Thursday, 17 Jan 1985

Dear Mom and Dad,

Hi. We got a letter from you on Tuesday. The kids certainly enjoy the balloons you send. It took me all afternoon to read all the newspaper articles you sent. I did not know Dixie was writing the Rock Springs news. It was nice to get letters from both of you.

The kids are at school and Jeannie has gone to a brunch. Since I have the house all to myself, I should be able to get this written quickly.

The dates you are wanting to come are fine. It should be quite pleasant then and not hot. I will not request leave just yet until I am sure about when you will be here. We are wondering why you are wanting to go to Rome and Florence again. If you like, we might try to drive to Rome on the Saturday you are here. We could go to the catacombs. We will also try to go to Paestum while you are here. If there is anything you would like to see again around Naples on this trip, just let us know. You will be here in time for Steven's birthday. Did you check into the flight to Frankfurt from here?

Can you find the book "FRONTIER," by Louis L'Amour? I would certainly like a copy. Also, I understand that a book called "Dinosaurs: Those Terrible Lizards," by Duane Gish (or something like that), is excellent for ages 4 and up. If you don't mind, would you try to find it? It would be good for Angelique and Steven to be exposed to a Biblical view of dinosaurs. If you can't find it, perhaps the Christian bookstore could order it. I hope it is not out of print. I will be glad to pay for both books.

We saw in the newspaper about south Texas getting LOTS of snow. Did you get any of that? I have finally reached the age where I understand why Daddy would say he hoped it wouldn't snow, though Becky and I were hoping it would. I will tell you about our snow in a little bit.

It is too bad you won a hog so soon after you butchered one. You shouldn't enter contests that you are not sure you want to win.

I found out 2 days ago that I won't have to go to LaMaddalena again, at least through April. They finally got smart and decided they needed the doctors here more than there. However, they are still sending the P.A.'s, but now for 2 weeks at a time instead of 10 days. I feel sorry for them, especially since we are good friends with the family of the P.A. at Pinetamare. Fortunately, Washington has finally given orders to the doctor at Pinetamare (from LaMaddalena), so he will be going to Pensacola in a few weeks. He will be happy to get back to his family. It is beyond me to figure out why this guy wants to stay in the Navy the way they have treated him. (I would get out tomorrow if I could.)

That does not end the politics here. The E.R. doctor at the hospital is having to go to Scotland for 2 months (Feb. & Mar.) to cover a clinic over there. I don't know what makes them think we have too many doctors here. Jeannie was almost disappointed that I wasn't sent. She thought it would be neat to live in Scotland, but I told her she would go crazy staying in a hotel for so long. It would have been a better opportunity to go at a warmer time of year. I am glad I am not going, though it would have been nice to get away from this mess here and nice to live in a place where the natives speak English again.

So, the hospital needs an E.R. doctor during this time. They are pulling one of our doctors from Pinetamare to work at the hospital for 2 months and sending us one of the P.A.'s from the hospital. That will leave us with only 3 doctors at Pinetamare and one of us always has to be there. That means two doctors have to be there every day, so only one could be gone on leave at a time. Half the time we will only have 1 P.A. because of LaMaddalena.

No dependants or retirees are seen at the hospital any more, unless referred to a specialist there by a practioner from Pinetamare. We are seeing far more patients than we can handle smoothly. I sometimes refer patients to the hospital just so I don't have to see so many. If I were in private practice and seeing so many people, I would be rolling in dough. The idiocy of the military is that I get paid the same as the doctors at the hospital who are seeing very few patients. I always liked to get paid in proportion to how much work I did.

If this is confusing to you, you should be here. Something new comes up every day. Everyone who is career Navy assures me that most of the Navy is not like here. They say when I get to Memphis and see how the Navy really works that I might want to stay in. Surely, I will remember this place and realize that I could get another duty station like this one. Heaven forbid! Our only hope is that Russia's military has even worse problems, but it is hard to imagine.

My class on Evolution is going well. Jeannie says I am having a difficult time getting down to everyone else's level. I spend most of the time lecturing. I wanted it to be more of a discussion class. So far there has not been an ad in the paper, but they still are saying there will be.

We let the kids help decorate the tree because it isn't all that important to us how silly the tree looks. We did do a little re-decorating after the kids finished. Only a few things got broken, but we have too many ornaments any way. I realize that the videotape was boring with so much of the kids decorating the tree, but the tape was made to suit us. We will enjoy watching it in a few years. We make the videotapes primarily to have for ourselves. We just send you and Diane a copy, hoping you will enjoy some of it without dying of boredom before it is over. It helps us feel like we are not so far away from you. I am glad we have the technology to permit you to watch the kids grow even though you are so far away and can't visit often.

The last letter we got from Searcy indicated that Jeannie's folks will not get to come. We were afraid that would happen if they built that house. Velma is questioning whether it was worth it to get a new house in place of coming to Europe. However, I don't think Rex wants to leave the U.S., any way.

