When Lois and I visited Israel in the Spring of 1973 around six months before the Yom Kippur War, the atmosphere between the Jews and the Arabs seemed reasonably quiescent. One more cautious than me would have grasped that the boiling passions between the two sides were just below the surface. Danger lurked everywhere. Trusting and optimistic Larry chose to book us into the American Colony Hotel, a posh Jordanian establishment which had long been in Jordan until the Israeli victory in 1967. While no untoward incidents threatened us during our stay at the hotel, being a guest there placed us close to dangerous sites. Take our first night. After dinner I suggested we cross the nearby old city to the Wailing Wall and the Dome of the Rock, today a location of constant strife. Armed Israeli guards stood at the centuries old gate which provided entrance to the city. That should have tipped us off. Entering the narrow streets of the city where souks and stores lined the way. There were no more guards as we traversed the city from one side to the other, the sights were fascinating to our inquisitive eyes, bending our minds away from any danger. We came out to the great and wide plaza where we saw the Wailing Wall, and high above the Dome of the Rock, and armed Israeli guards all about. The failing light, made it a mysterious and thrilling scene. We approached close to the wall, observed those in prayer, and then retreated back through the darkening Old City to return to our hotel.
Still unwisely adventurous, I suggested to my trusting bride that we venture into the West Bank to the rarely visited Herodion, where it is said Herod is buried. No one was in sight when we arrived. We were alone in Arab territory. I could navigate my car only part of the way up the circular road that led to the top where one could look down on the ancient burial site. Lois claimed she was too tired to walk up. I did so, placing her out of my sight for a short time. When I returned there was an old Arab lady sitting nearby whom Lois said had engaged her in conversation. Let’s face it! I had taken us to a location where we were sitting ducks. Lucky for us, we drove back to Jerusalem unhindered. It could have been the end right there close to Herod.
I had told Jordan I would relate our adventures on The Plains of Abraham. A keen student of history, he missed on this one, thinking it was in Israel, as I thought he might. I related to Jordan that the plains are in Quebec City, and it is where the French under General Montcalm were defeated by the English under General Wolfe in 1759, making America English speaking, despite both generals being killed in the battle. My close call there was taking a horrific fall while skating in the lee of the magnificent hotel, Chateau Frontenac, proving yet again the hard bones in my head were matched by those in my hip, protecting me yet again from serious injury.
To Jordan’s amusement I related how we then drove north along the magnificent St. Lawrence River to Point a Pique, a village close to one hundred miles from Quebec City, staying on New Year’s Eve at a Quebecois hotel where we were the only Americans. At the raucous party, the hotel manager chose me to be his dance partner, not his beautiful Japanese wife, which Jordan jokingly described as another close call, “almost fooling around with the hotel manager.” Not likely. I wisely chose Lovely Lois.
People, Always People!