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Architecture and Urban Planning - A Memoir \ David Best
I 1950 - 1960
"Rechter", he told me, "is occasionally right, (aclever two language pun, as`recht' is `right' in German) your professional future David, lies in Tel-Aviv, it will take twenty years before Jerusalem becomes a thriving city. With your energy you should go to Tel-Aviv - go, go, go!” he bawled out loudly. The staff wondered what I had done wrong.

  I had been in Tel-Aviv the first time in the summer of 1950, it was now the spring of 1952. Compared to England, on my first visit the buildings of Tel Aviv seemed then to be a scintillating white, this time I detected a stain or two, a crack here and there, the patina of life I generously thought; I was being taken by Mr Rechter (as I always called him) through the small streets around Sheinkin Street, close to his office at number 8 Engle Street. He was taking me in hand in order to find a room for me to rent. He would decide on one of the apartment building, he preferred the older ones, then he would say; “you wait down here, and I will go up and speak to the old lady”, and would zip up the stairs to negotiate the rent. His efforts and generosity to get me a good deal was not entirely philanthropic on his part, as my salary would be a function of the rent. But after all, I could not speak Yiddish and I did not know any Hebrew, so I would not have been able to negotiate the rent myself, and in any case he really was concerned about my welfare. He would assiduously check out the bed and the functioning of the W.C.  General cleanliness maybe was not one of his priorities, though he might have thought, with some justifications from my general appearance in those days, that this was not one of mine either. At any rate, he finally brought this Odyssey to a successful haven at Number 12 Meltchett St., ten minutes walk to the office (not even a bus fare required), 35 Pounds a month, and the opportunity of having breakfast with Max Brod every morning in the cafe on the corner of Shenkin Street. Only once did I pluck up courage to ask Max Brod about his friend Franz Kafka, one of my literary heroes.  In spite of the many mornings of practice, my question came out pathetically as: “You knew Kafka didn’t you?” Max Brod boringly raised his head from a plate of pickled herring, and with a little sliver still clinging to the corner of his mouth, pronounced “Ya”, and that was it! The greatest lost literary opportunity of my life!              

  My new room was big, no balcony but with two windows and good through ventilation. The only real draw back as I saw it was that I would not be alone. The room would be shared with a Polish immigrant, a bank clerk, who frightened me at first when I saw him putting on a hair net before retiring to bed. My anxiety was calmed however by Mr Rechter, who was himself originally Polish and seemed to know about these things. He assured me that the use of hairnets by men was an old Polish custom entirely unconnected with gender problems; it was in order to present a groomed appearance in the morning. This part of the explanation might have also been an indirect piece of fatherly advice with regard to my own somewhat disheveled appearance in the morning at his office. I had found out during my University days that I could dispense with hairdressers by using a special comb, which had a sharp knife, attached to it. I had used this weapon with reasonably good results until I got married; Mr. Rechter apparently was not convinced. 

  But all these minor practical aspects of my life were exiled to the periphery of my thoughts however, which were obsessively concentrated on my professional advancement. Architecture was what it was all about.
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