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Traveling with Grace: Atlanta to Asheville!

Posted on November 19th, 2019 by

This week, our #TravelTuesday series, Traveling with Grace, takes us from New Orleans into Atlanta, GA and Asheville, NC! To read more of Grace’s travels, click here.

Interior of Bankhead Tunnel Under Mobile River, Alabama, c.1930-40s. Via.

Mon. Aug. 12th. Sorry to leave this nice place but must be on our way again. The road follows the gulf a good part of the way. We had intended visiting the Bellingrath gardens out of Mobile but found it would take too long and it was not worth the price at this time of the year. In Mobile we saw some lovely old Southern mansions, a few of them turned into boarding houses and went thru the Bankhead Tunnel under the Mobile river which cuts off some of the distance (its exactly like the Holland Tunnel in N.Y. only smaller). At Bay Minette we stopped for lunch and Mrs. Parks put the tray of dishes on the front seat but after we finished eating it was accidently knocked over and all the dishes broke so I wanted to pay for the damage and all the lunch room operator would take was 10 cents. About 6 we arrived at the Jefferson Davis in Montgomery which seems to be a very pretty city. After dinner we walked for several blocks along the main street window shopping and saw the capitol flood lighted up on the hill.

Atlanta Biltmore Hotel, Georgia. Via.

Tues. Aug. 13th. Before leaving Montgomery I looked up my old friend Carrie Loeb. We had a little trouble finding her as she had moved several times but we finally tracked her down and she seemed very glad to see us. We rode around Capitol hill and the bldgs. Looked even prettier than they did last night, one of the most attractive state capitols I have seen. There is also a lovely residential section and we passed one pretty synagogue. Left Montgomery about 11 but lost an hour setting watches back to E.S.T. Stopped in West Point for milk and sandwiches. Passed thru a string of little towns en route to Atlanta the approach to which is dirty compared to the other towns we had been in. Got in the Atlanta Biltmore at 6, called Carolyn immediately and she insisted that we come to her house for dinner. She had invited about 8 of her friends to meet me and we had a lovely evening.

Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial Monument in progress 1940. Photo by Edgar Orr, via.

Wed. Aug. 14th. Carolyn and Elizabeth want out with us and showed us Atlanta and vicinity. Some college campuses a number of suburbs, Decatur where Elizabeth treated us to lunch in the hotel, several parks, country clubs, Stone Mt. with its half-finished carvings of Lee, Jeff Davis, etc. started by Borglum and Lukeman and never completed, the Cyclorama of the Battle of Atlanta, Bobby Jones house, and golf course named for him. On a lake in the park we saw the cutest boats propelled like tricycles. Tonight Perrine, Elizabeth and Carolyn had dinner with us on the terrace. (I had ordered a special dinner from the maître – d’hotel) and we chatted and watched the dancing until nearly 11. It was delightfully cool here.

Techwood Homes, Atlanta, GA, late 1930s, an early public housing project in the United States. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Thurs. Aug. 15. Carolyn invited us all for lunch at her house. Then she and her mother went out with us and showed us some more of the city including the Negro University, housing projects, better Negro residential district (all for Milton’s benefit) and then some really magnificent estates (one a miniature Fontainebleau) and many of these beautiful houses are owned by the Coca Cola magnates. Tonight we had dinner in the Coffee Shop.

Grove Park Inn, Asheville, North Carolina, 1940s. Via.

Fri. Aug. 16th. Called for Carolyn about 10 o’clock and started up to Asheville by way of Highlands, Cashiers, Waynesville and Sylva a beautiful ride thru the mts. delightfully cool. Arrived at the Grove Park Inn (after stopping for lunch at a nice little restaurant in Dillard, Ga.) about 5 o’clock. Tonight I met Ella and Milton Nathan, Mr. and Mrs. Tobreiner and Mrs. Charles Rubinstein at the hotel.

East entrance, Grove Park Inn. Via.

Sat. Aug. 17th. Enjoyed the lovely terrace and took a walk in the garden this afternoon. Met Mrs. Bertha Bauer and Mildred and Joe Siegel. Tonight we played bridge on the porch.

 Seely’s castle exterior from “Overloook,” Asheville, North Carolina. Courtesy of the D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, UNC at Asheville.

