Thursday, May 20, 2010


I met another Murray the other day. Of course, he’s older than I am. We met at the senior citizens center in the Free Synagogue of Mt. Vernon where I picked up food to be delivered as part of the kosher Meals on Wheels program.

We chatted a few minutes about the “joys” of having a name rarely conferred onto any newborns these days, or for the last five or more decades, for that matter. I told him I wrote a blog about the lack of respect our name generates (

I can think of only one Murray I ever met who was my younger.

Gilda and I were traveling by train from Florence to Venice. It was the summer of 1976. Our first trip to Venice. We were not aware that only the first two cars of the train would be uncoupled for the journey onto the island city. When the conductor eventually made this known to us in the fourth car, we hurriedly assembled our overpacked luggage and jostled our way forward.

I kept hearing my name; Gilda kept denying she was calling me. We finally made it to the second car, Gilda standing next to me. “Murray, wait for me” rang in both our ears. The dulcimer sound came from an attractive blonde. Sure, I’ll wait for you, I thought. Only, she wasn’t talking to me. She was attaching herself to a young gent standing next to me.

Naturally, we introduced ourselves. (Murrays have a certain bond, like Masons or Elks who meet in strange lands. No secret handshake, just a bond. More about that magical bond in another posting next week.) They were on their honeymoon, having married right after graduating from Queens College. His aunt, a travel agent, had gifted them a six-week honeymoon. They were booked into Excelsior hotels throughout Europe. Everything had been pre-planned and pre-paid. All they had to do was show up at their hotels and their respective city tours. They even had the time of their gondola ride scheduled—8 pm that evening.

It was already four weeks into their extensive tour. They were clearly exhausted but couldn’t take the time to rest. Pre-paid hotel reservations could not be changed, so they trekked on.

I asked how they liked Rome. They did. I asked what they thought of the Vatican. They sheepishly said they hadn’t seen it. Huh? Explain yourselves, Murray.

Seems his aunt did not book that tour. Before they realized the Vatican was in Rome they were in Florence. And they couldn’t go back!

My confidence that the exalted name of Murray was bestowed only on the intelligent vanished that instant.

Not all was lost, however. They realized they would not be able to use their passes to the Lido Beach across the channel before having to leave Venice, so they generously gave them to us. That way, at least, the Lido would not go Murrayless. We enjoyed a beautiful day at the beach.