Sun., 29 May 1983
Dear Mom & Dad,
Your last letter got here in only 5 days after you mailed it. We very much enjoy your letters. We appreciate your short and simple letters to the kids, too. Keep them coming. Letters from "home" are especially helpful in our time of trying to get settled.
Our furniture is supposed to be here in about 2 weeks. No one seems to know when the Rabbit will get here. The Fiat looks like a piece of junk, but runs pretty well. Right now it has a terrible rattle when it goes over 45 MPH, but I was told today by an Italian mechanic that it just needs a screw to fix it. I can't imagine anyone ever trying to steal this car, so we aren't worried about losing it. (Actually, I think Jeannie would like to lose it.)
We could use 2 or 3 sermon tapes from J.C., but they ought to be really good ones. We will send them back, but it might take 3 or 4 months for him to get them back. Find out more about J.C. coming for a meeting. How serious was he? Before I mention it to anyone here, I would like to know if he really would and could come.
We did not know about the earthquake in St. Louis. We want to know about news in and around Arkansas. I am interested in big news around Harrison and news about relatives. Tell us about major news or interesting news happening in Arkansas. Let us know about any big changes in the laws in Arkansas, etc. We hear national news that is political. We hear Paul Harvey on the radio 2 or 3 times per week. Jeannie has heard absolutely nothing about "Days of Our Lives."
Jeannie is writing her parents a letter right now, too. So you don't need to send them a copy of this letter.
We have been told that the Red Cross here is very good about getting urgent messages to you very quickly. I don't remember what numbers you were given in April. (Forget them and save these.) The area code here is 081. Between 8 am and 4:30 pm here on week days you should call the Family Practice department 724-3396 or 724-3397. (However, I am off on Tuesday afternoons, and on Wednesdays I will not be at the hospital but rather at the clinic at Pinetamare.) At other times call the main desk at the hospital 724-3300 or 724-3301. They can take a message and tape it to my door for the next day. If it is an urgent message, ask them to try to get a hold of me by paging me on my beeper (which I don't always have on if I'm not on call). I can call in and they can tell me to call you. I will eventually get the number at Pinetamare and send it to you. Of course, we are hoping to have our own phone some day. (As I understand, if I have to return to the U.S. because of a death or a serious illness, you will have to notify the Red Cross, also, so that I will have verification from them so that I can get emergency leave.)
You will find enclosed 3,300 green stamps. We got them in Virginia when we rented our car. Didn't we give you the other green stamps Jeannie had? Do whatever you want with them.
I am also sending a picture of the Naval Regional Medical Center, Naples, from the hospital's monthly newsletter. The hospital isn't nearly as big as it looks because it isn't very wide. My office is on the ground floor on the right side, on the back side (doesn't have a window because the kitchen is behind it). In Italy the ground floor is called "T" floor ("T deck" in the Navy here). The "T" stands for terreno, which means ground floor. The 1st floor is the one above that. So, the top floor at the hospital is the 6th floor.
You will also find enclosed a map of the area so you can see where we live and see where some of the places are that you will hear about from time to time. The road in front of our house is a divided 4 lane. Most of the trip to the hospital is on the Tangenziale, which looks like an interstate highway. The street just off this highway is called "Squeeze Alley" by the Americans. It is here that several lanes of traffic have to turn into 2 lanes for about 2 blocks. This is where I said (in the last letter) that it has the worst traffic you could imagine.
Our house is far enough from Naples that it will take a very big earthquake to be felt out here. Most of the quake activity is centered around Solfatara (#5 on the map). This is awfully close to the hospital. (However, the hospital did survive the last big earthquake here in 1980.) The route to the church is shown in green. It sits near (~100 yds) the water in Bagnoli.
The weather was terrible here from Monday till Thursday morning. It was rainy & cold. At times there was a lot of thunder & lightning. We thought we were going to freeze to death at night. The kids had their blanket sleepers on, but Jeannie & I were chilly all night. The electricity came on & off a lot. The electricity stayed off about an hour Monday night right after we got the kids to bed.
Tuesday afternoon I bought a shower curtain & rod and put them up downstairs around the shower in the bathroom.
Wednesday, after work I went & found a used, Whirlpool gas dryer. Then I picked Jeannie up & we went to see a refrigerator that we decided to get. It will be available in a few days. It is 15 cubic foot, no-frost Sears refrigerator. The compressor is only 3 years old. Wednesday, during the day, I took the CPR course. I finished at 1:30 pm. It was supposed to take all day. Of course, I didn't get to go home at 1:30. I had to go see patients then.
Thursday I rode the bus to work. That was a nice change. I had to stay in the hospital Thursday night. I was the medical officer of the day (MOOD) and covered the emergency room. I don't think I saw but about 6 patients all night and 5 of them were before midnight. Jeannie came up Thursday afternoon to visit. She told me the house wasn't white any more. They finally got to paint the house after the rain stopped. They painted it a light yellow instead of white. The trim is still red. They didn't get the shutters back up till this morning.
