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Traveling With Grace: A New Adventure

Posted on September 15th, 2020 by

This week we start a new adventure with Grace Hecht. This diary is the latest of her travel diaries we have in the collection and documents her trip to Israel. Special thanks go to JMM volunteer Harold Toppall for his transcriptions of Grace’s travel diary.

To read more of Grace’s travels, click here. 

Aerial view of Idlewild airport, 1947. Image via.

Monday, May 3, 1953

Location: Above the Atlantic

Arrived at Idlewild airport about 2 p.m. raining hard. Took a tour of the place, like Grand Central Station such mobs. Had lunch in a very nice restaurant. Flo     Supnik and children arrived at 4 (Flor brought me a beautiful headed shrug) & they stayed with us until Charles helped me up the steps of the plane. Crew very pleasant & helpful. Champagne dinner served about 7. Berths made up about 9. Slept off & on. Refueled in Stevensville-Newfoundland in the wee hours. Very cold.

Tuesday, May 4, 1953

Location: Traveling over Europe

Had a very nice breakfast after a quick wash in the little lavatory where toothbrush & dentifrice are supplied. Came down at Orly airfield, Paris about 3 where we could get out & have hot lunch if desired. Raining hard & still cold. We didn’t go. Served a snack on board after departure. An alt. of 19,500 ft. maintained during most of the flight. This af[ternoon] passed the Swiss Alps, snow-covered & majestic, but we have to look down on them which soils some of their grandeur.

Vintage postcard, Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome, Italy. Image via.

Arrived in Rome at 7 & drove along the new Appian Way into the city which looks very gay as this is Marian year proclaimed by the Pope. The church of St. Maria Maggiore was all illuminated as were the fountains of Moses & Neptune. Many young people driving thru the streets on motor scooters in couples as this is a cheap form of transportation. We came to the Excelsior Hotel, opposite the imposing American Embassy.

Wednesday, May 5, 1953

Location: Tel Aviv, Israel

Left Rome (Gianpino airport) a little past one, after driving again thru the city. This time the plane (tourist) carried more people & was crowded. Many were coming from Tunisia to attend a Sephardic Congregation in Israel. All were friendly on the plane. Luncheon & tea were served aboard.

Our first view of Israel is a beautiful splash of lights, which is Haifa. We arrived in Tel Aviv about 11 P.M. (2 hrs gained en route) & met with the greatest possible courtesy at Lydda airport where nearly everyone speaks English or French. On all the planes to Israel they have a separate kosher gallery. Today they served gefilte fish & matzos among other things for lunch.

A very nice young man hustled us thru the customs in no time flat while others waited in line (a la Hutzler’s) & out to the automobile which came to meet us with Abraham, a very attractive young sabra full of enthusiasm & patriotism. We were lucky in our accidental arrival on the eve of Israel’s Independence Day, & I am filled with a sense of gratitude as I realize its significance.

Israel Independence Day poster, 1953. Image via.

We drove all around Tel Aviv, which is gaily decorated. Everywhere there is music, people dancing in the street, fireworks (they say this is the first year they have had them) & illuminated fountains. Happy looking young couples are walking arm in arm along the country roads. On the main street people are sitting at sidewalk cafés. Spirits are running high. On the synagogues & public bldgs. are huge electric menorahs & Mogen Davids. We drove out to the Ramat Aviv (a sort of garden tourist court) where we are assigned a comfortable bungalow furnished tastefully in modern style. They served us a light supper around midnight.

Vintage 1950s poster for Hotel Ramat Aviv. Image via.

Thanks for reading “Traveling with Grace,” a series where we’re sharing (and annotating) posts from the travel diaries of Grace Amelia Hecht, native Baltimorean, b. 1897 and d. 1955. As mentioned in my introductory post transcription errors sometimes occur and I’ve made my best guesses where possible, denoted by [brackets]. – Rachel Kassman, marketing manager


Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Celebrating September, 131 years ago

Posted on September 7th, 2020 by

A blog post by Director of Collections and Exhibits Joanna Church. To read more posts by Joanna click HERE.

