The Waving Girl - A Love Story

Every time I visit Savannah I take a walk along River Street to visit the statue that represents one of Savannah's favorite stories, the life of Florence Martus who was known as the Waving Girl. The daughter of a sergeant stationed at Fort Pulaski, Florence moved to a cottage along the river near the entrance of the harbor with her brother George because he was the keeper of the lighthouse at Cockspur.  

The way I understand this story is that her life at the remote cottage was lonely for her.  She developed a close kinship with those on the passing ships and welcomed each one with a wave of her handkerchief. The sailors began returning her greeting by waving back or with a blast of the ship's horn. Eventually she even greeted the ships arriving in the dark by lantern.  She did this for over forty years. This is a beautiful story but I prefer the speculated story.

There is a lot of speculation about the Waving Girl having fallen in love with a sailor who never returned to Savannah. Legend has it that when she was 18 and still quite innocent, a dashing Navy lieutenant visited Elba Island and began romancing her. He was from Cape Cod and had come down from his ship's berth in Savannah to join one of the tours she gave at Fort Pulaski. Perhaps he intended to add her to a long list of romantic conquests in various ports around the world. Less likely, he truly fell in love with her but was unable to keep his promise of marriage. Regardless, after a whirlwind courtship, his ship lifted anchor and he departed Savannah with the assurance that he would return and marry Florence Martus as soon as possible. As a token of his love, he gave her his white Navy neckerchief, which she tearfully waved as his ship passed Elba Island on its way to ports unknown.

The facts, however, about why she started and continued the waving tradition for so many years remain a mystery but in my mind I cannot fathom why she would have went to all the trouble if not for true love. When I think about this love story it brings tears to my eyes.  Do I have what it takes to go the distance and love someone for all my years?  I used to stare out into the river and back at the statue of the beautiful girl for many hours, daydreaming about what it must have been like to be in love with one man so much that you would dedicate your entire life to welcoming him home.

In any event, the Waving girl of Savannah legend is pretty popular and if you visit Savannah the statue in her honor is one of the things you want to see.  It is located at the Southeastern end of River Street and her statue overlooks the Savannah River just as I imagine Florence overlooked it so many years ago.  If I haven’t convinced you with my story, another reason to see it is that she is a creation of Felix De Weldon, which if you have visited the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, VA you will be familiar with his work. I am not sure if it is the love story or the fact that the statue has the connection to the Iwo Jima Memorial but every time I stand near it I feel warm inside and it makes me want to visit it over and over again.



fungirlmmm fungirlmmm
46-50, F
10 Responses Feb 26, 2010

Just got back from Savannah. Loved the town and the people. Some of the friendliest people I have ever met. With sir and yes mam. Love the history to see also. <br />
The food was great. When I was at the waving girl statue you could see the love for her man, hoping for his safe return. God bless the people of Savannah. God bless America

Yes it is. I broke my leg there. LOL yes another reason my mom said she didn't want me to go to Savannah for St. Paddy's.

That would be great. I wouldn't mind living there either, the beach is nearby and there are the previously mentioned reasons also... It is hard as hell getting up those stairs from River Street when you are drunk with 3 inch heels on, though. Seriously!

Long time ago now. The only fun part was the sports, but I like a sport that isn't too popular in the US, so I had tix in a nowhere-near sell out situation for 5 days.

Blue, That's okay... you may just have a friend there to visit someday lol. <br />
<br />
Stony, I went to the Olympics but I have friends in ATL so didn't have to worry about hotels.

Savannah reminds me of a mini New Orleans, and I love it there too. River street has great shops and it quite a nightlife also. It is an awesome place to visit, but I have never lived there.

Who hasn't been to Hotlanta? Regrettably, other than the 96 Olympics (when my "hotel" was in AL), all of my time in Atlanta has been business. My triptique of Georgia above follows I-75, which is how Ohioans drive to FL. Actually found a really great barbeque place in Macon in what looked like an old Waffle House building.

You haven't truly been to GA unless you go to Atlanta. That is a rocking town!!! Savannah because it is a great historic town. You were there for business or pleasure? Savannah has a lot going for it in way of pleasure.

Good story. I've never been to Savannah. My stops in Georgia were more like Macon, Waycross, Valdosta.

:) Well I used to live in Savannah as you know. I loved it and I used to spend a lot of time visiting this statue. I was not the richest chick when I lived there but it is on my top five list of "Must Live Once or More in a Lifetime" List.<br />
<br />
You would love it there. I love so much more about it and I will write more for this group as time passes. I plan to spend a lot of time there in the Summer and Fall of 2010.