Sun. Aug. 18th. Took a beautiful ride this afternoon up Sunset Mt., passed the old castle built by the late Mr. Seely who was a big publisher here and built half of Asheville, past the Asheville water shed and reservoir and on up to the Pisgah National Forest reservation with magnificent views along the way. Tonight we heard a very pretty concert at the hotel.

Asheville Auditorium. Via.

Mon. Aug. 19th. Went to the AAA this morning to arrange reservations for the remainder of the trip and for Carolyn’s plane trip home. Returned to the hotel for lunch and this afternoon visited the Antique Show at the Asheville Auditorium. Among the items on exhibit were china, bronzes, ivories, lamps, jewelry, dolls, doll furniture, samplers, buttons, paper weights, quilts, tapestries, hat pins, furniture, candelabra, miniatures, prints, and various oddments. Tonight we played bridge again.

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

Traveling with Grace, heads into New Orleans!

Posted on November 12th, 2019 by

This week’s entry for our 2019 #TravelTuesday series: Traveling with Grace, heads into New Orleans! To read more of Grace’s travels, click here.

Canal Street, New Orleans, Louisiana, c. 1940s. Via.

Mon. Aug 5. Left Galveston at 9 and had to wait 40 min for the ferry. Stopped at Lake Charles (a very pretty city with handsome old residences around the lake) and had lunch at a Walgreen drugstore. Mrs. Allers was sick all the way and had to stop several times. At a place called Kinder we had trouble with a tire and lost more time. We went thru part of Baton Rouge and saw the capitol from a distance. The highway to New Orleans is very pretty and goes right into Canal St. We passed a number of very large hospitals all in a row. Arrived at the St. Charles Hotel (very old fashioned) at 6:15 our time (here it is 2 hours later) after traveling 357 miles.

St. Charles Hotel, New Orleans, Louisiana, at night, c. 1940s. Via.

Tues. Aug. 6. Slept late. Fasted today, the 9th of Av. Went to the Chamber of Commerce to see about a guide, then to a Chrysler place to see about repairs to the car then back to the hotel to sit on the 2nd floor porch overlooking St. Charles Ave. until dinner time. Ate at Kolb’s restaurant across the street much nicer than hotel dining room, which is punk. Took a walk on Canal St. after dinner. Best lighted street I have seen outside of N.Y. and shops very pretty.

French quarter. New Orleans, Louisiana, August 1940. Photo by Brown, courtesy of the the Library of Congress.

Wed. Aug. 7. Had a very charming guide, Mrs. Reynick, take us on a tour of the city today. We started out in the French quarter or Vieux Carré. Some of the interesting sights were: The Place d’Armes with its beautiful flowering trees and unusual statue of Andrew Jackson, the dignified St. Louis Cathedral with beautiful murals and ceiling painted by Canova, brother of the famous Italian sculptor, the Cabildo with its museum of French colonial objects and household furnishings, Pirate’s Alley made famous by Jean Lafitte who was always being incarcerated by the authorities and liberated by the townspeople who profited from his looting, the old mint, old capitol bldg. many lovely antique shops (I have never seen such a profusion of lovely old jewelry, porcelains and bric-a-brak fit for a palace), homes of the aristocracy in many of which Mrs. Reynick claims to have been entertained. She pointed out the home of Dorothy Wix, one occupied formerly by Maude [Cedans??], Robert Edson, and other famous personages. She showed us the different types of architecture, French, Spanish and Louisiana stressing the characteristic of each. Most of the old houses are tremendous, with huge porches are galleries framed in handsome iron grillwork with its beautiful lacy patterns, then there are garçonnières or bachelor’s quarters in a separate wing and servants quarters in another with a big coach house besides and lovely tropical gardens with bamboo, banana, oleander, clematis, palms, hibiscus, magnolias, crepe myrtles, etc. We saw the house of Dr. Autommarchi, private physician to Napoleon I who made his death mask of Louisiana clay, now in the Cabildo, the red brick Pontalba bldgs., first apt. houses in American built by the Baroness to house families of emigres, the old Ursuline Convent, statue of Robt. E. Lee (facing the N. some say it should have faced S. which he loved, but then he could afford to turn his back to the S. without fear), Audubon Park with statue of the naturalist looking up into the trees with sketch book in hand to draw pictures of birds. We had a delicious luncheon at the French restaurant Galatoire’s where we saw some of the elite of N. Orleans elegantly costumed, then started out on more sightseeing. Visited some of the famous cemeteries (they bury the dead above the ground and their tombs are really beautiful especially in the fashionable Metairie cemetery (formerly a Jockey Club) with 14 miles of driveway). Mrs. R. took us into one of the swanky country clubs, saw Tulane University Campus and Newcombe College, the famous Sugar Bowl stadium, the City Park with its pretty Art Museum (not as large as ours) and its famous dueling ground, out to Lake Pontchartrain and thru some of the fashionable new suburbs. We saw 2 very pretty synagogues, the house where Julius Rosenwald’s daughter (Mrs. Stern) lives, the house where the author of “Green Pastures” lives, the house where Jefferson Davis died. We went into the Casa Hové where they make perfumes. Mrs. Reynick knows Mrs. Hové and she offered to show us the house, a very good example of early Spanish architecture (built in 1797) and for a wonder we were not asked to buy anything. Unlike any guide in my previous varied experience Mrs. Reynick doesn’t accept commissions and doesn’t allow shopping on her tours. We saw the home of the family of Cardinal Gibbons (he once lived here and some of his relatives still occupy the house), the home of Etienne de Bore discoverer of granulated sugar, the home of John McDonogh and some of the 30 odd public schools he founded here, and the famous French market originally built in 1791. The coffee stands here are favorite rendezvous for refreshments after the shows in the wee hours. We again dined at Kolb’s this evening.

