Oral History Lives at the Retirement Center

One of the perks of living in the retirement home is the boost that my cultural side is getting. There is a lecture every evening at 6:30 sharp. There is music on Friday evenings and a classical concert on Saturday mornings. I’m getting all of this without leaving home, so to speak. I hope I don’t overdose.

The evening lectures are a sell-out, no matter what the subject. The other evening a very erudite man delivered a lecture on a topic related to the history of Israel. It was fascinating. He started off in a curious manner. He asked, rather hesitantly, if there was anyone in the audience who had been present on a ship that was sunk off the Tel Aviv beach in 1948. No one moved a muscle. He heaved a visible sigh of relief and said, “Good. Now I will continue.” He went on to tell the story of the shelling, the sinking, the political arguments and the complicated background leading to that fateful day.

“It was on the 14th of June that the prime minister made an announcement …”

“It was the 13th!” shouted a voice from the third row. “I was working in the prime minister’s office and I typed the words for him!” It was the 93 year old lady, Sarah, from the fourth floor.

“Okay, it was the 13th, I apologize.”

Silence.

“Three days later they fired on the ship at 3:10 in the afternoon.

“It was exactly at 3:27!” said a loud voice. “I was on the beach with the new watch my grandfather had bought me and I was checking the time every few minutes to make sure the watch was going!” Solomon, 91, fifth floor.

“I beg your pardon, 4 o’clock,” corrected the lecturer…

More silence.

“Now on the 9th of August the president signed the paper that…”

“It was the 10th. I happened to be in his office at that moment…” Judith, 94, fourth floor.

Good thing no one in the auditorium had been on the ship…

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