FEBRUARY 19, 1952
TEL AVIV, Israel, Monday—On Friday morning we arose at 5:30 and by 6:30 we were already started on our drive to Alenby Bridge where the consul general, Mr. Tyler, from Jerusalem was meeting us.
In Amman, Jordan, there is a fine Roman amphitheatre but not much else close at hand of historic interest. However, I was glad to see Mr. and Mrs. Drew before they went home and two British acquaintances who were in Washington with the Embassy when my husband was assistant Secretary of the Navy.
I tried to forget everything else today except Biblical history because the land we were driving through was so full of the Bible story that even watching the landscape reminded one of it.
Over all the hills there were flocks and every so often a lonely shepherd would stand out against the sky, wrapped in his big cloak. It made one realize how real the story was of the shepherd who searched for the one lost sheep and, upon finding him, wrapped him in his cloak and brought him home rejoicing.
We crossed the River Jordan and saw the place where St. John the Baptist baptized Jesus Christ.
We drove down to the Dead Sea and had a look at it, surrounded by the rocks that showed how much higher it once was. It was strange to pass a sign marked "sea level" and go on down and down. And I must say that, though these mountains are not high, the roads, while good, twist and turn and everyone travels them at breakneck speed. I just made up my mind that our chauffeurs were experts and forgot about the speed and enjoyed the scenery.
Much rain this year has made grass grow wherever there is any possible chance of its growing, and the Arabs are good gardeners. They terrace even what looks like nothing but rock and something grows; even fruit trees thrive.
The almond trees are in bloom and on the hills are countless red poppies.
Jericho is no longer the old walled city of Joshua's day, but even the name is impressive. And driving into Jerusalem is more of an emotional experience than I had anticipated.
We stopped at one of the gates to the old city and walked from then on.
First we visited the Omar Mosque, which is built around and over the great rock where Abraham went with his son, Isaac, for the sacrifice. I think this is the most beautiful mosque I have seen.
I would have liked to have had time to go up on the old wall and sit a while but it was not possible. We walked through the crowded streets of old Jerusalem and saw the Wailing Wall, the Stations of the Cross and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The last named is not so impressive today because all the old rocks are covered with marble and one can only get a look at them here and there.
I got glimpses every now and then behind the little doors in the walls of the old city, which made me realize that perhaps back of these small and crowded streets, lined with shops, there might lie quite attractive living rooms. This was the world of long ago and the people were the people of long ago.
We finally came out at the Damascus Gate and I met Mrs. Vesta whom I had met long ago in the United States. We all went to the memorial service for King George VI in the Anglican Church.
Afterwards we crossed the barrier at the Mandelbaum Gate into Israel and lunched at our consul general's house.
I had time before leaving Jerusalem only to visit one of the Hadassah hospitals, the one devoted to the care of children with tuberculosis. Then, on the way to Tel Aviv, we stopped at the Eddie Cantor Youth Aliya Center, where 50 children, looking well and happy, are housed. It warmed the heart, for they were so evidently cared for with love.
Finally, we reached Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion's house at five o'clock. My impressions of the prime minister will have to wait until tomorrow.