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Adele Elliott: A primer for pilgrims


Adele Elliott



It is once again that wonderful season of the year. Not to be confused with cold and flu season, or football season, or even hunting season. This is the time when we welcome our visitors from alternate realities, the ones we call "pilgrims." 


Columbus is polished and painted and dressed in her finery. Even Mother Nature participates in the celebration. Lawns are bursting with dogwood, tulips and narcissus. She has banished that horrible curmudgeon, Old Man Winter, not an easy task. This year he hung on with a vengeance. 


It is time for hostesses to don those hoop skirts and ribboned bonnets, shine the silver, and brush up on the history of our antebellum homes. None of this is as simple as it sounds. Trust me. 


If all this memorizing, and smiling, and cleaning, and impeccable gentility is hard on the locals, just imagine the culture shock that our visitors experience. Luckily, I am here with a few handy tips for pilgrims. 


In Columbus the streets have numbers, but houses have names. Jot this down; you may need a score card. Even the natives have trouble remembering all the mansions' identities. Since many are named for flowers, you might get confused. We have Rosewood and Rosedale, Camilla Place and Azalea Place. An advanced degree in botany might be helpful. 


We probably have more ghosts than an Edgar Allan Poe anthology. Every home has one, although some homeowners refuse to admit it, believing that ghosts are somehow anti-Christian. These stories, as well, can be perplexing. There are two homes (Errolton and the Stephen D. Lee Home) that have the names of long-dead occupants etched in a glass window pane. It seems that, at one time, it was quite the rage for newly engaged belles to deface parlor windows with their engagement rings. (And we thought graffiti and tagging were new customs.) Have you ever met anyone else who can identify an historical reference for vandalism? 


I would be remiss if I failed to mention some other points of interest. Those who may tire of touring dozens of homes, all from exactly the same period, might enjoy stopping by the fire station (corner of College Street and Seventh Street South). There, we have a glass-encased exhibit of up-to-date fire fighting equipment, circa 1900. No charge for looking. 


Another not-to-be-missed experience is a stop at the Tennessee Williams Home (300 Main St.). Williams was not actually born in the home, but his family lived there at the time of his birth, and for about three years after. Spoiler alert: you will not meet him there. 


During Pilgrimage, visitors can also catch a Tennessee Williams play, "Kingdom of Earth." This is Tennessee at his most intense. You may need to bring a fan and some smelling salts, but leave the children and the faint of heart at home. This play is strictly adults only. I'm not too sure that even a "vintage" girl like me was old enough to completely understand this one. (Don't say I didn't warn you.) Tickets are available at the Rosenzweig Arts Center at 501 Main St. 


Part of the fun for our guests is the discovery of things not mentioned in the brochures. My advice is to take your time, explore, have fun. We are glad that you are here. (And no, tourist season does not mean that we shoot them!)


Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.


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