|Olde Pink House|
She comes by her interest in ghosts, myths, legends, and the paranormal from having spent hours in cemeteries with her grandmother.
A few years ago, I flew to a work conference in Savannah, Georgia. Normally, I would have driven the eight hours since I like to stop along the way when I see something that interests me. I also love to take ghost and historical tours, so I’ll drive to different houses or sites either before or after my work obligations.
This time, I was pressed for time. And as happens in my life from time to time, the creative world had something else in mind for me.
Carry-on bag in hand, I deplaned and headed to the taxi stand. There I met the most energetic and engaging woman taxi driver. She reminded me of one of my friends from Texas, and inspiration struck.
I had wanted to write a mystery series and had considered Savannah or somewhere in Texas. Still, as we drove into the historic district, I realized that my love of the architecture, history, and everything in Savannah would be perfect. And I had my protagonist, Trisha, inspired by my taxi driver. Which was just about the time Trisha’s newly dead Aunt Harriet showed up, not wanting to be left out.
With Aunt Harriet, I had a doorway into the ghostly secrets of Savannah, which I love. In the first novel, The Meter’s Always Running, we get a small glimpse into this world. In the second novel, which will be out next year, Aunt Harriet shows us the other world existing inside a local restaurant, The Olde Pink House.
It was originally known as the Habersham House because it was owned by James Habersham, Jr., one of Savannah’s founding family members. The building was constructed with red bricks, which were then completely covered with white plaster. No one knows whether it was the quality of the bricks or the plaster job, but the red bricks bleed through, causing the building to turn pink. After years of trying to cover it, in 1920, the owner painted it pink, and it’s remained its trademark color to date.
The building changed hands many times until it was restored by Jim Williams, the owner of the Mercer House. The Mercers and their history played a large role in The Meter’s Always Running, and as with many of my stories, history is an integral part.
In the basement of the Olde Pink House is a wonderful tavern, where the ghosts of little children are said to play tricks on those who enter the bathrooms – locking the doors so the human guests can’t exit. Mr. Habersham is said to walk the halls, both in the dining rooms upstairs as well as the lower areas. So, if you feel a cold spot or breeze that isn’t the air conditioning, you may have just wandered near a spirit.
And I’ve been told by Aunt Harriet that Emma Kelly, who you may recall from the book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, sometimes tickles the ivories of the piano and sings for the spirits in the basement bar at times.
It’s one of my favorite places, and I’m not surprised that Aunt Harriet found a way for me to include it in a story. Plus, for those who like trying out new restaurants, the Olde Pink House has a terrific menu of southern classics, including a BLT sandwich with fried green tomatoes and baked bacon with brown sugar.
|Crystal Beer Parlour|
But that’s not the only place that provided some inspiration for the first novel. There’s a local restaurant called the Crystal Beer Palace, or The Crystal. It’s known for its juicy burgers, delicious peach cobbler, and a wide selection of unique and limited-release craft beers. It’s a fun place with Savannah memorabilia on the walls and a haunted picture near the payphone. A little girl named Sara haunts the upstairs, while Monroe and Smitty, two long time servers, are said to visit on occasion. Don’t be surprised if they show up in a short story or novel in this series.
I’ve only begun to explore all the haunted places in Savannah, but hope you’ll stop by one of the many haunted spots if you have a chance to visit the city. Just the atmosphere of these places will give you a real sense of what the city is like both in our world and the otherworldly parts.
The Meter’s Always Running
A Haunted City Mystery, Book 1
Born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, taxi driver Trisha Reede knows all the haunts and legends of the city built on the dead. After a long day of ferrying tourists, Trisha ejects a late evening out of line fare. But when he's found murdered, she questions her decision to let him out in such a seedy neighborhood. As the police investigation steers her way, she puts on the gas to solve the crime. As if she didn't already have enough baggage to deal with, newly dead Aunt Harriett shows up, helpful but cryptic, more dreamlike than real, warning of an enraged spirit searching for Trisha.