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Storm clouds could not dampen travelers' spirits

If you thought you got soggy last weekend, know you were not alone. We are back from Savannah, Ga., Asheville, N.C., and Hilton Head, S.C., and we got rained on all along the way.

Savannah was wonderful. We stayed right on River Street in a hotel converted from an old cotton warehouse, as are all the shops along the street. We could look off our balcony and see ships with Panamanian, British and German flags. We were reading the requisite Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, John Berendt's non-fiction book that all the tour bus guides refer to because it's based in Savannah. We ate splendid dinners, including Nita's for soul food, Dockside's low country boil and the Pink House's elegant fare (where we sang with the pianist in the basement bar after dinner).

Touches of home were everywhere. Joseph Bradley, co-owner of A Little Bit of Everything antiques, had just bought 723 mantles, one of which he was shipping to Melbourne and another to Redington Beach. The Calibogue, the boat on which we went to Daufuskie Island to see the delightful Gullah Singers, was originally the Kingfisher, a head boat off the local beaches I fished off a few years back.

From there, we were off to Asheville, N.C., where we had a cousins' reunion, including 12 adults, four of whom were kids of cousins. Our daughter Becky, her husband, Scott, and baby Reid (now a 3-month-old snuggler with big fat cheeks) were in the group.

Activities included rain, a visit to the Craftsman's Gallery, rain, a sunny day at Biltmore House, Biltmore Village, rain, the Farmers' Market, rain, fresh trout and incomparable tomatoes, family photos and lots of games of Boggle, Scrabble and balloon volleyball. A couple checking into the motel was told there was a large and sometimes boisterous group there. That was us.

En route home we stopped at Hilton Head, S.C., where our daughter Katie, her husband, Eric, and granddaughter Jamie (22 months) were visiting Eric's folks. Jamie is happy, bouncy, gives big smack kisses and gets 60 minutes out of every hour.

Great idea for Somewhere on the Waterfront: Every Friday night on the Savannah River's shores, a local radio station and a men's wear store sponsor a golf swing contest. Contestants hit balls into the water where markers have been placed at 50 yards, 75 yards, etc. The person who hits the ball the farthest wins a gift certificate. It seems like this could work on The Pier's miniature golf course, or Vinoy Park or somewhere like that.

Speaking of The Pier, the Summer Solstice party there June 21 was a big success with 500 to 600 people listening to the Groovers, sipping the new brew introduced by Ybor City Brewing Co. and watching jugglers and unicyclists and such.

"A real good mix of business people and families," reports Nicole Rogers of The Pier's staff.

Weathered out: The St. Petersburg Museum of History had to cancel the opening of its excellent "St. Petersburg Goes to War, 1941-1945" exhibit Saturday when the storm caused the electricity and phones to go out at noon. Congressman C.

W. Bill Young was to arrive for the event, and his plane was delayed by the storm as well. So watch for an announcement of the delayed opening.

Meanwhile, the exhibit was reviewed and given high marks by Nick Wynn, executive director of the Florida Historical Society. Co-curators were Ellen Babb, curator of education at Heritage Park, and Jim Schnur, president of the Pinellas County Historical Society.

Reading in these pages about Helen MacLeod, one-time principal of the old Sunshine School on Pass-a-Grille, two of her former students, Judy Ginty Cholomitis and Jimmy Simmons, went to see her. Mrs. MacLeod, now 100, lives at Pasadena Manor. She remembered them both, particularly Simmons, who admits to not having been her best behaved student.

Were You There?: The Juvenile Welfare Board marks its 50th anniversary next year and is seeking early participants to record their recollections for an oral history project. If you can help, please call Kate Howze, 521-1853, ext. 256.

There's a new group a-borning. The Evening Branch of the Florida Orchestra Guild met May 23 for the first time, named Jane Molloy, manager of Johnston of Florida, as its chairwoman. "It's composed mostly of business women," she says, "and it's run like a business." She plans to have another meeting the end of July, so stay tuned.

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