50 Strangers #10

Having now visited Savannah for three straight Saturdays I've begun to discover some hidden secrets of this city . Along the River Street walk that I've mention several times before there is a series of small sitting squares or parks . I'm still learning but one is Anchor Park  and the appropriate huge anchor fills it space , another is called Echo Park . Located on the east end of the promenade , the Shrimp Factory sits across the street spilling the smell of deep fried shrimp with the breeze that slips up the river . not far from the sea the air is fresh and there is a respite from Georgia's summer heat . Walls that double as seating surrounds the small square , people meander , pausing to enjoy the southern night . There is well done masonry that covers the ground and it's surface is primarily smooth . Smack dab in the center are two intersecting lines , a plus mark cross + or an x , depending on which way it's viewed . O.K go ahead , stand on the X and yell , from this spot there is and has been a very noticeable echo audible only to the one on the X . A foot away you hear nothing , and you are simply the idiot yelling hello . Perhaps not amazing but certainly interesting . 

    Echo Park was the setting for our meeting with Walter Harris . In the truest sense of the word Walter is not a stranger as I had photographed him about 5 years ago , candids from a distant , I was so happy with the images that I had a large print made and brought it to him a month later . I never have met a more friendly and polite a man . Gracious and thankful he talked of his music and days gone , he also mentioned health issues but said he was getting "back to where I used to be" . He continued to walk every day to play his guitar and sing the blues , a soulful sound he's been treating river street visitors to for 30 years .

   Tonight Walter stood on the X . Tip can in front , perhaps bucket would be a better description , the kind they use to serve steamed oysters in here in the Lowcountry . I was told that I needed to stand close "He just can't see no more" according to Marion another of the long time street musician . We approached as he sang with emotion and soul , from deep within , coming from a place I'm sure god only knows . With the ending of the song we walked up and at a distance closer than I normally would stand I said "Hey Walter remember me ? I gave you that photograph years ago" . "Well of course I do , how ya'll doin?   " Got that hanging right where you come in my house ."  Of course that made me feel good . His eyes were glassy and he's lost a lot of weight . He sang and we listened , he sings beautiful songs about love about life . We chat between songs  and it's happy . In addition to sharing stories and getting to know one another , it gives the listeners a chance to put a little in the bucket . Tonight is the last night Walter will ever qualify as a stranger , a great guy , struggling , but with a smile . I think from this day forward I could say we're friends . Walter Harris , I'm Bob Gala photographer and it was my pleasure to meet you , friend .