From Vaisler Brothers to Tel Aviv

by John RC Potter (March 2024)

Israel Tourism poster, by Paul Kor for Arkia Airlines, 1960


One year of university, then a gap year—no five!
Went out to work, had to pay the bills.
A retail clerk at Vaisler’s, a clothing emporium
in east London, when it was still bustling.
(London! Oh no, not the jolly olde one;
but London Ontario Canada.)
One side men’s clothing, the other women’s wear;
two openings between, like porticos,
to allow for ease of passage (and gossip).

My bosses were Jewish-Canadian,
self-made men, pillars of the community.
I admired their business savvy,
as well as their wealth and success.
The woman’s manager was Ida,
a shrewd and intelligent woman,
always perfectly coiffed and dressed impeccably.
Ida took me under her wise wing,
and became a mentor of mine.
——————-She once said to me with a steely voice and eye:
——————-“Mr. Hitler took all my relatives from me.”
Little did I know that many years hence,
my life’s journey would take me
from these Jewish managers and mentors
to Eretz Israel and the bustle of Tel Aviv.

From the plane’s window, a glimpse of blue sea, silver sand, and blond beach.
A sense of history and time’s passage; what lay beyond one’s reach.

For a year I lived in Tel Aviv,
not far from the Ben Gurion House.
Wandering streets that called me home.
Walking into my past across the millennia,
mullioned memories of spaces and places:

The corner of Gordon and Dizengoff,
where my imagination took lift-off.
From Ben Yehuda to Arlozorov
Boker tov! L’hitra’ot! Mazel tov!
Then making my way back home on two tired feet,
to my cosy nest on Eduard Bernstein Street.


Table of Contents


John RC Potter is an international educator from Canada, living in Istanbul.  He has experienced a revolution (Indonesia), air strikes (Israel), earthquakes (Turkey), boredom (UAE), and blinding snow blizzards (Canada), the last being the subject of his story, “Snowbound in the House of God” (Memoirist, May 2023). His poems, stories, essays, and reviews have been published in a range of magazines and journals, most recently in Blank Spaces, (“In Search of Alice Munro”, June 2023),  Literary Yard (“She Got What She Deserved”, June 2023), Freedom Fiction (“The Mystery of the Dead-as-a-Doornail Author”, July 2023), The Serulian (“The Memory Box”, September 2023), The Montreal Review (“Letter from Istanbul”, November 2023) and Erato Magazine (“A Day in May 1965”, January 2024). His story, “Ruth’s World” (Fiction on the Web, March 2023) was nominated for the prestigious Pushcart Prize. His children’s picture book, The First Adventures of Walli and Magoo will be published in the autumn of 2024.

Follow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast


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