Continuing my new tradition of blogging about things we can’t do this year, here’s a blog post about parades!

Parade floats for Uriah A. Pollack’s furniture store, Baltimore, September 1889. Gift of Jerome Schimberg. JMM 1990.18.4.

In the late 19th century, the City of Baltimore hosted an annual fair at Pimlico. Though known as the “State Fair,” it was actually one of several such “state fairs” held in various locations; today’s Maryland State Fair is generally held to be the descendant of the one that began in Lutherville in 1878, with which the Pimlico Fair merged in 190. At any rate, when this photo was taken in 1889 the event at Pimlico was called both the Maryland State Exposition and the September Festival. The week-long event, opened by President Benjamin Harrison, included racing, expositions of agricultural and household goods, concerts, livestock sales, a fireworks show, a ball, military demonstrations, a “parade of labor organizations,” and on the first day, a “Civic and Industrial Parade.”

This card includes both a “programme” for the Festival events on one side,, and an advertisement for Pollack’s store on the other. Looking to update your home? Pollack’s “shows the latest and handsomest designs in Parlor Suits, Fancy Chairs and Rockers, Divans, Reception Chairs and Couches, Chamber and Dining Room Suits in Mahogany, Oak, Walnut and Cherry, Hall Racks, Cheffoniers [sic], Cabinets, China Cases, Book Cases, Music Cabinets, Pedestals, Tables, &c., &c.”  Need a mattress, or a chair reupholstered? Pollack can also help you out! Gift of Jerome Schimberg. JMM 1990.18.6.

It was this first-day Civic and Industrial Parade in which Mr. Uriah A. Pollack’s store was represented by what the Baltimore Sun, in its comprehensive article (“HERE ARE THE FLOATS – They Will Appear Today – History and Trade Illustrated,” September 9, 1889), called “two wagons in line, containing parlor and bedroom furniture.” Other shops rated much more exciting and elaborate newspaper descriptions of their floats, but happily for us we have this photo to help us appreciate Mr. Pollack’s work and wares, despite the Sun’s reticence.

Here we see that two sturdy wagons have been festooned with bunting, rosettes, and advertising banners, and topped with draped and wrapped pergolas. The horses are sporting branded blankets and festive headdresses. American flags are dotted here and there.

And lest you forget what Pollack’s sells, each wagon has some actual furniture inside as well: looks like some fancy chairs in the first, and … I’m not actually sure what’s in the second one, but it has some nice molding or inlay, and there’s a fellow standing in it… maybe a bed without a mattress?

Hopefully, participating in the 1889 September Festival Parade was helpful to Mr. Pollack’s business. He grew up working in his father’s mattress factory in East Baltimore, and later turned his hand to upholstery; he opened his eponymous furniture store in 1847, and after his 1897 death his son-in-law took on the business. The shop eventually added clothing to its wares, and in the 20th century operated several branches (later rebranding as Pollack-Blum’s) until it went out of business in 1982.

Pollack’s Furniture Store, Howard and Saratoga Streets, circa 1905. Gift of Jerome Schimberg. JMM 1990.18.2.

I came across the parade photo in January or February of this year, did a little research and connected it to the 1889 parade program, and decided it would be more appropriate to write about the photograph closer to Labor Day … little realizing that instead of tying the post to parades and celebrations held around the state, I would instead be writing about how we are not having parades and celebrations around the state.

Most Maryland counties chose to cancel their fairs this year due to the ongoing pandemic, including my personal favorite, the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair. The Maryland State Fair, which would have concluded today, was replaced with a “modified” online version, only the second time in 142 years that it has not been held in person. The Town of Kensington has canceled their 53rd annual Labor Day Parade; Greenbelt, their 65th; and Gaithersburg, their 82nd (like the State Fair, it has only be canceled once before, in both cases due to World War II).

