Wed., 1 Feb 84

Dear Mom & Dad,

We got your letter today from 22 January. It sure took a long time to get here. We got a letter yesterday from Diane that was mailed 27 Jan. She said she got our videotape & really enjoyed it. I hope you got to watch yours.

Angelique & Steven got a whole bunch of books in the mail the other day from you. They really enjoy the Walt Disney books. We have several Walt Disney videotapes and the kids are familiar with all the characters.

The newspaper clipping about the earth warming up sounded crazy to me, especially to be printed in the middle of the coldest winter in years in the States. (We had our house opened up a little while yesterday. It was in the mid 50's.) Diane had a little wreck on Markham in the ice recently. Cost $800 & she had on chains. We picked a good winter to miss.

There are two important parts to being a good doctor: ART and SCIENCE. Some of the Navy doctors do very well on the science part, but are lacking about the art. Patients seem to care more about the art than the science. Some doctors here want everything to be regimented, organized, and without deviation from the rules. (Typical military nonsense.)

Don't sit so long at the sewing machine. It's just like the car. Get up & stretch your legs every once in a while. Be careful about the plane trip, too.

You two better take care of yourselves & stay healthy so you can come see us. AND don't wear yourselves out before you get here.

Jeannie got a card in December saying she would be getting Good Housekeeping. Our magazines come 2 months late sometimes. Last week we got the December 83 and January 84 issues of Better Homes & Gardens on the same day. I still haven't gotten my December issue of my medical journal (& it costs me ~$250 a year for it).

After you get back from Europe you will have inspirations of all kinds of things to paint. Try to see the paintings in Florence.

Tell June to come visit us. She can go to Hawaii any time.

Go to the World's Fair! Get us something that says 1984 World's Fair on it.

The train does not go to Pinetamare or anywhere else near our house. If you come by train to Naples, Jeannie or I will meet you at the Central Train Station. That is the station where you would get off for Naples from Rome. We would then take another train to the NATO base at Bagnoli, where the car would be parked.

However, I still would rather pick you up in Rome as I said in the last letter.

We aren't sure what to do with the baby bed. Steven has a twin size bed (American-made) with a simple frame.

The videotape shows the curtains Jeannie made.

Bring the measurements of your dining table & we will help you find a lace tablecloth.

I have had my video camera almost a month but still don't have a case for it yet. They're "not in stock." (We hear that all the time around here.)

Where do you think I can find someone with a table saw to put grooves in a board for me over here? Will my power saw do that? I haven't even gotten it out of the box since I got it for Christmas, yet.

I don't know how far Jeannie's aunts & uncles live from the airport. Call them and find out. Surely a taxi would still be cheaper than a 3-week parking fee. Call M. L. I know him best.

The second on the Camelot tape that isn't good is just static. It happens frequently on video tapes and we are used to it. The rest of the tape is EXCELLENT. It is a pleasure to watch such a good tape. We have gotten used to watching less than perfect films. Even some of the masters don't seem to be in excellent condition. A lot of our copies are blurry, some worse than others. We have about 60 movies.

Dr. Atkinson-Maynard (Penelope) is senior to me, but at the clinic we pretty much share responsibilities, decision making, and work load. Penelope did her first year of residency in Fort Smith. Her husband, George, has been very friendly and helpful to me. He works for Exxon on board a ship off the East Coast of the States. Every three months he gets off for three months. (What a job!) He comes to Naples while he is off. Penelope is more enjoyable to work with when he is here. She takes off a lot while George is in Naples.

Penelope's baby is due on 1 July. Both her tour and her Navy obligation are completed on 30 June. She is going back to the States and getting out of the Navy. She cannot fly after 15 May since she is pregnant. So she will probably return to the States in mid-May.

Your travel agent is supposed to be able to find out about tours from London for you. Tours like that are usually booked in advance.

If you only go to London, Paris, Florence, (Pisa), and Rome, you won't need a tour guide. Just a guide book and map will get you to what you want to see. Ask at the hotel how to get to what you want to see. Take the bus or subway if it is too far to walk. You will find enough people in the big cities who speak English that it won't be too much of a problem, except at certain restaurants. When you get to my house, all your problems will be solved. We will take care of you.

By the way, don't be afraid to eat the food or drink the water. It doesn't kill the natives. Don't eat shellfish. It is often contaminated with hepatitis. Other fish is safe, but pay attention to the price. Seafood is very expensive here in Naples. Don't order food that you have eaten in the States. (For example, hamburgers. They are not as good here and you can always eat that.) Pizza is the exception. It is different here. It is not eaten with the hands. Almost nothing but bread is eaten with bare hands here in Italy. Watch the way people eat around you. It is interesting. In Italy, the fork is held in the left hand while eating meat and the napkin is not put in the lap. (You can eat any way you want. They all know Americans are weird.)

We have not been to the Amalfi Coast, but will try to take you since you mention it. Daddy will get car sick.

London's 610 square miles is less than 25 X 25 miles and Rome's 410 sq. miles is about 20 X 20 miles. Most of that area is residential or commercial and is not anything that you will want to see.

The most important things to see in Rome are the Vatican, the Roman Forum (ruins), and the Colosseum. Everything else is minor. You can see all that in 2 days. (Dan & I saw it in one day and we walked the whole way. But don't walk. Take a bus.)

If you have to take a taxi anywhere, settle on the price before you get in.