Thurs. Aug 8th. Mrs. R. called to inquire for our health this morning. We breakfasted at a lovely air-conditioned cafeteria across the street where they have waiters to carry your trays. The restaurants are very clean and all the people I have met here are extremely courteous. This afternoon at 2:30 we took a boat ride up and down the harbor. I have never seen such a big boat (5 decks) for such a short trip – but I later heard it sometimes goes as far as St. Paul, Minn. The Capt. Himself took me on the elevator up to the 4th deck where we found comfortable chairs within earshot of the loudspeaker and a lecturer explained the sights as we went along. We were served ice cream during the afternoon and really enjoyed the breeze. New Orleans seems to be a very large port (they claim it is 2nd in the country) and we saw lots of large freighters, on the wharves were coffee, bananas, barrels of molasses, cotton sulphur and salt. Returned at 5, went to Haring’s for the car and then strain to Antoine’s for dinner. They have used the same menu for over 100 yrs. Even tho some of the things printed on it are no longer procurable. It was lucky we got here early because it filled up quickly and when we left there was a queue a block long waiting to get in. The food was very good (I had pompano en papillotte, soufflé potatoes, French rolls, coffee and baked pear in brandy). Met Mr. and Mrs. Milton Fleisher who are en route to Mexico and they stopped for a chat and to get some pointers. I was disappointed in the appearance of the clientele here, anything but elegant with a few exceptions. Afterward we took a ride out as far as Ponchartrain Beach, a large amusement park, just to cool off.

The Buena Vista Hotel in Biloxi, Mississippi circa 1940. Via.

Fri. Aug. 9th. After breakfast at Kolb’s we left for Biloxi a very pretty drive along the gulf shore passing Pass Christian and Gulfpost. The road is lined with beautiful homes each with its little pier extending out into the water with a round pavilion at the end and usually there are a number of pelicans perched on the pilings. There are also a great many hotels, restaurants and tourist camps along the route. We reached the Buena Vista in time for lunch at 1:30 and enjoyed its tree-shaded verandah and cool breezes in the afternoon and evening with full moon above.

Buena Vista Hotel, water view. Via.

Sat. Aug. 10th and Sun. Aug 11th. Stayed at the hotel where we are most comfortable. From the porch we can watch the bathers, the watercraft and an endless stream of traffic up and down the highway. It is such a relief after the heat, etc. in New Orleans.

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

Travels with Grace: Final Days in Mexico

Posted on November 5th, 2019 by

This week’s entry for our 2019 #TravelTuesday series: Traveling with Grace, continues her trip through Mexico. To read more of Grace’s travels, click here.

