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Architecture and Urban Planning - A Memoir \ David Best
II 1960 - 1970
Time-out at the M.I.T.
    One night during the Six-Day War, I had said to myself; that if I ever got out of this business unharmed, I would take a break from my previous life and go away for a year to study.  Back home, this promise became an obsession to the point of proposing to my partner that each one of us should take consecutively a year off from the office.  He had not served in the army for some reason and did not oppose the idea that I needed the break and that I should go first.  Put under pressure, I was always able to act quickly and efficiently.  By October 3rd, 1967, the plane landed at Logan Airport in Boston, Mass.  I had with me my wife, three boys of 12, 7 and 2 years old, and a letter from Professor Lloyd Rodwin accepting my request to study at the M.I.T. School of Town planning, on the Special Programme of Urban and Regional Studies.  It was a bit late in the day, but I had vouched to get a proper education as an urban planner.  I was about to keep my promise.

    The last time I had been in the United States was in World War II when I was a sixteen and a half year old British Merchant Seaman.  Two years later I went up to Manchester University that was in October 1946.  I considered that date as the end of my more or less innocent youth.  The second period of young manhood ended with the Six-Day War, when I was approaching 39 years old and felt that I had already undergone the experiences of a lifetime.  In endeavouring to reconstruct different periods from my life, I have had to be necessarily selective, but not with any preconceived criteria.  Past's experience that came most easily and vividly to my mind seem to have asserted them selves without my effort to evoke them.  Describing my experiences during this year in America I fear will be even more episodic, as so much happened in such a short period of time and in such a different miluel, it was like a floating bubble hermetically sealed from the rest of my life, but with a transparency of critical importance.  One of the purposes of taking time out from Israel was to enable me to look back at the past seventeen years of my professional activities, as well as to tentatively speculate on the next period of my career.  It could more accurately be called a watershed.

    In choosing M.I.T. I had taken advice from my good friend and mentor Yehuda Tamir. Some few years before, he had also taken a year out from his Government post and had told me about Prof. Lloyd Rodwin who headed the Special Programme for Urban and Regional Studies at which Yehuda himself had been a Fellow.  Prof. Rodwin had responded quickly and positively to my request to study at M.I.T.  I had no time to arrange a stipend, which would have delayed the commencement of my studies by a year.  There was no other alternative than putting all my small savings on this card, with the hope that the gamble would pay off.  What the gamble implied, or for that matter, what the nature of the pay-off would be, I had not the faintest idea.  I think apart from the need for 'time out' after the war, I simply enjoyed the fact that at forty I could still be spontaneous and a trifle irresponsible.  It was to her extraordinary credit that Rina not only didn't question my decision, but also mildly encouraged it.  As far as the boys were concerned, they simply liked the idea of flying, where to and what for were of no importance to them.
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