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Architecture and Urban Planning - A Memoir \ David Best
I 1950 - 1960
From where and why did you come here?
   Throughout my first visit in Israel, I was continually being asked questions as to where I came from and why had I come to Israel?  I was also asked what my father did for a living and how much he earned per month.  Disregarding the last two questions, which apparently every Israeli asks everybody else, I did recognize that the other questions were legitimate ones with regard to a newcomer like myself and I considered that they required a reasonable response. Being rather loquacious by nature, I would entertain my questioners to a comprehensive version of my relatively short life story to the present date. Engrossed in the interesting details, it took some time before I noticed the exasperated expressions on the faces of my listeners, who by this time were sorry that they had ever inquired about me at all. The following is a short a version of my answer to those poor entrapped questioners. Unlike them however, readers have the opportunity to skip lightly through the following few pages until they reach the section on my eventual immigration to Israel and subsequent professional life in that country. 

   Recollections of my very early childhood seemed to have got lost in a mist of memories and I was only able to recover the most fragmented incidents that connected me to the faded sepia snap-shots of myself as a little child on the beach in the holiday resort of Hoylake.   Strangely enough, it was only recently that have I succeeded to penetrate back to significant reminiscences of more sequential episodes. A particular one I believe in retrospect to have been the subconscious origin of my desire to become an architect. It was when I was a little child in my hometown of Liverpool.  The city was continuing its rapid decline from being a major sea port and industrial centre on the North West Coast of England. Large sections of the town already consisted of soot-black deteriorating housing, whose living room basement windows, facing the narrow open ‘areas’ along the street front, projected slightly above the pavement level. My first memories of that part of the city where my father had grown up were of walking with him, hand in hand. along streets bordered by such houses. I was amazed and disturbed by the sight of young children's faces peering up at me frome the grimy basement windows. On the other hand the sight of robust ladies on their knees singing while scrubbing the outside stone doorsteps of their homes delighted me. I must have been about four years old and whether or not I was a precocious child, as my aunts would tell everybody, I can remember how puzzled I was by the contrast between the sad expressions on the children's faces and the cheerfulness of the ladies in their pride in putting up the best possible show of welcome to their homes, in spite of their abject living conditions. Many years later I would recognize that such ‘pride of place’ however humble, was one of the most essential ingredients of urban living. 

   I also can remember quite vividly the tiny bedroom, which I had on the top floor of the house above my parent's shop in Penny Lane. As a small child I suffered from nightmares, but amongst them was one peaceful recurring dream which I have been able to recollect in detail. 

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