This is a picture of what was once Bransky's Hall, the aforementioned ice cream shop owned by my great grandfather in Baltimore (which I learned was also a confectionery and a place to buy coal. The Branksys lived there, too--I imagine on the upper levels.) It was very exciting to learn the address, to find more about the place through the archives at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Driving to the place itself was quite a terrifying adventure--the neighborhood is very economically depressed now, and I guess I looked like a target in my shiny rental car; I had to do some scary and illegal maneuvers to get away from a beat up van that was trailing me, and I had to race away from a couple of women chasing my car on foot. My finger is in this cell phone photo because the picture was taken in great haste. I wish I could have gotten out of the car, examined the building, touched the original brick that still edges one wall, but I'm so happy to just be able to place the building geographically, to begin to visualize it as it once must have been.
My trip was wonderful--beautiful family togetherness, amazing food (including one of the best new pickles ever at Attman's Delicatessen, which has been around since 1915 and has some fun menu listings, a "Gay Liver-ation" sandwich among them), kick ass bookstores (including a progressive one, and a totally free one), a quick trip to the CODEPINK house in DC, and a stop at the American Visionary Art Museum, which houses one of the most wild and awe-inspiring collections I have seen. My time at Cecil College was a lot of fun, too--I surprised both myself and the audience by singing a bit from Annie Get Your Gun during my talk (I wasn't expecting to do that at all, but the talk was on a stage that was set for a play, and it just triggered something in me.) I'm grateful for the warm welcome there, for the time spent with my sisters, for the time spent reconnecting with my roots, even for the time spent running for my life. Re-entry into my life here has been a bit discombobulating--I got home late Wednesday, taught all day Thursday, and my daughter had her tonsils out this morning--but I am grateful for all of that, as well (especially the fact that Hannah is recovering so beautifully! I wish Bransky's Hall was still around so I could give her some ice cream made by her great-great-grandfather to soothe her aching throat...)