After my excursion to Ting-Dong Dagan, where Matkot paddles are made, I ventured up the road to Neve Tzedek, the first neighborhood in Tel Aviv, to visit the Museum of Matkot. Located in the second story apartment of Amnon Nissim, the apartment/museum is a shrine to all things matkot (and it turns, out, music and cats, too). A small man with a soft raspy voice excitedly greeted me and proudly walked me into his expansive apartment. Two large rooms with towering ceilings were covered with matkot paddles, matkot trinkets, matkot shirts, matkot trophies (how, I asked if there’s no winner? These were just gifts, I was told) and non-usable artistic matkot paddles (marble, crochet, painted with landscapes, Elvis’ face, glued on seashells, etc), and matkot gifts from fans around the globe. I also received a history lesson on matkot paddles and walked through an informal timeline of the development of matkot paddles’ designs, from heavy wood to today’s carbon.
Amnon is also a lover of music and the third large room in his house is devoted to all things music. He is a fan of Elvis, Perry Como and Frank Sinatra and has a wall of vinyls and CDs along with everything from a CD player to a record player to a very large 2 reel tape machine (not even sure what this is called). Where the walls don’t have matkot stuff, there are paintings of water scenes, often in neon shades. There are also certificates, pictures with politicians (ranging the political spectrum from Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai to Avigdor Lieberman) and large pictures of cats. It turns out the massive cat photos posted on a door lead to a room where Amnon keeps cats. He also cares for outdoor cats but this are his indoor cats.
Amnon, whose family was from Yemen, was born and raised in the apartment (as explained on a massive matkot paddle nailed to the wall). When Amnon is not tending to his apartment/museum he spends his time playing matkot at Gordon beach. As Amnon walked down to the street, the Frank Sinatra music from his apartment echoed in the street. He showed me his 8 chairs on the street corners (half of them are at a corner across from his apartment, above a multi-million dollar penthouse under construction) and introduced me to the street cats that he cares for as well. Smiling, he waved me off and encouraged me to visit him at Gordon Beach.