Friday after work I hired a guy with a pickup to get our dryer and a stove Jeannie found. I went with him so Jeannie didn't have to pick me up after work. It cost $35 to deliver them. Our stove is a 4-yr.-old gas Magic Chef. The pilot lights on the top burners are turned off. I think we will have to leave the pilot on in the oven. We can't figure out how else to get it to work. It takes a couple of minutes for the oven to light (with the pilot on). I guess the gas pressure is low in these tanks (bombala) as compared to city gas.
Friday was pay day. I changed most of my check into lire. I had over one million lire. I guess I was a millionaire. We wanted the money to shop with this weekend.
Yesterday we bought a TV at AFSouth (the NATO base) for 678,000 lire ($463.75). Now all we need is an antenna and we will be able to use it. While Jeannie shopped at the Exchange, I took the kids to see "Sleeping Beauty." Last night I mowed the yard with one of those lawn mowers that doesn't use gas or electricity, that I borrowed from our neighbor. I could have pulled the grass faster & with less effort.
Friday night we walked across the street to a house that was having a garage sale the next day. We wanted to beat the crowd. We looked at their swing set but didn't buy it. We did buy 4 rugs that I thought were priced well below what most people are asking for rugs around here.
I was on call Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, and today. My beeper has not gone off yet. (Yes, it is working.) I am on call tomorrow, which is a holiday. I only have to go to the hospital to make rounds tomorrow.
We went to church this morning and ate lunch at the missionary's house. They have 2 boys, ages 6 & 7, and a girl, age 3. They live in Quarto. (See the map.) They are Ron & Rusty Winfree. Angelique really has a good time with their little girl Elizabeth (called "Betta" in Italian).
This is the actual paint from our red trim. It is really kind of rusty colored.
Mon., 30 May 1983
Since today was a holiday, I didn't mail this yet. We had a full day today. My beeper finally went off at 8:45 am this morning. Since we were all just about ready to go, we jumped into the car to drive to the hospital. I backed out of the garage & discovered I had a flat tire. The neighbor (Bob Cummings) helped change it and we were on our way. Jeannie dropped me off at the hospital, then went to AFSouth to shop after she got the flat fixed. I delivered the baby and Jeannie came back & got me. Actually, it was timed quite well. Then we ate lunch at an Italian restaurant near NSA. After that we went to the Solfatara. We both wanted to see it before it erupts or whatever. We even had our own guide. It is mostly just a lot of steam. Yellowstone was much more interesting. We walked over several places that the ground was only 9 feet thick. The guide would drop big rocks on it & it sounded like a big drum. At one place he stuck a stick in the ground 6 inches to show that steam would come up out of the hole. We bought a vase there made from lava. Jeannie & I enjoyed it much more than our 2 tired kids did. One of the tickets ("biglietto") is enclosed.
Then we went to AFSouth Hardware Store. (Everything at NSA was closed for Memorial Day.) I bought several things, mostly everything I needed for a TV antenna. At the time, I had no idea how I was going to get it on top of the house or how I was going to keep it up there after I got up there. I really suspected it would be days before I could get it installed. While I was sitting here fixing the wire for the back of the TV (antenna cable), the landlord came by and seemed to know exactly what problem I would have and how to solve it. I am going to have to learn more Italian so I won't seem so dumb to the landlord. (At least I think I give the impression of not being too bright.) Our landlord's name is Diodato Capaldo. He proceeded to go to a nearby house that is being built (by a relative of his) and borrowed a ladder so we could climb up on the roof. He figured out what to do and climbed down. I took everything relating to the antenna up to the roof while he went and got a metal pipe that was welded to a square piece of iron. Then he mixed up some cement and put it around the iron pipe so that antenna pipe could fit into it. It was all too good to be true! What a nice guy! And it didn't cost me anything, either. He left the ladder in place so I could finish putting the antenna together. I worked on it until nearly dark. We even checked it out with the TV, AND IT WORKED! I stood on the roof and held the antenna up while Jeannie & the kids played with the TV, and Jeannie & Angelique yelled out the window if they found a station. One station had cartoons & Angelique begged to watch it, but I didn't plan on standing up there all night. Tomorrow the cement will be dry & we can mount the antenna & play with the TV. Somehow, the TV finds its own channels and we haven't figured out how to help it yet. Sounds crazy, doesn't it? It is a Sony Trinitron color TV with remote control. (We are not living too primitively.) The screen is 20".
We eventually hope to get a Panasonic video cassette recorder (VHS) and maybe even a video camera. That would be a super way to send you pictures of things we see and things the kids are doing. We will have to save our money for that one. In the meantime, you save your money and get a videocassette record ("VHS," not a Betamax). Then you could tape Sesame Street for the kids and send us some American TV. (I am serious.) At least think about it and check into it. Let me know what you think.
We think of you often. I will be thinking of Daddy's birthday tomorrow. I considered calling, but I guess you are at Guard camp this week. I hope you had a nice birthday.
We love you,
Michael, Jeannie, Angelique, & Steven
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