A long time ago in an era now dimly remembered (the 1970s), a wonderful gentleman, Monroe Adamson, who happened to be Margaret’s boss, decided that we three should make a visit to the Holy Land. It was his Holy Land too since he was Jewish.
Perhaps he invited us because of my interest in a piece of Roman Glass that he had purchased on a trip to Jerusalem a few years before. He made us a deal we couldn’t refuse – he would pay the land part of the trip if we would pay for the airfare and he would accompany us and be our guide.
I was born in Brooklyn and snapped up the offer. As the years progressed he became a dear friend and mentor known as Uncle Monroe to all of our children. No Scrooge here.
This was the first time Margaret and I had traveled out of the United States. The flight was long and uneventful. We made a sleepy arrival at Lod Airport in Tel Aviv (I believe it is now called Ben Gurion Airport).
As we were making our way to the baggage area I noticed a young man strolling casually around. He was dressed in dark green. The one thing that made him stand out was the assault rifle he was holding with a full 30 shot banana clip inserted. I then remarked to Margaret “I don’t think we are in the United States anymore.”
Times have changed haven’t they? We traveled the length and breath of Israel (it’s not that large a country). We saw The Kennedy Memorial, Yad Vashim (the Holocaust Memorial), the source of the Jordan River, Bethlehem, Sfad (with a beautiful old temple completely covered inside with religious paintings), desert with a camouflaged tank, a winery owned by the Rothschild Family, stayed at a Kibutz on the sea of Galilee, and Margaret waded in the Dead Sea.
We took a rusty old cable car to the top of Masada, and last, but not least, spent three days in Jerusalem. The biggest letdown was The Church of the Holy Sepulcher; it was noisy, crowded and dark.
Our Jewish guide through the church told us it was a good thing that it was owned by Muslims because they constantly had to keep the peace between the various Christian sects who were always battling over turf.
The most inspiring place we visited was The Garden of Gethsemane. It was outside the old walled city and across the fabled valley of Kedron. This time we were with an Arab guide since it was the Jewish Sabbath. It was a very plain church with a small walled garden outside filled with olive trees.
Our guide broke off a small twig from one of the trees and said we should keep it as a souvenir. I guess I looked a little puzzled until he explained that “olive trees rarely die and it was possible that this one was here when Jesus went through his agony in the garden.”
Later, at lunch with our Arab guide, Monroe mentioned that if three people representing three great religions could sit down and have a convivial lunch, why couldn’t the rest of the world do the same?
Later that day we visited an antique shop and viewed a number of examples of Roman glass. I purchased one of lesser value because they started at $60.
As we left for home, airport security was very tight. Everything we had was checked thoroughly, bags and packages had to be opened (Margaret wondered if they enjoyed rummaging through the dirty laundry).
At last the inspector came to the box containing my treasured specimen of Roman glass, I requested that he be careful handling the glass since the iridescence on the outside was very fragile and it was “Roman glass.” He gave me a rather strange look but he was very careful while making his inspection.
Then he said, “It’s not Roman glass.” My mouth fell open and thoughts of the amount I had paid for what I assumed was a 2,000 year old relic. He must have noticed my astonishment because he said “Don’t get upset, it’s not Roman it’s Byzantine, which means it only about 1,800 years old.”
It was a great trip, one that Margaret and I am eternally grateful to Monroe for his generosity.
And that my friends is my tale of the Roman Glass.
Bob Becker is a resident of Richfield Springs.