Monday, 8 April 1985

Dear Mom and Dad,

I have not yet gotten a letter from you since the last time I wrote. I am off today and have a lot to tell so I will write now while I have the chance.

Our weather is beautiful and has been for about a week, with the exception of Saturday. It is getting up to about 70 every day and the sky is sunny.

I worked in the Emergency Room this weekend. This is why I am off today. I got very little sleep Saturday night, but plenty last night. Too many babies to deliver both nights. (I worked from 5 PM to 7:30 AM Saturday and Sunday nights.)

It has been a very hectic and LONG week. We had lots of company from Harding in Florence.

Wednesday night I went to the train station to pick up the two professors and their wives from Florence. Every semester there are different teachers there. This time they are Dr. Davis and Coach Bailey. Dr. Davis is the head of the music department at Harding. Jeannie was a little leery of having one of her former professors in her home, especially one that she always felt intimidated by. Mrs. Bailey works in the Business Building and knows Jeannie's mother very well. (This was figured out after they got here.)

They were supposed to be here about 10 PM. I drove the car to the central train station (Garibaldi) since it was so late and the traffic wouldn't be too bad. I still got lost, both going and coming, but only a little. I got to the station about 9:10. I went to the information counter to find out which track they were arriving on. He was telling me that the train I was looking for did not even come to Garibaldi, when my beeper went off. Jeannie had called the hospital and asked them to page me with a message. The four people I was to pick up had to get off at Mergellina, but were presently in the Garibaldi station. I was afraid it would take a long time to find them, but I actually found them within two minutes of getting the page. I was surprised they got to Naples so early and that the train they were on did not go all the way to Garibaldi.

Dr. Davis was the only one of the group that I knew. He just barely knew me. He was dressed more casual than I had ever seen him. I was happy that it was not too hard to find them.

We stayed up till nearly midnight visiting with them. I was most amazed that someone Jeannie and I had almost idolized was so "human." We really enjoyed having them here Wednesday night. It is nice to see a more relaxed side of Dr. Davis. It reminds us that the other teachers at Harding must be just as human as we are. They all seemed more "perfect" when we were students.

Jeannie drove them to Sorrento on Thursday. I took the kids to Faye's for the day. (That was a drop-in on Faye that she was not warned about, but she said it was fine. The kids are out of school this week and last.) In Sorrento, they spent two hours in the inlaid wood shop where we bought our table. They were given the same discount we are. They bought a lot. We are mailing the stuff to them so they don't have to carry it back. If Jeannie had not driven, they would not have bought so much. She left them at the ferry for Capri and got back late in the afternoon. They spent Friday in Capri and were to go to Pompei on Saturday, but we did not hear about them again. (They first asked Jeannie to just reserve them a hotel near the train station, but we insisted they stay the night with us on Wednesday.)

Thursday morning, after leaving the kids with Faye, I again went to the train station, but this time left my car at AFSOUTH. I was to meet David Stills and his roommate Eddie Shields at 9:24. Well, I was a little late getting there. It was okay because their train was about 15 minutes late. (They had to sit in the floor all the way to Naples.) I barely recognized David. The more I was with him the more he reminded me of Raymond. I guess you know he is wanting to go to medical school.

After finding them we went to the National Museum. We very quickly saw it. They are obviously tired of seeing museum after museum. I took them to Bagnoli Joe's for pizza at lunch. Since they are both biology majors, we went to the aquarium. I then drove them to the port where they caught a ferry to Capri. I drove home, put on my uniform and was at the hospital for a meeting before 3 PM. I was glad I was working the evening shift at Pinetamare that day.

David later told me they got to Capri and could not find a hotel room at a price they wanted to pay. They decided there wasn't that much to do in Capri anyway, so they caught the last ferry to Sorrento, Thursday before dark. They found a cheap room there without any problem. On Friday they went to our favorite inlaid wood shop and bought quite a bit. They rented mopeds and rode all over Sorrento and had a very good time there.

Friday night about 6:30 they called from Garibaldi station and I went (with Angelique) to the station in Bagnoli and picked them up. (This was pre-arranged.) We fed them steak and baked potatoes. They thought they had died and gone to heaven. In Florence, even at the school, they have only Italian meals. After supper we watched Star Trek III. They played on the computer just a little bit before they went to bed, close to midnight. They obviously had a good time here. (Both sets of visitors went crazy over the Dr. Pepper we served.)

We got up early enough Saturday morning that we got to Pompei shortly after it opened. It was the first Saturday and therefore free admission. It was a cool, cloudy day and started drizzling before we left. I was amazed at how fast we were able to see everything worth seeing.