My Facebook ‘memories’ keep popping up to remind me of parades and fairs from the past few years that I’m missing this time around – thanks, social media – and I can only hope that in September next year, we’ll be able to return to our end-of-summer festivities. I could use a good parade right about now!


Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Traveling with Grace: At Sea and Random Impressions, 1950 Travels

Posted on September 1st, 2020 by

This week, Grace returns shipboard. She also shares some of her impressions from her time in Denmark and Sweden. Special thanks go to JMM volunteer Harold Toppall for his transcriptions of Grace’s travel diary.

To read more of Grace’s travels, click here. 

August 13 – 16, 1950.

August 13, 1950

At sea aboard the Gripshold

Altho it is Sunday & church services  held in the morning in 2nd class, the beauty shop is open for business as usual & this afternoon they had life boat drill. Tonight we had a lovely concert.

August 14, 1950

This afternoon the ship’s doctor & nurse examined all the passengers’ vaccination certificates. I started to read The Egyptian. Tonight there was dancing which I enjoyed watching as there were many good looking couples on the floor & they danced some cute Swedish folk dances while the musicians sang the songs, & the dancers tapped to the rythem. The inevitable smorgasbord later.

August 15, 1950

Bridge & canasta tournaments this afternoon. Prizes pottery plate & leather cigarette case. The novelty shop on board is doing a thriving business in Scandinavian specialties. I bought a red woolen vest embroidered in colored flowers. Had a manicure. Tonight we saw a movie: Anne Blyth in “Our Very Own.”

August 16, 1950

Helene’s birthday. The stewardess came in our room at 8 o’clock wishing her a happy birthday & bringing a table with orange juice, coffee (H’s cup was wreathed in flowers) & a huge coffee ring delicious with citron, raisons & almonds. At lunch with the coffee we had the 3 little chocolate liqueur bottles that Anne’s sister gave us on parting. It is so rough that I do not venture to go on deck but sit in a big easy chair in the library reading & dozing. Tonight, for dessert they brought Helene a beautiful birthday cake with whipped cream, almond paste roses & 5 candles. The musicians came down from their balcony & played “Happy Birthday to You” & a Swedish song, several of the stewards forming a procession & joining in the singing. There was also a special flower in Helene’s napkin. Tonight we watched the dancing & drank Crème de Menth. Our neighbor Miss Andersonn brought her a gift, a pretty handkerchief.

Shipboard films

August 17, 1950

Sea much calmer today. Was able to walk around the deck again. This afternoon we had horse races & tonight a movie “Nancy Goes to Rio” in technicolor with Anne Southern, Carmen Miranda and Jane Powell.

August 18, 1950

Day calm & uneventful. Dancing tonight.

August 19, 1950

Have developed a cold which has settled in my eyes causing inflammation & discomfort. The doctor came in to look at them & said it was nothing serious which reassured me. He cannot talk English but we compromised on German. He sent the nurse in to put drops in my eyes & she gave me boracic acid water to wash them in. She is a real Nordic beauty. Tonight they showed the picture “Cheaper by the Dozen” with Myrna Loy & Clifton Webb.

August 20, 1950

The nurse put more drops in my eyes today. They are better. Tonight they held the captain’s dinner. Little hot & fresh roses lay at each plate. The ladies all looked very lovely. There was a general dancing & then some 10 of the personnel put on a series of beautiful folk dances which we all enjoyed.

August 21, 1950

Very rough today. They say it is the Florida hurricane & we have to go out of our course to get away from it, which will make us a day late landing. Not feeling too well I decided to stay in bed all day and passed the time pleasantly reading & catching up on my sleep. Our neighbors came in for a visit.

August 22, 1950

Calm today. Almost finished reading “The Egyptian” which is wonderful. This afternoon in order to take the minds of the passengers off of their delayed arrival, they showed a travelogue of America just New York and parts of California. It’s a pity they couldn’t show Washington. Tonight we anchored in the river opposite Coney Island, the lights look lovely along the skyline of Manhattan. Everybody very sociable & chummy on deck while eating our last smorgasbord.