In Florence you would need to see the inside of the Galleria degli Uffizi (one of the greatest art museums in the world), the Palazzo Pitti, and the Galleria dell'Accademia (if you want to see one of Michelangelo's most famous sculptures, the David). See at least the outside of the Duomo (cathedral), Ponte Vecchio (bridge), Palazzo Vecchio (town hall), and some of the other old churches. There are lots of other neat things to see there, too. Oh, on the bridge (Ponte Vecchio) there are lots of goldsmith shops with good prices on gold jewelry. We saw everything we wanted in less than 2 days and that included shopping. Everything is in walking distance of the train station, too, including a decent hotel. If you don't mind staying in less than first class hotels, the "Pensione" (several of them are a couple of blocks from the train station) are cheap. Ask to see the room before you agree to take it. We stayed on Via Nazionale (that is the street name - ask at the train station). We stayed in a hotel, not a pensione.

You can get to Pisa by train or by taking a tour from Florence. (They leave daily & return the same day - ask at the hotel about them.) Only the Leaning Tower is worth seeing, but it is worth the trip.

Remember, in Italy the museums and shops all close between 1 and 2 pm for siesta. This is a good time to eat and then shop at the street side vendors. Museums do not open back up and are closed on Mondays.

The Vatican museums are not open on Sundays and will not be open on 19 March. The Basilica (St. Peter's) is open every day except certain holy days. The museum is open 9 AM to 2 PM. The Roman Forum opens at 9 AM till 1 hour before sunset. (It closes at 1 PM on Sundays & holidays). It is closed on Tuesdays.

Yes, I can cash a check if you make it out to me.

Also, we can mail anything to you in the States that you can't carry or is too expensive to take through customs.

It's 12:30. I have to go to bed. I'll write more tomorrow.

Buona notte.

Thursday, 2 Feb

Hi, again.

I copied maps of Rome & Florence for you today. There are hundreds of streets that are not on the map.

There are a lot of hotels just southwest of the train station in Rome. When you tell me where to pick you up in Rome, please tell me exactly how to get there from something located on this map. I can pick you up between 3 and 4 pm.

You cannot fly out of Naples on 30 March and connect in London for your flight back. You will have to leave on 29 March. There are 5 or 6 different flights that will get you to London that leave anywhere from 9 AM to 3 PM (or there about) on the 29th. I don't know which way is the cheapest & couldn't find out. That's your travel agent's job.

I have an Italian address at the hospital but you do not want to use it. It takes at least 7 days for a letter mailed in Naples to be delivered in Naples. It would probably take a month from London to Naples. You don't need to call us from London. Just call to let me know where to pick you up. I must know which day - Tuesday or Wednesday - you want me to pick you up, at least 3 weeks in advance so I can arrange my schedule for my afternoon off. (It is usually Tuesday, but if I know in advance, I can take off Wednesday afternoon instead.)

Your hotel will either call my number for you & charge it to your bill or help you call by pay phone. Please feel free to call collect.

We will tentatively plan for the following after you get here:

Friday, 23 March - Jeannie & the kids will take you to Sorrento to shop in the morning, then take the Amalfi coast in the afternoon.

Sat., 24 March - We will all go to the National Archeological Museum in downtown Naples in the morning and return to the NATO base after lunch. We will try to get you into a building with shops from several countries on the NATO base. Later, we will go to Euromercato & you will see the Italian version of K-Mart.

Mon., 26 March - Capri

Tues., 27 March - Pompeii in morning & Vesuvius afternoon.

We will also show you several other sights around Naples, including Cuma and the Solfatara volcano. I haven't figured out exactly what days to do this yet.

The weather here is supposed to be pretty nice by the end of March.

We promise to show you things you will never forget as long as you live.

I am excited about you coming.

We haven't done much since the last letter. I preached on Sunday. It was a very rainy day. Vernon's car stalled at the toll booth & wouldn't start again. John & I came along within a couple of minutes. (They're all members of the church.) Well, we helped Vernon get his car out of the road, in the rain. We took part of his family with us plus went by a hotel and picked up someone for church. Anyway, most of the congregation was late & wet. I should have preached on the Good Samaritan.

Sunday night, I picked up Henry & Kathi Gold and their two boys at a hotel and went to the Winfree's for tapes. Jeannie and Steven came in a separate car. Angelique came with John & Faye. She ate lunch & spent the afternoon at their house.

Jeannie & Steven & I went out for lunch that Sunday. It sure is easier with only one child at a restaurant.

There were 910 patients seen at the clinic at Pinetamare last month. We only saw about 700 in December. It is getting to be a pretty busy place.

Tuesday afternoon, Jeannie got her retainer. It really doesn't look bad. She has to wear it 24 hours a day for 6 months, only taking it out to eat. (Oh, only the top half comes out.) After 6 months she only has to wear it at night. She will be glad when it is all over. She was a different person for a week when nothing was on her teeth. She was excited and constantly pleasant. She felt good about herself, too. Right now she's crabby.

One of the things you will feel when you get to Europe is that you have lost your independence. You will suddenly feel dependent, but there won't be anyone to be dependent on. A lot of this feeling will be because you will be without your car. Also, you will have to eat food that is a little different from home. The money will be strange to you and you will never be sure if you are getting a good price for anything because you are using weird money. Most of the signs you see, you won't be able to read. At times you'll feel lost and won't know who to ask where you are.

I'm trying to get you prepared. Have a good time! At times you will get frustrated with things. Try not to get mad at people, no matter how rude they might seem to be. If someone doesn't understand English, they won't understand any better by you talking louder. It will all be an experience worth everything you spend on it.

Have a good time. Hurry and come see us.


Michael, Jeannie,
Angelique, & Steven

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