Monday, 26 Sep 1983

Dear Mom & Dad,

I got 2 letters from you today (8 & 15 Sep). Also, Steven's present got here today. We will save it for his birthday next week.

I didn't write a letter last week, mainly because there wasn't anything new to tell you about. I have been sick for about a week with bronchitis. I was in bed nearly all weekend. Yesterday morning Angelique had a fever so we stayed home from church and she watched cartoons while I read a book.

Jeannie & Steven were on their way to church. Jeannie had backed out of the garage when Ann (our neighbor) reminded her that we forgot to move our clocks back an hour. Europe went off daylight savings time Saturday night.) So Jeannie came back in and Steven watched cartoons for an hour. We were disgusted that we forgot because we could have slept an hour longer.

I didn't leave the house all weekend except between 3:30 and 5:00 AM Friday night I went to deliver a baby. I was glad it went fast. I didn't get up until 10 AM Saturday, then took a nap in the afternoon when the kids did. I am still not completely well, but a lot better. I read two books this weekend. One was about the Shroud of Turin and one was about Mt. Vesuvius.

I was the only Family Physician here Wed., Thurs., & Friday. Last week I was on call Saturday (stayed in hospital 24 hrs.), Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, & Friday. It's no wonder I was so sick & didn't think I could get well. I was going to bed at 9:00 every night, too. Tonight I am on call again. Oh, last Tuesday & Thursday afternoons I came home and slept.

Lago Patria - 18 Sep 1983

So you see there isn't much to tell.

Last Sunday (a week ago) was the most beautiful day we have ever seen here. It had been windy and raining on Saturday. Sunday was sunny and clear. We could see mountains in the great distance both north & east of here. The water, both the sea & Lago Patria, was a beautiful blue.

We had tapes at our house that Sunday night. Angelique spent the afternoon at John & Faye's. It is hard to believe she is big enough to do that. Apparently Jeannie was allergic to something somebody brought to eat that night because just before she went to bed she noticed she was breaking out in hives. I gave her some medicine and she was fine by the next morning.

This afternoon (Monday) at the hospital there was a pretty strong earthquake that lasted about 10 seconds. I was with a patient and only stopped talking long enough for the building to quit shaking & then just went right on. Boy, this is a weird place we live in. That was the first tremor I had felt in a week.

Since the time change, it gets dark here about 6:30 p.m. The weather has been great practically all this month. It doesn't get too hot during the day & gets a little chilly at night. We leave the house nearly completely closed up & it stays comfortable.

I have 3 letters of yours that I haven't answered yet.

You need some horse hair to fix your pump. That's what the Italians would use. They don't use washers over here for plumbing. They use horse hair. That's what I was told to use to fix my gas grill, but I used Teflon tape instead.

I am impressed that you have such a big phone book.

When I came back from Africa [in 1980] I threw my clothes away in Athens & Rome. It was better than carrying them dirty.

I still haven't heard from Becky. It might help if I wrote her a letter. I know I should write Grandma, too. I spend so much time writing letters to you that I don't feel like writing anyone else - even genealogy letters. Whatever I tell you, I know that Becky, Grandma, & other relatives will find out the important points.

Genealogy seems so much less important to me here. I think part of the reason is that I am not around our relatives. (I have a patient here whose maiden name is GASS. She looks just like all the GASSes I have ever seen. She could easily pass for a daughter of Uncle John. She is in her 20's. I checked out her family tree & she probably isn't related. She is from Utah.) Another reason is that in the U.S. it is impressive to people (actually they're impressed here, too) that I can trace my family tree to back the 1300's. But here, I can see a city where people lived at the time of Christ (i.e., Pompeii) and the remains of a city where people lived before 700 B.C. (i.e., Cuma). My family tree to the 1300's seems quite unimpressive in comparison. I have had much more enjoyment here studying the cultures of Cuma & Pompeii.

Knowing the history of things over here is what makes seeing historical things worthwhile. It was the rich and powerful (kings & queens) who shaped the course of history for hundreds of years in Europe. All the castles, cathedrals, palaces, and other impressive buildings in Europe are the result of the money invested by royal families. Even Pompeii was dug up because of a king. (Everything in Europe has some history behind it. You will enjoy seeing things here more if you at least read a little about the history behind what you see.) Even all the famous paintings exist because the rich hired the best artists to paint for them.

It will not help to stay in New York for one day. Don't waste a day that you could be in Europe. You will be exhausted when you get here regardless of how rested you are before you leave. When you get here (London), don't go to sleep till dark; otherwise, it will take longer to get over jet lag. Remember you are spending a lot of money and you can rest after you get back to the States.

Toyland opened here (with Santa Claus & everything) on 15 September. Jeannie spent $70 on Angelique and $80 on Steven (some was for his birthday). Angelique is getting a Barbie doll with clothes & carry case, a viewmaster, an umbrella, a Smurf House, an "Art Go Round" (with crayons, marker, & paints), a Spelling & Counting Wheel, and a few other small things. Steven is getting a pedal car, a Tonka Fire Truck, a Cookie Monster Shape Muncher, a toy bus, & a few other little things. For his birthday, he is getting a Talking Big Bird & a big Tonka truck & some other little things.