Sun. July 28. This morning (thanks to a man we met in the museum) we had a great treat. At 9 o’clock we went to Santa Maria Iglesia Santiago Tlatelolco where every July 28th is celebrated an all-day fiesta. The parishioners – mostly Indians – dress in traditional costumes with feather headdress, long hair, carry knives and other primitive weapons, beat on tom-toms and shake gourds filled with buckshot. Some wear grotesque masked, others play weird looking and sounding instruments. They dance rhythmically keeping perfect time to the music. Some look quite old but are still agile and graceful. The children join in learning from their elders, some on droll costumes and masks also. One of the young braves did the most remarkable toe dancing I have ever seen. When one group stops, another starts. This takes place on a sort of broad terrace at the side of the church itself which is handsomely decorated with flowers inside and out. Now and then sky rockets are shot into the air which explode with a deafening roar. But it seems a sheer waste to shoot them off in the daytime when only a puff of white smoke can be seen. This celebration is of a purely religious nature though its significance is lost on us. But when some of the visitors tried to take photos they got very excited and would not let them.

From here we went to the Charros Club on Ejército Nacional to see a typical rodeo. This takes place every Sun. morning in an arena which is a miniature of the bull ring. It is a most colorful crowd. In the center sit the senoritas in their beautiful embroidered China Poblano costumes. The Charros wear braided suits, wide silver belts, sombreros of felt of straw decorated with elaborate embroidery and often silver ornaments besides, with straps under their chins. They give a fine display of horsemanship (their mounts are exquisite and saddles and bridles of tooled and silver inlaid leather and heavy silver spurs) and they lasso young colts and twirl long ropes in Will Roger-style. Every now and then a platform is laid down on the ring and one of the Charros dances with a pretty senorita. We saw the dance in which they tie a knot in a scarf with their feet while dancing and another where they dance on the brim of a sombrero. During all this food and drinks are dispensed to the audience (these people are always hungry and thirsty it seems). At one o’clock it is over, and we returned to the Maria Cristina for lunch after which we took our departure for San Jose Perua.

San Jose Purua, Mexico, c. 1940s. Image via.

We have to go thru Toluca and a few smaller towns not before visited. The ride is beautiful as are all the rides in this country, tortuous roads with a new and more enchanting view after every curve. When we reached San Jose about 6 it was the most unexpected view which suddenly met our gaze. A turn in the road and there lay a most amazing hotel in the cup of the hills as tho it were carved out of a deep quarry. It is built in a circular pattern spiraling up the slopes, all white and red in its green setting. Tonight they served a buffet supper like they used to have on the ocean liners only more so with every known variety of hors d’oeuvre.

Aquaduct to Morelia, Mochoacan Mexico, c. 1940s. Image via.

Mon. July 29. This morning it looks even more beautiful here than it did last night. I am sitting out on the little balcony (each room has its own) facing the mts. which appear quite close and directly opposite is a water-fall which reminds me of the Bow Falls at Banff Springs, in fact the setting is very similar but with the difference that the vegetation is tropical. This afternoon we rode to Morelia capital of Michoacán, a beautiful ride over the mts. As you enter the town there is a fine old viaduct, which so often form a sort of boundary line to these old cities. There is a quaint fountain formed by 3 women in colored (majolica like) terra cotta in a kneeling position and forming a circle with their arms upraised to hold a huge platter of various fruits, on top of which are electric lights. We went into the Alameda, a very nice up-to-date hostelry, saw the university, library, cathedral, museum, and the home of Morello for whom the town is named. There are many picturesque courtyards or patios to be glimpsed through the heavy carved wooden doors, slightly ajar and the architecture and lovely iron grill-work are distinctly Spanish. Back at the San Jose Purua we enjoyed a bountiful dinner (the cuisine here is noted throughout Mexico).

Tues. July 30. This morning at the hotel I met Rabbi Clark from Pine Bluff, Ark. who knows Rabbi Coblenz[??] and he introduced me to the hotel’s chef, a very jovial man, a refugee from Vienna, with whom I conversed a little in German. At 10 we started for Mexico City arriving there about 1, took a last look at its beautiful wide avenues, monuments, parks, public buildings and regretfully turned our backs on this fine metropolis with its nearly perfect climate and continued on to Zimapan. This country looks rather bleak and barren after what we have seen in the last few weeks. Arrived in Zimapan a little after 4. Tonight is beautiful and balmy with a young moon and many stars in the sky (they look so close) and after dinner we walked around the courtyard and talked to some of the natives. We have 2 rooms and bath in a sort of auto court.

