Once upon a time, a young couple fell in love, got married, packed up their belongings and left New York to travel for a year. Soon after, they met a pair of French newlyweds: Claude, a med student and Jacqueline, a budding pharmacist, had come to Israel to live and work for a year. They were staying in a guest house in Haifa and one of the things that attracted them to the Americans was their record collection. This was long before the Age of iPodsâ€”the French had a record player (they’d brought their car across on the ferry) and the Americans had brought albums by strange bands like The Doors, Pink Floyd, and Jimi Hendrix.
The four became fast friends and, 35 years later, they still are, each with a pair of grown sons, and visiting each other whenever they can. Yes, my parents, Beth and Steve, were the stonegroovin’ hippies, and Jacqueline and Claude are our hosts here in Paris:
The first time I had the opportunity to travel with Jacqueline and Claude, I was 6 months old and the five of us roamed around New England and Canada in a VW Microbus.
Jacqueline, now the owner of a pharmacy in NE Paris, has a fascinating family history in Casablanca and beyond; she feeds us and worries over us like a good mother should. Claude is a doctor, a scholar, a musician, and a collector of everything from exotic stringed instruments to comic books to multi-lingual “No Smoking” signs. He has written an extraordinary book, entitled “Judeopostale,” which tells a range of Jewish history anecdotes through stamps, letters, and postcards (he’s looking for a publisher if anyone’s interested). One of the most moving letters is from his father, a holocaust survivor, writing to his wife, still in hiding in Paris.
They are, of course, wonderful hosts, living conveniently above a Metro stop, and giving us full range of their flat and, consequently, all of Paris. We are grateful.
And we are glad that, 35 years ago, when my parents were deciding what to bring and what to leave behind, they chose to pack so much righteous vinyl.