The college in Florence is not much of a "college." It would be fun to go there, though. It must be nice that David Stills can go. I would not have been able to afford it when I was at Harding. I do hope he will come see us. Tell him to write ahead of time. Perhaps, if I have enough notice that he is coming, we could show them around a little. We would be glad to keep three students in our house for a weekend or so. The church here would love to have someone visiting from Harding. We could find housing for several others if they are interested.

I liked your statement, "Now get off that computer and write me." So here I sit in front of it. I hope you don't mind getting typed letters instead of handwritten ones. I can write more in a shorter time by using my computer. I don't have to think so hard about whether I am leaving something out. If I leave something out, I just go back to where it goes and put it in. It is a real time saver. I have succeeded in getting 3 other people addicted to computers around here. They love it, but I am not sure about their wives. John Sigle took a day off last week just to play with his computer. I am not sure if this technology is a blessing or a curse.

Now to tell you about our snow. We had been considering taking a weekend trip to the mountains so our kids would get to play in the snow, since neither of them could remember snow. However, that will no longer be necessary.

Since the first of January it has been much colder than usual here. Jeannie was claiming that she would not dislike the cold so much if would snow. The other day it was 48 degrees in our bedroom. We have been running the heater 12 hours a day, law or no law. We still have had to wear long underwear and sweaters indoors. I even got some heavy woolen socks. The temperature outside has been about 10 degrees colder than usual. While it only got to 30 about twice last winter, it has been down in the 20's several mornings. It wouldn't be so bad if this house were insulated.

Since winters are so wet here any way, you can imagine what happened. It rained much on the weekend before last. We heard rumors that there was snow in Rome. On Monday (7 Jan), I found playing in the snow - 7 Jan 1985 out at work that there was snow as close as Castlevolturno, which is only 5 miles north of Pinetamare. I got off at 2 p.m. that day and drove Jeannie and the kids north to find some for the kids to play in. We were only as far north as Pinetamare when it started snowing. (It had been raining all day.) The farther we drove the harder it snowed. We couldn't believe it! We found a place in Castlevolturno beside the road that had about 2 inches. We all got out and played in it for about 20 minutes. Jeannie helped the kids build a snowman. We couldn't believe we were in the middle of a snow storm so close to our house.

snow on our front yard - 8 Jan 1985 When he got home it was snowing at our house. We finally ended up with a little less than an inch. It stayed around for a few days. It snowed a little bit over the few days. Tuesday (8 Jan) and Thursday mornings, the roads were very slick. I was glad I was working p.m.'s those days. It melted off most of the road by the time I had to go to work. We are glad the snow is gone. It has been raining for the past few days and been in the upper 30's to 40's. It looks like the sun may shine today. It is probably in the 50's outside now. We hope the cold weather doesn't come back. We have heard anything from 12 to 40 years since it last snowed in Naples. It does not have to snow here any more while we are here!

Starting the weekend before the snow, Parco Mazzola (where Paddington school is) was without electricity. They were without it for nearly a week, all during the really cold and snowy days. We are very glad we did not find a house there when we first arrived. We were really wanting to live there. Most of the people moved into hotels after a couple of days. I didn't like to see any of them as patients that week; they all were really crabby. I can't blame them.

Paddington thought they would try to beat the system and tapped into the line somewhere so they could have power. I drove the kids to school on those two slick days. On Tuesday, however, we brought the kids back home. They had had a fire there the night before that destroyed the contents of two rooms. Fortunately, it didn't damage any of the classrooms that our kids used. They were able to return to school the next day. The fire had started because of the electrical trick they did.

Isn't this an exciting place to live? Actually, I have had about enough. But I guess we will continue to put up with it, like everybody else does.

Dear Grandma and Grandpa,

I love you. Please come see us. Thank you for the presents.



Well, Angelique is home and wanted to write something. She thought she was going to get to see it come out on the printer as soon as she wrote it.

I can think of little else to write about. I hope you write sooner next time. Jeannie said you were probably mad at me for writing you on my computer. I will try to get this in the mail this afternoon.

Jeannie was supposed to go on an overnight shopping trip to Rome last Friday. She was the coordinator of the trip for the hospital officers' wives' club. She had been working on it for several weeks. Almost at the last minute they decided not to go because of the weather. They had heard that a lot of the hotels in Rome were without heat and water because of the snow storm.

She is still planning to go on a shopping trip to northern Italy next month. Her roommate will be Libby Marion, the wife of the P.A. at Pinetamare. She is looking forward to having a good roommate and one that she knows. Her roommate in Germany last month was weird. This will probably be her last overnight shopping trip. She will be gone from Monday through Saturday. They will be going to Venice.

The kids are still enjoying "Ducks Ahoy!" It is their favorite computer game. I am glad that they like it so much. I thought they would, but you can't be sure just from reading about it. I am sure they will show you how to play it while you are here and probably even let you play it yourself.

I wrote a program for Jeremy Sigle the other day. It will do multiplication problems. I guess I am getting some worthwhile use out of this thing if I can make it do what I want. I also modified another program that will do multiplication.

Well, this is long enough. I need to get it printed before the kids get down for their naps so Angelique can sign her letter.

You all take care. We are already beginning to plan what to do with you when you get here.


Michael, Jeannie,
Angelique, and Steven

table of contents | previous letter | next letter