29 May 1983

Sunday Night

Dear Mom & Dad,

Well, we got into our house. I'm enclosing a rough floor plan. There's at least 1800 square feet in it -- probably more. Our landlord, Diodato Capaldo, speaks no English. He installed a new water heater in the downstairs bathroom the day we moved in. The next morning Michael got up early to go to the hospital. Just before he left we heard some strange noise, but weren't too alarmed because the house made strange noises all night long. (I guess our house speaks Italian, too.) Well, when Michael went downstairs he discovered that strange noise. The new water heater was flooding the downstairs. I spent most of the morning sweeping the water into the shower drain. I wasn't too excited about our new house then.

Our landlord & his helpers have spent the last 4 days painting the house & shutters. Our house is now a cream color with rusty red shutters & trim. It looks nice.

It seems like every day we find some new problem with the house. Usually it's the plumbing. Italians use plastic pipes & such.

We bought a used stove & used dryer. We'll be getting a 15 cubic foot used Sears refrigerator sometime this week. There's no problem finding used appliances with people moving out all the time. They just get passed around about every three years. Michael bought a new Sony Trinitron TV yesterday that works both on European & American current. I ordered some walnut wall units from Sweden at a shop on the Allied base. There are 3 big units and they will cover most of one of the walls in the living room. We'll put our TV & stereo on it, plus have lots of other room for books & knickknacks. They won't be here until August or so.

Our other furniture should be here in a couple of weeks. It sure will be good to get it. Maybe it will make this place feel more like home. This loaner furniture is not pretty or comfortable, but better than nothing, I suppose. We bought 4 rugs from some Americans just up the hill from us who are leaving soon. The largest one is about 12' x 12'. We're still looking for wardrobes.

Our neighbors next door are Americans. They have been really helpful. So are the ones across the street. A new house is being built right beside ours and one catty-cornered behind us. I hope some Americans with small children will move into one of them.

It's a battle trying to keep these tile floors clean. This Sahara desert dust comes in the house whether I have it opened or not. It's frustrating when the kids get as dirty playing inside the house as they do playing outside.

The kids are doing much better now that we're in a house and have gotten some of their toys out of our express shipment. Angelique wants to go pick clover every day & Steven wants to go run through the "tunnel." He is really growing again. He's still husky, but not as chubby as he was. He woke up from his nap this afternoon with a fever and cranky. I hope the baby aspirin will take care of his fever & help him sleep tonight.

The kids & I went by Paddington School the other day where Angelique will start in September. She wanted to stay then, but they only have one more week of school left. She'll go on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. It's only a mile from our house and it is almost entirely American & English students & teachers. They also have a day care center on the lower floor where I could leave Steven if I needed to some days, but I didn't like the dim lighting and musty smell down there, so I probably won't leave him there unless I just have to.

Lago Patria, where our house is, is about 15 miles north from the Navy hospital. Downtown Naples is probably another 8 or 10 miles east of the hospital. Mt. Vesuvius is probably another 10 or 15 miles southwest of downtown Naples. So we're probably about 40 miles northwest away from Vesuvius. I hope that will make more sense when you look at the enclosed map. The town that the hospital is in is called Agnano (pronounced "ahn-YAH-no"). The church is in Bagnoli (pronounced "bahn-YO-lee").

A lady at church told me that the Red Cross is not real prompt at getting emergency messages to us. It took her 1 1/2 weeks to find out her grandfather had died and 11/2 days to find out her other grandfather had died. If you should need us, go ahead and contact the Red Cross so they can issue us emergency leave, but also try contacting the hospital. Michael is there from roughly 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM and can be contacted at 081-724-3396 or 3397. That's 1:00 AM till 9:30 AM in Searcy. He is off on Tuesday afternoons. At any other time call the hospital main desk at 081-724-3300 or 3301. Leave a message with them for us to call you and tell them to try to page Michael on his beeper. He might have it on since he is on call about every 3 nights. The 081 is the area code. We are trying to get a phone, but it may take 6 to 30 months before we get one.

As you can tell, we haven't had much time to get bored yet. Our new TV is still sitting in the box since we don't have an antenna up yet. Once we get this house comfortable to us, maybe we'll get a chance to get out & see some of the neat things around here.

Yes, there are strawberries here, but I haven't had a chance to get any yet. I told Michael this morning I wanted to stop on the way home from church and get some, but we ended up going to lunch at some friends' house, so I didn't get any. They also have cherries now.

Tell everyone "hi" for us. We miss everyone and will welcome anyone and their dog (tell Prissy that). It's late so I better go to bed.

29 May 1983
Dear Rex & Velma,
      We think of you often and hope you are doing well.
      We are sending a map of the area so you can see where we live and know where things are that we talk about. The route we take to the hospital is shown in red. Our house & the hospital are purple.
      We are also sending you a page from the hospital newsletter that we thought you would enjoy.
      I got a letter from Sam SULLINS. We need to encourage more SULLINS descendants to join the Family Association. Please "push" it at the reunion in August.
P.S. Come see us!

30 May 1983
We went to see La Solfatara today. This is a volcano that sits just over the mountain from the hospital. The crust of the earth is 1 to 3 meters thick in most areas. The guide threw a rock on the ground and we could hear how hollow it was. There was also bubbling mud and sand and a lot of steam coming out of various holes. The Europeans come here to "bathe" in the hot steam. They claim it is a "cure all." This volcano acts as a safety valve for Mt. Vesuvius. They are connected by underground passages. As long as this area is bubbling & letting off steam, Mt. Vesuvius is quiet and vice versa. I bought a vase made from the lava there. I'm enclosing the entrance ticket.



P.S. Tell Alisa if I can find time to write, she can, too. A postcard will do if that's all she can manage. Diane owes me one, too. Tell them to turn their TV's off & get out the pen & paper.

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