoying my coffee. Coffees can also be made decaf!

The Funky Brunch Cafe – A brightly colored, pop art, restaurant known for its creative take on breakfast. The cafe’s highlight is a griddle in the middle of each table where you are free to make your own pancakes with any toppings and in any shape that you want! Fun fact, your waitress might NOT think its wholesome to draw your pancake in the shape of a penis. While the pancakes were decent and you definitely get your money’s worth, we actually found the other breakfast items we ordered (such as sausage gravy & biscuits) to be of much better quality. The fresh squeezed orange juice is a must. Be prepared to roll out of here, the food is filling.

Leopold’s Ice Cream – If you don’t think Leopold’s has the best ice cream, your opinion on anything should never be trusted. There’s always a line out the door (don’t worry it moves quickly) and for good reason. The ice cream – for starters – is of the best quality and homemade. In particular, the rose flavored ice cream was refreshing in the heat. The shop itself feels vintage and from an older and simpler time, when kids in the south used to hang out in the sodey-pop shop giving each other hickeys and twerk by the jukebox to Frankie Valley and the Four Seasons. Be prepared to step into another world and don’t feel guilty about ordering more than once cone!

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Boar’s Head Grill and Tavern – A restaurant located in a restored warehouse from the 1800’s on the bank of the charming riverside of the city. The rough wooden interior makes you feel as though a gaggle of old time-y sailors might come pouring out from behind the kitchen doors. After walking the picturesque riverside, this is a great place to come for some she crab soup and delicious seafood.

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The Ordinary Pub – Confession, I’m a meticulous planner when I travel. I could completely see how this gets annoying to the people with whom I travel. I’m mostly this way when it comes to food – it irks me when I feel I’ve “wasted” one of my meals, and to avoid that-  I won’t just eat anywhere. Our first night in Savannah, we arrived kind of late, and a lot of the restaurants I wanted to eat at were closed. I pouted and shrugged off every restaurant suggestion made by my husband, Arthur, until he persuaded me that we should eat at the Ordinary Pub. Corny writer’s joke…the Ordinary Pub is anything but ordinary. It’s an underground bar meets restaurant with live music and a metallic/artsy innovative decor and vibe. The place is spacious, loud, and a fun place to get the party started. It offers classic southern comfort food and dishes with a modern twist. I was looking for an old school southern dining experience, and was not willing to budge on that experience. I ate at a restaurant that was everything opposite of that – new and innovative – and felt that it was my best meal in Savannah! I couldn’t partake in diving head first into alcohol like I nearly always do, BUT, the food was off the fucking hook and they are open late! I HIGHLY recommend! Get the mac and cheese, your organs will be sorry – but your spirit will not.

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Digs – Where I Stayed:

Planter’s Inn Reynolds Square – Quintessential Savannah! I’m a common New Yawka, and I truly wasn’t use to the finery of this hotel. We decided to splurge on this part of our baby-moon, and this hotel really helped us step into the feel of the city. The hotel unequivocally carried the essence of old world Southern charm, elegance, and grace. Our room was incredibly spacious and featured an adorable four poster bed. The room was so immaculately clean that I felt trashy wheeling my suitcase onto the pristine carpet! I’M NOT USED TO SUCH NICETIES IN LIFE. Every evening, after a long day of sightseeing, the hotel offers complimentary wine and cheese accompanied by a live pianist. It was the perfect touch to such a sophisticated stay, and a romantic way to unwind while the hot sun set over the city.

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What I Learned: I felt the vibe of Savannah the minute we stepped out of our car. It was the low country, swampy, “born on the bayou” type of vibe that I’d always loved about the gulf, such as in places like New Orleans. It’s unmistakably southern, but in a funky, Gothic, spooky way. It’s the kind of place that charms the hell out of you in the day, and makes you a little jumpy walking around at night – not because it is dangerous, but because it’s impossible not to feel the spirits and spooks of the hundreds of years of haunted history here. Savannah holds its own in terms of identity and nearly rivals my love for New Orleans. When do I get to come back!?

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