On the way out they wanted to buy a book on Pompei. I told them which one I recommended. I warned them to offer half of whatever they were told it would cost. They both wanted the same book and were told it would cost 12,000 lire each. David offered 6,000. She came down to 10,000, but he stuck with 6,000. She then came down to 8,000. (I thought that was a good price.) When she came down to 7,000 David said they only wanted to pay 6,000 and started to leave for another shop. She sold it to them for 6,000 lire each, HALF what her original price was. A lot of people are getting ripped off. I was very surprised that she dropped the price so far and that David was such a hard bargainer. After it was all over David said he should have offered her 4,000. It was enjoyable.

We then bought a coke a piece and ate sandwiches in the car that Jeannie had fixed us. After we left there, we went to Vesuvius. We walked to the top. It was terribly windy, cold, and wet climbing the volcano. We were just crazy enough to do it, though. It was too cloudy to really see anything. Even the crater was full of fog most of the time we were at the top. It was so foggy that I couldn't find the way down into the crater.

After surviving that, we drove to Lago d'Averno. We went to Cuma for about 30 minutes. We got back to the house with enough time to get a snack. I put on my uniform and took them back to town.

They wanted to eat at Bagnoli Joe's again, so I left them there with instructions on how to get to the Vomero. They left Naples about 10 PM. I had to be at the hospital at 5 PM.

We enjoyed having them here very much. I still am not sure how we managed to do so much before I had to be at work. It was wonderful that everything was free that day. I was WORN OUT before I got to the hospital. Then it was a busy night in the ER and in labor & delivery.

before church -- 7 Apr 1985 after church -- 7 Apr 1985

I slept for an hour and a half after church yesterday. Then we went to the Winfree's for lunch with everyone else from church. The kids then hunted Easter eggs before we came home just in time for me to put on my uniform and go back to the hospital. WHAT A WEEKEND IT HAS BEEN.

The students and teachers from Florence were on their way to Greece. There are 37 students this semester. They pay tuition, room and board at the same price they would pay in Searcy. They pay an extra $1700 for plane tickets, Eurail passes, and several tours that they are all required to go on.

They are required to travel in groups of three. David and Eddie said they got an exception from that rule because they were coming to visit us.

The students and teachers were on their own till 1 PM yesterday when they were to all meet in Brindisi for church before going by ferry to Athens. Once in Brindisi, all expenses were already taken care of because of the $1700. In Greece they will take three tours that include lodging and all meals.

Most of the other students also saw Pompei, Sorrento, and Capri, on their own. David and Eddie were the only ones with a real tour of Pompei. They were able to see and do more than any of the other students while in this area.

The students obviously have learned well how to get around, even without speaking much Italian. They have certainly learned how to pack. They carry everything in backpacks. If you get a chance to talk to David this summer, you could learn from him about how they get around so easily.

You probably should call Raymond and Ann and let them know that David was here and doing (and looking) just fine. It is a marvelous opportunity for David to get to come to Europe. He learned a lot just from visiting us. I came close to having a wreck on the slick pavement at Ercolano on Saturday. It scared David to death. I told him such close calls go on all the time here.

If you talk to Raymond or Ann, tell them they are not to open the packages from us to David. They contain things he bought while here, but he wants them to wait till he is home.

After work Thursday night at the clinic, two of our corpsmen were on their way home with a corpsman from the hospital when they stopped to help at an accident close to Pinetamare. A drunk American driver hit the two from Pinetamare clinic. One was killed and the other got a bad break in a leg. They were afraid he would lose the leg. He was to go to his next duty station in about 25 days. Now it looks like he will be forced out of the service. I knew him the best of the ones involved. His wife is Italian and said she could get the drunk driver killed. (She probably can.) I barely knew the person that was killed. He was rotating to the clinic from the hospital to help in the pharmacy.

The drunk American did not stop at the scene and was only caught because he was involved in another accident a little farther down the road. The Italian authorities have him in jail, and he will probably be there for a very long time.

We were all sick at the clinic the next day. It could have been any one of us that it had happened to. The first accident occurred only a few minutes after I passed the spot.

I went to the clinic this afternoon to get the mail, but there was nothing from you. I then slept about two hours, so I ought to be caught up on my sleep. I am not sure how the idea ever started that doctors could live with less sleep than normal people.

I cannot think of anything else that I need to tell you. I will probably get a letter from you later this week.

We are all well here. I hope you are both fine too.

We love you,

Michael, Jeannie,
Angelique, and Steven

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