Jeannie says Angelique needs a game, maybe Chutes & Ladders or something like that. Steven would enjoy something like Bristle Buddies (a type of bristle blocks). These are only suggestions. Jeannie told her mother some other suggestions. Angelique wears a size 4 and Steven wears a size 3. Please don't spend much on us for Christmas. Save your money and bring us your faces in March.

I get the SAR newsletter. I wrote them & told them that I am not in the Marines. They saw MC after my name and thought it meant Marine Corps. I told them it means Medical Corps. You would think the SAR would know what USNR stands for. Most people in Arkansas can't figure out what the purpose of the Navy is anyway.

Angelique started to school two days after we got back from Florence. She goes on Monday, Wednesday, & Friday from 8:30 AM till noon. There is a babysitting service in the same building. Occasionally, Jeannie leaves both kids there. Angelique eats lunch there only if she goes to the babysitting part after class. Steven always wants Angelique to stay with him. Jeannie is going to start taking a class on watercolors on Mondays from 10 to 12. Ann is going to keep Steven.

Ann acts just like a big sister to Jeannie. The Cummings just found out they got an extension & will be here until November 1985. That will be nice for all of us. We seem to get along well. Their kids (boys, 9 & 10) are well behaved & play well with our kids.

Steven's nose did not swell up hardly any when he was stung by a bee. He certainly knows what one is now. About twice a week during August a bee would come into the dining room while we were eating supper. Both kids would sit real still & watch it till I killed it.

The kids are enjoying the balloons & pencils you sent.

I hope David Campbell knows he is still welcome to visit us. I'm sure his ship will eventually come to Naples.

In six years I have to take a test to re-certify for the Boards. It is graded on a different curve and part of it is different from the first time. It seems it will take forever to get my raise ($2,000 per year for passing). There is too much red tape. I would have been upset with you opening my mail if I hadn't passed. I knew I had passed before I opened it because the envelope was so big. I saw your note first & didn't need to read the letter then. I was pleasantly surprised to see your note. Tell everyone you want. (I asked that it be released to the Harrison Daily Times.)

I enjoyed the articles & the Guard photo that you sent.

In Florence we saw a lot of people who would draw your portrait. They made lots of money at it, too.

We didn't have time to look around Rome on our way to Florence. I have seen the things I want to see in Rome (in 1980). I can take Jeannie up there some Saturday or 2 or 3 Saturdays.

The difference in northern & southern Italy is not much different from the North & South in the U.S. Everything you said about differences in North & South Italy applies to the States as well. The farther south you go in the U.S., the more relaxed everyone is. People up north think people in the south (whether U.S. or Italy) are lazy.

Keep preparing Daddy for all these things that are different in Europe. Don't get upset with the people here, no matter how rude they might seem. Try to look for things that are better here. You won't find many things better, but if you keep noticing all the things that are worse while you are here, you will go home feeling like you wasted a lot of money.

When we went to the Duomo in Florence, Jeannie was still wearing a dress from church that Sunday morning. They weren't letting anyone in.

I don't know where they would let you in because you had on pants.

There is nothing worth seeing in Pisa except the tower & the cathedral right next to it. If you go to Florence & want to see Pisa, there are tours from Florence that will take you to Pisa in the morning & bring you back in the afternoon. They leave from the major hotels.

We have a lot better luck with bargaining in Naples than we did in Florence. We tried talking them down on everything we bought, but most of the vendors stood firm on their price. They must be used to a lot of Americans & know they will pay anything. We have to admit, the prices were usually good anyway. You don't have to have a poker face to bargain. Just laugh at the price they tell you and just act half interested. No matter how badly you want it, if you don't like the price, keep shopping elsewhere. You may well find it cheaper at the next shop or you can always go back to where you found it before. Still act only half interested - let them come down on the price to help you make up your mind. By the way, most of the stores have fixed prices & would laugh if you tired to bargain with them. You bargained in Mexico. It's the same here.

We are barely familiar with Care Bear.

I couldn't believe it cost so much to call collect from Italy.

We have honey but didn't think of that when we ran out of sugar. How much honey equals one cup of sugar?

The floor does slant a little toward the shower in the downstairs bathroom.

I haven't built any cabinets in the house. The cabinets that we had specially made will come out of the house when we leave unless the landlord or the next family moving in wants to buy them.

If we run the gas tubing out the window of the kitchen, we won't be able to close the window when it gets cold. The bombola is not really in the way in the kitchen.

The tiny chips in the table top can be repaired easily. (But not by me.) It can be sanded & a coat of polyurethane put on & it will look good as new.

The fence around the yard is about 7 feet high. The front yard is about the size of your garage & utility room put together.

You cannot buy a VCR here that will work in the States.

I need to go to bed. You all take care & save lots of money.


Michael, Jeannie,
Angelique, & Steven

P.S. I thought you might enjoy the story from the Soap Opera magazine.

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