Each day is the past in making.
Since we are on vacation and viewing a lot of historical sights, I realized that each day we are making history. As I walked by Civil War heroes’ statues in Savannah, I read quotes from them and read engraved markers about their strength and courage. I wondered when these men and women made these decisions, if they realized they were making history.
Every time I visit Savannah, I take a walk along River Street to visit the statue of The Waving Girl. It is one of Savannah’s favorite stories. The legend is that Florence Martus was the daughter of a sergeant stationed at Fort Pulaski. Florence, feeling alone, moved to a cottage along the river near the entrance of the harbor with her brother George, the Cockspur Island Lighthouse keeper.
I’ve read several versions of the story, but most agree that she was lonely and daily with her collie companion she would stand by the water and wave a white handkerchief to passing ships. Soon sailors retuned her greetings by waving white flags or rags. Often, they would send a horn blast to return her welcoming gesture. She continued this ritual for 44 years. At night she would wave at passing ships with a lantern.
The romantic in me enjoys the other legend that at eighteen Florence was courted by a sailor and fell deeply in love. He gave her his Navy white handkerchief when he had to depart with his ship to unknown ports. It was a promise that he would return.
I think there had to be a personal relationship that motivated her for 44 years. I think she wasn’t thinking of making history; yet, she did. Perhaps he had a waving girl in every port, or maybe he was killed in battle. No one knows, but her constant greeting of the ships made her a famous historical figure in Savannah. Who knows the real truth? Only Florence I guess, but it is history today.
Do any of my readers have a better motivation for a woman greeting boats for forty-four years? I’d love to hear from you. In the meantime, remember that you may be making history today.