Slow Dancing in Rapid City


My grandfather and Leah Gelbart's grandfather were brothers in Riga, Latvia. Mine moved to Wheeling, West Virginia, hers stayed in Europe. Leah was born in Riga and moved to Los Angeles with her two young sons in the late 'seventies. Recently widowed--her husband, Harry Gelbart, barber to the stars and father of screenwriter Larry Gelbart (M*A*S*H, Oh God), adored her for over twenty years--Leah moved three months ago to Rapid City, where her son, attorney Robert Gusinsky, lives. Rob had offered us each a guest room, and Bernie and I slept quite comfortably that night. I met my cousin for the first time at about 11:30 PM, when he came home from work and I was up composing web pages on my lap top in the dining room. He was working overtime to compensate for the week he took off riding his Harley at the rally in Sturgis. He's heading for another one at Telluride over Labor Day weekend. He had to be in the office at 6 AM the next morning. He said that his mother would be by in the morning to visit with me.



Leah has a totally charming Russian accent, and the irresistable self-assurance of a person raised with unconditional love. Bernie and I would have happily visited with her for a week.


She made us a breakfast of French toast and told us the story of her life. We were both totally mesmerized for a couple of hours. We wanted to tell her our stories, too, but we realized we had to saddle up and ride.



First stop in Rapid City, the Twiggs Company--the cheerful folks who warehouse and ship the merchandise offered on my web site. Alas, Denise Twiggs missed my visit due to a medical appointment in Colorado. Her mother, Mary, and daughter, Christy, showed me around the premises and added another box of CDs to my travel supplies.



A few miles south of Rapid City stands Mount Rushmore. I had wondered what inspired the carving of these huge neo-classical faces into a mountain. Answer: the mountain has faces on it already, most of them more interesting to my eye than the four presidents. Looked at as a line-up of ten faces, the piece takes on an evolution closer to Picasso's Les Demoiselles d' Avignon.


After a replenishment of baked tofu and organic cucumbers at Staples and Spices, and a long but successful search to replace the berserk mouse for my laptop, we did not have time to visit the Badlands National Park on our way from Rapid City to Sioux Falls, but I snapped a faraway shot from Highway 90 as we sped by.