Broker Check

August 20, 1998

Oh, Beautiful!

          I started to write this, as we were broken down, on Interstate 40 somewhere between Little Rock and Memphis. It has been three weeks since we started our vacation, the last long, big vacation before our oldest, Sari, goes off to Syracuse University and Melissa, a year later. The dynamics of the family will never be the same, so we wanted one more trip with our “babies”.

          Going to work each day in New York, one loses sight of the beauty that is America, both in its landscape and its people. We tend to think of Americans as who is portrayed in movies and television. Our trip covered the southern part of the U.S. including St. Louis, Branson, Oklahoma City, Amarillo, Sante Fe, Durango, Four Corners, Monument Valley, Lake Powell, Grand Canyon, Holbrook, Oracle, Tucson, Kitts Peak, Tombstone, Safford, Morenci, Deming, El Paso, San Antonio, Dallas, Murfreesboro, Hot Springs, Mt. Ida, Memphis, Nashville and Wheeling. We broke down twice, once in Durango, Colorado and once on that Interstate outside of Hazan, Arkansas. Based on the media I should have been overcharged by the small town auto repair stores run by Cro-Magnon looking overall-clad Northerner hating good ol’ boys. They did wear coveralls, but we were treated with so much courtesy and respect and better than at most New York and New Jersey garages we have known. These small businessmen were what the local chambers of commerce imagine them to be.

 For Spacious Skies

          It’s easy to see why the heartland is religious; there is sky for as long as the eye can see. From horizon to horizon, the plains states are devoid of trees. You can see the weather coming in from the Rockies. It’s almost as if you can see the power of G-d. In fact, the most unusual radio commercial we heard was for a religious bootcamp, run for young adults, by the Methodist Church.

For Amber Waves of Grain

          There is no shortage of land planted for food in America. In the Big Apple we are told we’re running out of space; we’re not. In New York we think a rich ethnic mix means persons from other countries. In the West, it means Native Americans (of which we saw many types, mostly Ute and Navajo) and leathery looking hard scrabble types of Americans not seen in primetime TV or New York, either.

For Purple Mountains Majesty

          Never knew there were so many mountains in Arizona. Oh yes, the Rockies are purple. They start as a purple blur on the horizon seen almost to the Mississippi River. Then the blur keeps rising higher and higher until you are finally are confronted with a vertical wall.

Above the Fruited Plain

          Branson Missouri was a hoot! Kind of like Lancaster, Pennsylvania with dinner shows (breakfast, lunch and between snacks too!) I now know what happened to Andy Williams, the Osmonds, Yakov Smirnoff and other entertainers from the 70’s; they have twice daily shows in their own theaters in Branson. Tourists descend by the busload and we were the only Eastern license plate in sight. It was nostalgic to hear jokes and monologues devoid of profanity.

America, America

           Some states really stand out from the others. For example:

          Arkansas:       Thank G-d Clinton didn’t do as good a job on America as 
                                  he did in Arkansas. His boyhood home of  Hot  Springs is
                                  decrepit  and scary.   In  a  very  poor state  with the most
                                  dangerous roads I have ever encountered;  they  have two
                                  way traffic on the  service roads  along  the  highway.  Try
                                  exiting from the highway onto one!

          Texas:             The worst drivers I have ever seen . They are in a class all
                                   their own. They do not believe in entrance ramps. A  very
                                   “big” state. We drove for three days before leaving it.  So
                                   big, didn’t see any out of state license plates.  Hotter than
                                   Hell, the heat  just  sucked  the  breath  out of your body.
                                   Riverwalk, in San Antonio alone, is worth the visit. Didn’t
                                   expect the Texas Book Depository to be as  crowded  as
                                   Yad Vashem. It was extremely well  done and  balanced.

          Arizona:             Lake Powell  is magnificent  and I hope the Easterners
                                    don’t learn about this incredibly beautiful and underutilized
                                    federal resort area. Grand Canyon is Grand and  worth  a
                                    hike of a couple of miles into it.  Forget  Armageddon, or
                                    Deep Impact--see the real thing at  Meteor  Crater.  Who
                                    expected a  Jewish  Memorial  in  Boot  Hill  Cemetery  in
                                    Tombstone?   White   mountains,  pink   mountains,   grey 
                                    mountains, etc.

          Oklahoma City:  There’s a sense  of  something lost where the bombing
                                      took place.   The  fence  is movingly   decorated  with
                                      offerings from moved Americans.

          Worst Person Met on the Trip: The Ford dealer in Durango, Colorado
                                      who couldn’t give  us  an  appointment to fix our car for
                                      three days.

          Best Person Met on the Trip:    The repair shop in Durango that gave us
                                      an appointment for 8 A.M. the next morning.


          We last went cross country in 1992 during the summer of the Bush-Clinton Presidential campaign (see my August 1992 newsletter). A big difference between this trip and the last one was that most tour guides and some people we met on this trip had something to say about the President’s alleged sex life (i.e. at the Louisville Slugger Museum the bats with the Presidential seal were said to be ordered by Hillary to beat away Bill’s girlfriends!). Last time, nobody said anything about President Bush or Candidate Clinton (remember Gennifer Flowers?) much less the race itself. I came away with three thoughts-where are the people who are giving the President his 70% approval rating, the American people, contrary to the press are not tired of the subject, they’re fascinated by it, and nobody talked about the stock market!

          I can’t tell anyone that a three week trip with three teenagers and a very grown-up nine year old (“I’m not an eight year old baby!) in a van in 100 degree heat is pleasurable; but it is memorable. Between games of Scrabble, learning how to compromise and decisions on where to eat our meals and complaining whether there was too much or too little air conditioning, and digging in Arkansas for diamonds, quartz crystals and Arizona rocks and minerals, we became a family again.

          We now prepare for our move to much expanded and spanking new offices at 450 Seventh Avenue. Call with any questions, on our new phone number 695-0440, starting August 31, 1998.