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Does This Happen Anywhere Else??
My father (center) and Daphne's brother-in-law (right) at an office party, circa 1961
by Judy Lash Balint
December 17, 2006

The other morning I was reading the paper in one of my usual neighborhood cafes--a tiny affair decorated with New Yorker covers that features round light wood tables, bins of aromatic coffee beans and friendly staff. All the tables were taken so I wasn't surprised when a slight, older woman asked in Hebrew if she could share mine.

I continued reading the depressing news of the day and she sipped her latte. After a few minutes her cellphone rang and I couldn't help overhearing her side of the conversation conducted in British English about a set of lost car keys.

Since I had suffered a similar loss last year, I commiserated and offered words of wisdom about the tedious replacement process. I finally got around to asking the question all olim ask of each other--how long have you been here and where are you from.

Daphne laughed and told me she and her journalist husband had arrived from London in the 1950s. When I named the small British town 20 miles north of London where I was born, she murmured in recognition. "My sister lived in Welwyn Garden City, and I lived with her for a while during the war," she told me. "Yes..on Digswell Road," she recalled, identifying one of the main streets in town.

That would have been interesting enough--but when she told me her sister's name I got goosebumps. It was a name I had heard throughout my childhood, since her sister's husband was my father's boss for more than twenty years. Both my father and his boss have long since passed on, but Daphne's sister is still alive in England.

We exchanged phone numbers and I have an invitation to tea at Daphne's place next week. I'm planning on bringing the photos of the office New Year's Eve parties of the late 1950s and 60s from my parent's albums. My parents and Daphne's sister and brother-in-law are wearing silly hats and drinking champagne. The idea that Daphne and I would be poring over these pictures in Jerusalem in 2006 would have caused quite a giggle back then.