Sierra Gorda Hotel, c. 1940s. Image Via.

Wed. July 31. Left Zimapan at 9:40. A long last trip to Victoria. Stopped at Tamazunchale and El Mante for gas. Saw the usual groups of natives selling things along the road, fruits, pictures, buts of crystal, leather belts of cow hide and alligator. Arrived at the Sierra Gorda Hotel at 5:45. Outside the hotel they were selling something new tonight, varicolored string hammocks. They carry the most amazing loads on their backs. When we ate in the dining room at the Maria Cristina they used to stand outside the door and display their wares, one minute the flower vender, then the man with feather brushes, all sizes and lengths of handles, then a man with little carved wood trays and boxes, another with bright rugs, blankets, jackets and shawls, another with pottery, another with laces and linens and so on.

Gran Hotel Ancira brochure cover. Image via.

Thurs. Aug. 1. Left Victoria at 10:50. It was very hot but we ran into a shower on the way which cooled us off. Yesterday we went thru the banana belt (and bought them on the road) today we’re in the orange belt and likewise bought some to eat on the way. The country thru which we came today looks much richer and the homes more prosperous than those we saw yesterday. Arrived in Monterey at 1:30 and after getting our room at the Gran Ancira we rode around the city and went to Sanborn’s for dinner, not as big as the one in Mexico City but very attractive and the waitresses wear the same uniforms of striped cotton long skirts, white blouses, fringed shoulder capes in different colors, and headdress to match the skirts. After dinner we looked around their shop where they sell different Mexican novelties and I bought an inexpensive luncheon set. Then we walked around the block and looked in all the shops which are interesting because they are so different from ours.

Reynosa, Mexico, c. 1940s. Image via.

Fri. Aug. 2. Left Monterey at 9:15. The ride to Reynosa was flat and uninteresting thru dry and rather barren country. This border town is small and not nearly as busy and exciting as was Laredo. The American Customs officers took our oranges out of our Sanborn lunch boxes (I had eaten 2 tho before they came) but they didn’t find our cactus pears which Milton had picked on the way. We got thru the customs quicker than on our way down and the minute we were over the border we noticed a sudden and remarkable change in everything. The land was richer, the orange groves irrigated, the houses of [frame??] but much neater and cleaner, no cattle wandering across the roads which are wider and faster. At Pharr, Tex. We put 10 cents in a slot machine and got a big thick sealed paper bag filled with crushed ice for our tea which had gotten warm and we enjoyed our lunch of sandwiches, eggs, potato salad, cactus pears, pickles, and delicious cake, eaten at the side of the road. We passed many orange groves and cotton fields, palm and oleander trees and rode thru a number of small towns including Premont and Kingsville (there is an Alice and a Ben[?] Bolt in this section) and arrived at the Robert Driscoll – a very large, modern and beautiful hotel – in Corpus Christi at 5:45. Tonight we listened to some beautiful music played by a lady entertainer (from 8 to 10:30) on the clavivox, a combination organ and piano (elec!).

Robert Driscoll Hotel, Corpus Christi, c. 1940s. Image via.

Sat. Aug. 3. Sat in the hotel lobby all afternoon reading and almost froze from the air conditioning. On the street it was like a furnace. But after dark we took a nice ride along the waterfront. It is quite a bathing resort. Lots of hotels, courts, amusement parks, speed boating etc.

Jack Tar Court Hotel — Overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, Galveston, Texas, c. 1930-1945. Retrieved from

Sun. Aug. 4. Left Corpus Christi about 10, stopped for lunch at Bay City at Walgreen’s drug store and arrived at Galveston at 3. The roads are wonderful, many live oaks hung with Spanish moss, lots of palms, deep pink oleanders, crepe myrtles, cotton fields, etc. The approach to the city is thru a very pretty residential section. All the streets in Texan cities seem to be very wide and clean. We are stopping at the Jack Tar Motor Hotel. The dining room is like a mad house. After dinner we went out on the beach, then rode around to see the bright lights, a regular midway.

Came thru the Acadian and Evangeline country full of swamps and bayous. They say this is good for trapping country. Furs are their #1 industry, including mink, squirrel, rabbit, raccoon, possum and skunk.

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

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