August 23, 1950

Debarked about 10 a.m. No trouble with the customs. So glad to see Charles & Rhea G. waiting to meet us. Drove the latter uptown to the hotel to meet her cousins, called Uncle Eli & started on our way to the Lincoln Tunnel. Stopped for lunch at a Howard Johnson place, lost a long time at the ferry & arrived in Balto. at 8. Dinner at Hausner’s.

Random Impressions:

1950s Denmark Travel Poster. Via.

The Danish postmen lend a note of cheerfulness wherever they go in their scarlet coats with gilt braid & buttons sometimes riding on bicycles, occasionally with a little cart in front to carry the mail.

Even the smallest towns have beautiful parks gay with a profusion of flower beds. (We have really run the gamut of flowers arriving with lilacs, hawthorns, & horsechestnut blossoms, & leaving with asters, dahlias, hydrangeas & chrysanthemums,) Also wonderful fountains and statuary in all the public squares & parks.

Bicycles-the family vehicles. A mother often goes shopping or marketing with 2 little ones perched fore & aft in little seats on her wheel, the one behind sometimes holding on by putting his little arms around her waist. On Sundays one sees fathers & mothers on their respective wheels, she with a baby boy & he with a girl or if the baby is too young to sit on a seat, there is a tiny trailer carriage which the cycler tows on a rope or chain. The Scandinavians are very fond of children & kind to them though I have seldom seen a spoiled or misbehaved child among them. Yet when they travel about the child’s favorite play toys invariably go along.

They are also very fond of dogs & take them everywhere, even to the best restaurants, but there are very few stray animals in evidence. Running water down the windows of food stores, in lieu of refrigeration.

We have seen no beggars & very few people who look like they’re in want. The old people are also sturdy & industrious, though the accent in employment is definitely on youth.

Many old people and invalids ride on tricycles or bicycle chairs.

Schools bldgs. are fine looking & numerous, trade & industrial schools abound.

Good music is popular both on radio-which has no commercials & there is only a small tax for them-and there are many orchestras, even the hotels in the smallest towns have an orchestra to play classic music in the evenings, or at least a pianist.

People are tastefully though not fashionably dressed, but always neat & clean looking even in the country, while in the cities it is not uncommon to see traditional folk costumes worn even in the restaurants.

People we have met are courteous, friendly and honest.

On all main sts. of even the smallest villages beauty shops are to be found, for men as well as women. (Damer & Herrer Frisor.)

Testimonial on Gripsholm

The M. V. Gripsholm while under charter to the U. S. govt. from May 1942 to April 1946 auctioned herself securely in the pages of the history of humanity by her eleven voyages across war tossed seas to succor from prison and hospital the thousands of civilians, sick & wounded combatants whom she carried to their homes again. For the gallant & self-sacrificing men & women of the Gripsholm to whose service of mercy the return to happiness & health these thousands of rescued are forever indebted the assuring name of Gripsholm will stand in the memory of mankind as a symbol of deeds well done and dauntless spirit. On behalf of the government of the United States I take pleasure in attesting the abiding gratitude of America to the Gripsholm and her complement.

Done at the city of Washington this 27th day of March in the year A. D. 1946 and the independence of the United States of America the one hundred and seventy first.

(signed) James F. Byrnes

Secretary of State

This hangs proudly framed in the passage way between the main saloon & smoking room on the promenade desk.

Thus concludes Grace’s 1950 travel diary! Thanks for reading “Traveling with Grace,” a series where we’re sharing (and annotating) posts from the travel diaries of Grace Amelia Hecht, native Baltimorean, b. 1897 and d. 1955. There are two final diaries in our collection – one from 1948 and one from 1953. We look forward to sharing them with you! As mentioned in my introductory post transcription errors sometimes occur and I’ve made my best guesses where possible, denoted by [brackets]. – Rachel Kassman, marketing manager

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

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