Lest We Forget

a touring exhibition of visual art and prose vignettes illustrating the early years of the Holocaust in Nazi Germany
and the refugee experience.

Pocono Vacation

  In the musty 19th-century hotel lobby, floor lamps stand at attention next to enormous overstuffed chairs enveloping a few elderly men shielded by newspapers. The dark hardwood counter, elegant and worn, is staffed by a man in a blue uniform with lots of gold braid, designed for an admiral demoted to hotel clerk.
Papa, in his best broken English, announces with confidence, “We have a reservation for a week.”
“Sir, we don’t accept Jews or dogs,” says the clerk.
Without missing a beat Papa looks to the right and to the left. “Jews,” he shouts in a frightened tone. “Jews. Where are Jews?”
I recognize the trick. The clerk doesn’t. Papa’s act convinces the clerk that we’re not Jewish. He apologetically explains that the resort has never allowed Jewish clientele. “Of course!” says Papa. “I understand.”
I’m furious. I imagine the clerk speaking German.
“Juden sind hier unerwünscht.” Jews are not welcome here.
The clerk begins to babble assurances about cleanliness and racial purity. He leans close to Papa, “The Jews control the banks and are greedy to the core. A momentary pause for air and the clerk wanders in a new direction. “Everyone knows that they rarely bathe and I can smell a Jew two blocks away.”
Papa is ready to make his point. He grasps the clerk’s forearm holding him close and in a loud whisper says, “My boy and I really are Jewish. It seems you can’t smell us after all.”
While traveling to the Poconos I told Papa about the Lone Ranger and Tonto. Now, on the train back home, Papa explains that Tonto would not have been welcome at this hotel either.

Click on the art to see an enlarged image.