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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Salt Lake City

I thought that I would gamble at least a little, so I put a dollar bill into one of the machines at the airport. Easily lost money. After just an hour in the air, I arrived in Salt Lake City in the evening. Checked in to the Plaza Hotel at Temple Square. Friday and Saturday were spent doing research at the Family History Library next door to the hotel. The library is five storeys and contains the largest collection of genealogy materials in the world. There are 200 computers with databases, 2.5 million microfilm rolls with scanned records, 700 000 microfiche and 300 000 genealogy books. All of it is run by the mormons at no charge for the visitors. The opening hours are generous, 13 hours most days, closed only on Sundays. The research was successful in some cases and not at all in some. The research I had been asked to do regarded very different locations. Examples: Königsberg/Kaliningrad, Nova Scotia, Lancashire, Brooklyn, Ireland and Boston. After two full days in front of the computer/microfilm screens my brain was in need of a break. Saturday evening I attended a concert by the Utah Symphony Orchestra. The guest conductor Marvin Hamlisch from New York entertained the audience with his Jewish jokes (in a mormon town) and also his music. He has written music for Hollywood movies, for instance A Chorus Line and Sophie's Choice, and has worked with Barbra Streisand. We also got to hear some other popular pieces by Irving Berlin, Scott Joplin and others. The pieces I recognized the best were Ol' Man River and Oklahoma. Very nice concert.

Sunday in such a religious town was in my personal opinion rather boring. The library was closed and so was much else. I spent half an hour in the Planetarium looking at the exhibit, and then I walked for over an hour to a mall. Unfortunately, the effects of the financially bad times had put a large number of the shops out of business. There was nothing there to see, so I had lunch at Hard Rock Cafe instead. In the afternoon I took the lightrail to another mall, which was larger and had a nice book store.

Monday morning I did even more research, and after having lunch at the only restaurant within five blocks, I went to the airport. Salt Lake City really isn't a tourist oriented town, but I guess few people would go there just to see the town. There is a large convention center, the Library and sports centers in the mountains that attract visitors.

Late Monday evening Nancy and her husband came to pick me up at the gigantic airport O'Hare in Chicago. Today (Tuesday) I went with Nancy, her daughter Debbie and grandson Nolan (aged five months) to lunch. I had a very nice lobster sandwich. We also went to a pumpkin farm, where they had images of Disney characters for the kids to play around outdoors, among other things. We didn't get any pumpkins, but we managed to get Nolan to pose for several pictures. Nancy and I spent the afternoon shopping for souvenirs, and later in the evening we went to a movie, Nights in Rodanthe. A romantic and also sad story with Richard Gere.

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