My brother found this old photo of me (we thought was long lost) from 1968 taken a few months after our summer-long vacation in Europe. I know I don't look 23, barely 17 perhaps, but not 23. That summer my brother and I toured over 9,000 miles through Europe including a few countries behind the Iron Curtain.
Here are a few previous articles where I recount some of the events during that summer:
- Ethnic Cleansing is Sometimes a Good Thing: In the Polish city of Gdansk a man offered to buy the shoes I was wearing. They weren't anything special, but he wanted them because they weren't made in a Communist country; that is to say, they were made well.
- Bernie`s Bic Vacation: My brother and I pay for our time in Communist countries by selling Levis, stockings, sweaters, Bic pens and Playboy Magazines. We made so much money we lived like kings.
- How Jews Saved the World from Tyranny: We have an accident in Poland and get our car fixed in Munich which exposes us to the uber-efficiency of German mechanics. It's inconceivable that they lost the war but I then explain how it happened.
- Polish Post Office is my Former Home: My brother and I form a student charter to Europe to help pay our airfare. We also use a unique buy-and-sell a car, equivalent to a 3 month lease enabling us to get the use of a car for the entire summer for less than $200.00 per month.
- Government Run Food Care: Poland's government-run restaurants give us a taste of what it is like when the government is in charge of providing food.
- The World Deserves Obama: 1968 - It was a summer of riots in dozens of European cities. A French Gendarme whacks my camera with his baton.
- The Gratitude of Muslims: We go halfway into Yugoslavia, arriving in the town of Pec, in what is now Kosovo, when we find out that the maps lied: there is no more highway or any road at all. We had to drive through forests to reach Greece.
I have planned some more articles about the Summer of 1968. Especially about my first cousin Halina. My mother had some sisters in Poland and asked me to pay them a visit. So in the last month of our summer vacation we rolled up to the apartment building in Bialystok, Poland where one of my aunts lived, the one with two beautiful young daughters aged 15 and 18.
There were few tourists in Poland in 1968 and the country was not geared up for entertaining visitors; however Halina took my brother and me on a tour of Poland that few tourists would ever see. The story of what happened that summer, and how I came to marry my cousin a year later, will be forthcoming.