28 Aug 1983

Dear Mom & Dad,

I hope you had a nice birthday last week. I hope you both had a good time in Springfield.

Last Monday, I had the duty (MOOD) and stayed all night at the hospital. About 6:30 pm, the Secretary of the Navy's wife (Barbra Lehman) came to the emergency room. You would have thought it was Mrs. Reagan as tight as security was. Mrs. Lehman is only 34 and was very nice. I just treated her like everybody else. She had been at Capri all weekend and had a very minor medical problem that needed attention. We knew she was coming since 10 AM that day. Otherwise, we didn't even know the Secretary of the Navy was in Naples.

At 5:30 AM, Tuesday, I delivered a baby. Another baby was born at 5:35 AM. Since it was impossible to be 2 places at the same time, the second baby obviously wasn't delivered by me. That was a pretty exciting night. We have only one delivery room. The obstetrician came in to take care of the second patient.

Tuesday afternoon at 2 PM, I picked Angelique up at Carney Park from Camp Volcano. She's really having a good time there, 4 hours, twice a week. Except this week, she will go 3 times and that will be the end of "camp." She gets to play a lot at the playground, do crafts, and go swimming.

Wednesday night, I typed some letters while the kids watched "The Wizard of Oz" on the VCR. While the storm was coming up on the movie, there was also one brewing outside. It finally got to lightning and thundering so bad that I unplugged the TV. It didn't take long for the storm to pass so we plugged everything back up. I was in the middle of typing again and the electricity went off. All this was a little more than Angelique could stand. Having a storm outside after seeing the tornado on TV had Angelique quite scared and with the lights out she was terrified. When the lights came back on, she insisted on holding the flashlight while she watched the rest of the movie. The lights did go off a couple more times. Each time, the electricity stayed off several minutes and came back on. We were afraid Angelique might have nightmares that night, but she didn't.

We are all sitting here watching the "Wizard of Oz" again tonight. Angelique hides her face when she doesn't want to see a part. Or she will say, "I think I want to take a little short nap now."

Since we got the VCR, we watch TV very little and practically never watch Italian TV now. It is nice to control when you are going to watch something without wasting a lot of time watching a lot of stuff on TV that you don't really want to see, waiting to see something that you do want to watch. We are still watching tapes that we have borrowed. There are so many people with VCR's around here that we would never have to buy a tape.

Friday, we got a letter from Diane telling us she was sending 3 videotapes, one for us, one for the kids, and one that Bill made at the family reunion. They mailed the one made at the family reunion, not knowing we had our VCR yet. Then, the same day, they got our letter telling them we got a VCR. They are sending us a tape of Sesame Street (6 episodes) so we can return the tape that we have borrowed. It will be nice to own some tapes and not be dependent on everyone else with a VCR. Now maybe we can loan a tape when we borrow one. (Of course, we could have already loaned out our "Star Trek II" tape.)

Jeannie just swatted at a mosquito & Steven said, "KEY-toe bite." He talks all the time and we can understand practically everything he says. When asked a question, he will answer, "yes," "no," or "I don't know." If asked a question that starts with why, he often says, "'Cause." Sometimes he will say, "Yes, sir, ma'am." He was stung on the nose by a bee at the park about 1 1/2 weeks ago. When he was telling me about it after I got home, he said it was a "bee bite." Did I tell you he could say Angelique's memory verse (Luke 2:52)? He is really cute when he says it because he closes his eyes real tight. Angelique learned it while sitting at a meal. It is written on a card on the refrigerator and Angelique had to close her eyes to keep from reading it. Of course, Steven learned from her example that you have to close your eyes to say the memory verse.

Angelique is learning to read better and better every day it seems. In Fort Smith she always got up and watched TV real quietly in the mornings before everyone else got up. Here (since it isn't always hooked up and there really isn't anything on at 7 AM for her to watch) she will get up and quietly read books till Jeannie and Steven get up. She gets lots of practice that way and probably learns new words every day. She appreciates your letters. She can't quite read them yet, but it helps that you print them. She enjoyed the pictures of the blue bird and the eagles.

Yesterday morning both kids were up and playing loudly by 7 AM. It always seems they get up the earliest on Saturday mornings, the one day that I could sleep late. (I get up at 6:30 on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, & Friday. I get up at 7:00 on Wednesdays and 7:30 on Sundays.)

baptistry in Cuma - 27 Aug 1983

About 9AM yesterday we went to Cuma. Cuma is a city built on a hill 3,000 years ago. No one has lived there in nearly 1,000 years. It only costs about $1.25 for all of us to get in. Cuma is the oldest Greek settlement in Italy. It is only 10 minutes from here. I couldn't believe all the caves they had cut in the rock there. The most famous one is the "Cave of the Sybil" where a prophetess interpreted the oracles of the Greek god Apollo. We stayed about 1 1/2 hours there. We will have to take you there when you come. It is the oldest thing around here. The entrance is a tunnel.

Cave of the Sybil in Cuma - 27 Aug 1983
Grotto of the Cumaean Sybil

Then we went to the beach for a couple of hours. We couldn't swim because they said the water was "dirty" (contaminated, I guess they mean). But the kids had fun playing in the sand. We ate lunch there and came home.

We found the Roman ruins yesterday that are only about 3/4 mile from our house. They are so obvious, we're not sure why we didn't see them sooner. We only drove around them and will have to go back again to walk around and look. We will probably wait till winter since it was so grown up with weeds.

Last night we went out to eat with Vic & Sandy Sharp. He is one of the Internal Medicine doctors here. We had a good time. I'm afraid the kids didn't have a very good time because we left them with the Sharp's kids (ages 1 & 3) at the Sharp's babysitter's house. It was the first time we had left them at a strange place with a strange person.

Today after church we went to Carney Park and had a picnic with the Italian members of the church. I think nearly everyone felt a little out of place. The language barrier and cultural barrier kept us pretty much in our own group. They drink wine just like we drink Coke. That's hard to accept by a boy from Arkansas. (By the way, a drunk Italian is something that you never see or hear about. Drunkenness is not accepted nor tolerated in the Italian culture.)

This afternoon we all 4 slept three hours. We didn't realize we were so tired.

I am a little sunburned from the beach. Jeannie & the kids did fine because they were used to being in the sun or they used more sunscreen than I did.

The weather is still nice here. The highs are in the mid-80's. The grass is still green.

My office is cold. It gets more than its share of the air conditioning. Everyone is jealous.

We have lived in the house 3 months and still haven't seen an electric bill.

Very few of the Italian stores are air conditioned. The nicer ones are, like Euromercato.

The easiest way to get around in the cities of Europe is by taxi, but that is also the most expensive. The cheapest way is by bus. They are everywhere and go anywhere. However, for people from Arkansas (including us) they are very complicated. In London, where you will be understood by everyone, it will be the easiest to get around. What you see in London depends entirely on what kind of things you are interested in seeing. We would see Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the British Museum, & a few other things. You can decide what you want to see by going to the library and by talking to your travel agent. A good travel agent will get you a hotel close to most of the things you want to see & tell you exactly how to get from the airport or train station to the hotel.

Our refrigerator is working fine except that occasionally it sounds like it is crying.

We do not remember how to play Spades. There are 13 tricks and each one counts one point. You bid before you start playing. What else?

Did you get a new camera? What did you get? Have you tried it out? Send us a picture of the two of you so you won't be complete strangers to the kids when you come.

I can't think of anything else to say. We appreciate your letters. Keep them coming.

Keep your eyes open for deer.

Love you both,

Michael, Jeannie,
Angelique, & Steven

table of contents | previous letter | next letter