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Travelling with the Machatunim*

AKA weekends away with Judy and Ray

Lenore and I hit the jackpot 41 years ago with our new son-in-law, Moti. Little did we know that his parents, Judy and Ray, would become our dear and close friends. We were living in Pomona, NY, a suburb of New York City, and they were living in Wyncote, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia.

Our first outing together was a day touring the art museums in downtown Philadelphia. Then a short drive away in Merion, Pennsylvania we had a guided tour of the Barnes Museum. Dr. Barnes was an early collector of Picasso, Renoir, Cezanne, Matisse, Van Gogh, and Modigliani, to name a few. The Barnes has since moved to its current location in downtown Philadelphia. It is a must see.

Subsequent visits were to New York City, Washington D.C., Hershey, Pennsylvania, Boston, and Portland, Maine. We did each one on a weekend drive by car. So we decided to call these adventures our "Weekends Away". In some instances where I had a radio station client, they would treat us to hotel reservations or join us for lunch. Always a nice touch.

In the early 1980s we decided to venture further from home to cities no more than a two-hour flight away. First was Pittsburgh, PA. We stayed at the Sheraton Station Square which is located on a tiny island in the Monongahela River close to where the Mo joins the Allegheny and Ohio Rivers. Thus the name of the adjacent Three Rivers Stadium, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team and the Steelers football team. On our itinerary was a stop at the University of Pittsburgh and its famous Tower of Learning. Other stops were the Jewish neighborhood of Squirrel Hill, and the last visit was to the nearby home of Fallingwater in the Allegheny Mountains, built by Frank Lloyd Wright for Edgar Kaufman. The Kaufmans owned a successful downtown department store. Edgar was a member of the tribe once upon a time but opted out. Our last night the four of us had dinner at The Mount with a breathtaking view of the three rivers and the surrounding area. Pittsburgh is also known as the "City of Bridges"... lots of bridges.

So where to next? Chicago. A good choice! In addition to the usual museums, we did an architectural walking tour of the business district. One building had a free standing Alexander Calder mobile in the entryway. There was a string of banners along Michigan Avenue displaying the artwork of Yaacov Agam. That evening we stayed at the Ambassador West, courtesy of one of my radio station clients. The following day we kept up the pace with brunch at Ciel Bleu atop the Mayfair Regent overlooking the lake and Lake Shore Drive. More museums. Then the John Hancock Center and lunch at the top of the building at the 95. Another spectacular view. We dined that evening at The Pump Room at Ambassador East. First class. Some of the names of the hotels and restaurants have changed over the years so do not use this information as a guide.

We kept on moving west, this time to Seattle, but for a week. Judy took notes and wrote up each trip. And at 5pm each day Ray would have us take a break...it was Happy Hour, time for cocktails. Ah, the good life.

This trip kept Judy very busy. One of the highlights was the Pike Place Market, which we visited and kept on going back to a number of times. It is where the original Starbucks coffee is located. The Fish Market is a big tourist attraction watching the guys behind the counter tossing a whole salmon from one end to the other to be weighed and wrapped. They sell all kinds of fresh fish plus all kinds of smoked salmon in gift packages which they will mail to wherever you desire. There are a variety of ethnic restaurants, locally handcrafted jewelry stands, T-shirt stands, clothing, fast food, etc. The market is always mobbed. Nearby is the original Nordstroms Department Store, a classic. We kept on walking to Pioneer Square and Underground Seattle. The current city is built over the original Seattle. And we kept on walking until we reached the Seattle Art Museum. What a gem. Their collection of Native American and Canadian Totem Poles is fascinating. Just beyond the downtown is the Seattle Space Needle. We rode up to the top and round and round we went. What a view.

I suggested that we go to the Chihuly Glass Factory in the heart of town. The first time we ever saw the blown glass sculptures of Dale Chihuly was at a gallery in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and we were impressed with his artistry. Seattle is home base for Chihuly and his crew. They demonstrated their talent by blowing and shaping a few pieces of their extraordinary work. The next time we four saw Chihuly's work was in the year 2000 at The Tower Of David in Jerusalem. Some of the artwork was massive. All that is left today is a Dale Chihuly chandelier hanging in the entrance hall of the Tower Of David Museum.

On some of the other days we drove to the following sites: the locks to watch the Pacific salmon swimming upstream to their spawning grounds; the Boeing Everett factory where they build the 747s and a whole range of airliners; the San Juan Islands for whale watching...we did not see any. We were now in Canada. Vancouver Island and the big city of Victoria...very British. The nicest part of the island is Butchart Gardens with its beautiful flower beds and Japanese gardens. Back to Seattle and the surrounding Cascade Mountains a view of Mt. Saint Helens and the ruins of the 1980 volcanic eruption. We drove down along the coast to Tacoma. We managed to visit cousins who were living in Bellevue, across the bay from Seattle. Good company. They treated us royally to cocktails and a salmon barbecue. The last day we went to Mt. Ranier. Just beautiful. The weather forecast was for rain by noon. We could not go far along the trail before the clouds started to roll in so we took off just in time.

And now the last trip for the travelling machatunim. The Hawaiian Islands in the year 2000. When we landed everyone received a floral lei to put around their neck. We had a local guide for most of the trip. There are six major islands in the archipelago located midway in the Pacific Ocean between California and the Asian mainland. We hit four of the six, Hawaii, the main island, also known as the big island, Maui, the second largest island, Oahu. T The largest city on Oahu is Honolulu. Pearl Harbor is also located there. Ray was in the U.S. Navy during W.W.II and was stationed somewhere in the Pacific. Fortunately, he was elsewhere when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. We saw the remains of some of the sunken U.S. battleships still there in Pearl Harbor. Kauai is the fourth largest island and perhaps the prettiest. We saw couple after couple of Japanese newlyweds being photographed in the scenic surroundings. We took Judy and Ray to a nearby Japanese restaurant. It was a first for them. A first for Lenore and I was a helicopter ride over live volcanos. We saw the red hot lava flow down to the ocean where it sent off a plume of smoke and bubbling water. On a calmer note we visited the Dole Pineapple Plantation and Waikiki Beach on Oahu, the black lava beach and the Rainbow Eucalyptus trees on Maui. We feasted on fish, drank the milk from freshly cut coconuts. It was 5 PM again and Happy Hour. It was also Judy's 70th birthday. Out came Ray's flask and we made a l'chaim. So for now I bid you all aloha and mahalo.

Postscript: Judy passed away at age 73 in 2003 and Ray passed away in August of 2020. He was 94 years old. What Lenore and I are left with are beautiful memories of the machatunim.

*In Yiddish, your parents and your spouse's parents would be machatunim (approximate pronunciation: mah-cha-tuh-num, with the "cha" rolled in the back of your throat). Machatunim is derived from chatan which means bridegroom or son-in-law. Chatunah is the Hebrew word for wedding. 

 

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Monday, 18 October 2021

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