Tues. Morning
24 July '84

Dear Diane,

I got a nice letter from you yesterday. That was the best news I've gotten in a letter in a long time! We'll be glad to have you here all next summer if you want. However, August is vacation month in Italy and several other European countries. Many things close down for one, two or the full four weeks. We don't plan much of anything in August. Italians are all on the road - mostly to beaches and very little is open. Two weeks here would just barely be enough time to see all the things to see here. (Actually 3 years is not enough time.) Perhaps you could come stay through the month of July. That would give us enough time to see many things, rest a couple of days here and there (which you will need) and take some weekend excursions.

If you fly into London, 2 or 3 days there would be nice. If you want to see the European countryside, a Eurorail pass would be ideal. Catch the train in London and go to Paris for a few days, then over through Germany & down through Switzerland. The train ride is beautiful, I've heard.

After you get to our house, your cost will be minimal since hotel & transportation are the biggest expenses. Here we'll spend only on occasional meals out and souvenirs and lodging on any overnight trips we plan & entrance fees. Also, you can take any Recreational Services tours offered at the Naval base since you are my guest. They usually go once a month to Rome (weekend), and a 3-day tour to Florence & Pisa occasionally is one I'd highly recommend. They go somewhere every weekend for the day or whole weekend. Transportation by bus & lodging is at reduced prices and tours are arranged and you'd be in the company of other English-speaking people. I should be able to find out by next Spring what tours they would be offering for next summer. Michael would be able to take off a few days here & there only. His parents will be here in March. He'll want to take off then. In April or May, we want to go to Germany & Holland & France, so we'll be taking off 2 or 3 weeks then.

The 1st thing you need to do SOON is find a good travel agent you trust and feel good about. They may be able to find you a good tour starting in London and coming to Rome. Let them take care of everything if you want. It sure is nice to have reservations already made - especially if you don't speak the language well. There'll be many tours to see Europe in June & I would hesitate to go anywhere that month without reservations. Anyway, we have beds reserved for you here for as long as you want. Perhaps Michael could take off a few days & we could take a long weekend to Venice or somewhere.

Anyway, I'll discuss all of this at length with you in October. Can you pick the kids & me up at the Little Rock airport around 7:30 PM on Saturday the 6th of October? Michael has to go to a conference in Kansas City, Oct 8-12. Either the Navy will pay for his trip or we'll take it off our income tax as continuing education. We'll fly from Rome to London to NY to St. Louis together on TWA. Then he'll go to KC & I'll fly to LR. I'll take my trip off our income tax by going to look at the land we bought in Searcy. Our roundtrip tickets are going to be a little over $900.00 each. The kids will be roughly half that each. On Sunday, 7 October, could you take me to Searcy? Hopefully, Mom & Dad will be settled in their house by then! We'll stay in Searcy until Saturday, 13 October, when, hopefully, Mom & Dad will take us to Harrison to meet Michael at his parents' house. Then, hopefully, his parents will bring us back to your house the next Friday night, 19 Oct., to catch the plane for Rome on Saturday, the 20th of October. Is that OK? Will that throw a kink into any of your plans? We could make other arrangements if necessary.

I would like to have a birthday party for Steven on that Sunday night, 7 Oct., in Searcy at McDonald's with Laura & the Davidson kids if possible and any other cousins that could make it. How much are they charging these days, do you know? Would I have to do anything besides make the reservation and pay the fee beforehand? My kids would be ecstatic to have a party at McDonald's. What do you think of the possibility of that?

Anyway, more about all that later after we've made our plane reservations. Yes, I just wrote Mother about it.

Michael just came home with a Commodore 64. All he could get was the keyboard. The Exchange is suppose to get the rest of it in August ... which is a joke ... nothing comes in August 'cause Italians don't work in August. Angelique & Steven are eager to play on the computer. Michael says they can't tear it up. I have doubts about that. I think I've seen the last of my husband. Who needs a hot golf course! What is your computer?

The kids are not speaking Italian well. They need daily exposure to learn it well and they just don't get that. They may get it weekly ... just enough to feel frustrated that they don't know it. Well, they know many words, but neither one of them can compose sentences. Steven is friendlier with Italians than Angelique. She has developed a fear or almost distrust of Italians. She hears all the jokes the Americans make about them, I guess. She will be friendly with them only after she sees us being friendly with one for a few minutes. She must pick up our anxiety stemming from the communication problems and translates that into fear. I think she may be coming out of that now though, I hope. She sees Steven charming them some and that helps her, I think.

What day was Justin born? I failed to mark it on my calendar. Is Cheryl trying to breastfeed this one? I need to go find him some cute little something.

Send your excess garden produce on over. Ha Angelique would like for us to have a garden but there is really no place to put one. Send me some of your zucchini recipes - especially the apple pie one. Zucchini are bountiful here.

Your remark about the Italian booth at the World's Fair was interesting. Did they have inlaid wood large furniture? It is expensive here, but I'm sure it was much more expensive there. Our dining set was like $3,650.00 - Table, 6 chairs, hutch/cabinet. You can pick up as much as you want when you come in June.

Which space shuttle was at the fair? Did you see the church's exhibit there? I wonder how similar all the exhibits were to the fair in Knoxville. Did Hungary have a huge model of the Rubic's cube? Did Federal Express have a laser show?

The kids have not mentioned a p-e-t in a long time. I guess all the trips & swing set & birthday parties coming up have distracted them.

Jeannie - Feb 1984

The pix I am sending was made in February. I just now got around to framing one (8"X10") and sending it to Mom & Dad. I should have sent a smaller one with a smaller frame. Anyway, I've cut my hair to about armpit length since then. It's easier to put up for summer at this length.

See you soon.

Get your passports NOW!



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