28 Oct 1983
Dear Mom & Dad,
Sorry I've been slow about writing. Things have been wild here lately. I assume you've gotten my letter about the earthquake. When you all made the tape at Laura's house you obviously had not gotten it yet.
In case you didn't get it, I'll tell you again. The kids and I didn't even feel it here at the house. A few people in our area did feel it slightly. Michael was at the hospital and got shook pretty good. There were no personal injuries and only minor structural damage done to the hospital, i.e., glass broken, fallen plaster. We're fine.
Pozzuoli is the area having all the tremors. It is located between us and the hospital. Actually it's quite close to the hospital. We just drive rather quickly through that area on our way to the base.
I suppose you heard about the bombing in Beirut. They alerted all the medical personnel early Sunday that casualties would be brought in to the hospital here that afternoon. As it turned out, they only sent 12 wounded here. The rest were shipped on to Germany where there are bigger Army hospitals that are capable of handling the more serious cases. As it was, Michael got in on all the action here. He even got to ride from the airport to the hospital with a wounded Marine in a helicopter. He thought that was neat. Someone told us Michael was on national TV in the States treating these guys. Did you see him? He didn't know he was being filmed. Everyone here is still talking about it. It affects so many here since there are Marines stationed here, too. What are they saying about it in Arkansas? I suppose it got a lot of news coverage.
I took Angelique to the Halloween Carnival tonight at the elementary school. She went dressed as a clown. She loved having her face painted up. She particularly enjoyed the cake walk although she never won even with 3 tries.
Steven stayed home with his dad. He really is not fond of make-up or scarey faces right now. He did enjoy the popcorn we brought home for him.
We'll Trick or Treat on Monday night at a few friends' houses. It will be interesting to see how Steven will do on that. Angelique thinks she knows all about it. She'll also have a party at school Monday. I'm suppose to take cupcakes for 25 kids. Sounds fun, huh? She ought to be Halloweened-out by then.
I've spent two nights wrapping and packing Christmas presents to ship back to the States. I hope to get them in the mail Monday or Tuesday. They should get there hopefully before Christmas, but not before Thanksgiving. Should they get there before Thanksgiving, please don't tell everyone we sent them gifts. I don't want everyone to feel like they have to send us gifts. They are just little things that you can't find in the States, so don't get too excited.
I also packed a few presents for Dan and Alisa in your box. I hope you don't mind delivering them. It saves on postage and makes packing easier to do it that way. There are 4 presents for them that should be easy to spot to take out because they are marked with the Xmas curling ribbon tied around them. None of the others have ribbons on them except one that I didn't wrap but was wrapped at the shop where I got it. It belongs to you. Does that make sense? The brown package with the gold ribbon does not go to Dan and Alisa, in other words.
Anyway, I hope it all gets there in one piece. Have the kids open their presents carefully. These are not tough plastic toys like you get in the States. Allan should be particularly careful opening his. The others will probably be okay. I'll try to remember to send you a sealed letter later explaining the gifts to be opened and read after everyone has opened theirs.
Tomorrow Michael & I are going with Professor D'Ambrosio to the National Museum of Naples. It's supposedly the greatest archeological museum in Europe. That's where all the treasures and stuff are that they found in Pompei and other ancient cities. There will be a small group of us. Michael is really getting into all this European history stuff. We should be good tour guides by the time you all get here.
How is Brenda? Did they get the package I sent them yet?
Yes, Michael is over his pneumonia. We all seem to be fine right now. It's been cold here this last week. The cold just comes right through these walls. Michael finally purchased some kerosene today, so at least our toes aren't cold tonight. The days are nice and warm (60's), but it gets into the 40's at night and it seems almost that cold in the house without any heat. We'll be able to turn our radiators on in December (Italian law). Until then, we'll supplement with a few kerosene heaters.
Michael's cousin from Harrison, who is in the Navy stationed on a destroyer, ate supper with us last week. He was excited about getting a home-cooked meal. I think his ship has already left Naples. He's been all over the Mediterranean, so he had quite a few tales to tell.
We got two new sets of neighbors yesterday. They finally got these houses done. Both of these people are Americans who lived in Pozzuoli, but had to move out of their houses due to earthquake damage. The Italian government is trying to move everyone out of Pozzuoli. The guy who moved in beside us is the psychologist at the school here and is not married. His name is Jim Corey. Dr. Davis and his family moved in behind us. He is the anesthesiologist here. He and his wife Pat have two children here in Naples with them, aged 20 and 21. They have another son who is married back in the States. Pat and kids (Kathy & David, I believe are their names) are all going to college while here. There are several branches of American colleges here. We had Dr. Davis & Jim Corey over for chili last night. Pat & kids had classes.
Are you talking to travel agents? They are very helpful. TWA has a nonstop flight from St. Louis to Rome. You probably could fly nonstop from Atlanta to Rome. If you don't like what one travel agent has to offer, try another one. Also check back periodically with them. Sometimes new deals become available. Shopping for an airplane trip is a lot like shopping for a car. You have to look around for a good deal -- and then you are never sure if you got the best deal. Also, some airlines still give discounts to families going to visit military family. Ask about that. Have you been told that booking your reservations a month or so in advance will be cheaper? That usually saves money.
If you want to see a lot of Europe, then come with a tour group from Harding. If you don't care about seeing Europe, then don't waste your time and money doing that. We'd like to have you for as many weeks as you can swing. One week is not hardly long enough to get over jet lag and start enjoying being here. A lot of families of military personnel come and spend a month or two. It's not the being here that is expensive -- the coming & going.
Michael's parents are going to spend 2 weeks touring Europe and only one week with us. I think that's crazy.
Oh, by the way -- we can pick you up at the Rome airport if you'd like. That would probably be much cheaper. The weather is very nice here in May, but you might need a sweater at night.
We enjoyed the videotape y'all did at Diane's. I hope they know how much we appreciate all their time and work. We're sending them a few extra gifts to their house. We're looking forward to seeing Peter Pan and Mrs. Darling. That tape should be here soon.
The museum trip was fun & very interesting. Would you all enjoy seeing all those artifacts? Besides all the statues there were wall paintings, mosaics, silver, vases, food, scrapes of clothing, combs, a few pieces of clothing and buttons, etc., that are the only relics of their kind from the time of Christ. These were the things that were buried at Pompei in 79 A.D.
After the tour we went downtown for lunch with another couple. It was 3:30 p.m. before we got back to our car that we had parked at AFSOUTH - the NATO base. We had taken the train to the museum. After we got back to the base, Michael & I both bought some warm house shoes that we had to buy quickly before they ran out of them.
We finally picked the kids up about 4:30 PM. We were quite tired when we got back home. Steven has finally gotten to the stage where he doesn't cry when we leave him with babysitters. That's nice. But, for some unknown reason, Angelique cried yesterday when the girls (babysitters) tried to put her down for her nap. She wanted her mama! I can't figure that out.
I ended up baking about 56 cupcakes this afternoon. My neighbor, Ann, helped me decorate them orange & black. I'll send half of them to school with Angelique tomorrow. I took the other half to a church function tonight.
Are you getting your passports? Should I thaw the chicken out yet?
I'd better get to bed. It seems like the day after I mail you a letter I always think of something I should have written.
Oh, yeah. Someone told me the Exchange usually gets a shipment of little girls' Christmas dresses in December, so don't worry if you haven't found anything. They may not be the brands I like, but I guess they will suffice. There may be 15 other little girls wearing the same dress, though.
Can you send another envelope of White County dirt? My bottle is only about half full. Just include it in whatever you ship over here next.
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