Traveling With Grace: A New Adventure

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


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