Thursday, 22 Aug 1985

Dear Mom and Dad,

It is nearly 10 PM, but I need to write you a letter. I have been meaning to all week.

We got a letter from you on Monday. I just haven't gotten in the mood to write.

The kids finished up their swim lessons last week. I filmed one day of it so you will be able to see it. You won't believe what Angelique is doing.

I can't believe I haven't written since the 6th. Not much has happened except our 10th wedding anniversary. There is nothing on my car. Now that the magical "forty days" have gone by, they are telling me that since it is August I will have to wait even longer. I have arranged to buy a '79 Ford Fiesta. Because of the stupid rules around here I will have to get a power of attorney on it, and then buy it from myself later.

Last Thursday about noon we left the kids with Faye and went to Rome. We stayed two nights in one of the most expensive hotels in Rome. We got the room through the USO for $76 per night. It normally costs $125. We even had breakfast served in our room one morning. Our hotel was on Via Veneto, the classiest street in Rome. It was next to the wall and one of the city gates.

old city gate - 15 Aug 1985 old city wall - 17 Aug 1985
View of the old city wall of Rome at the top of Via Veneto and from the balcony of our hotel room.

We left the car parked and walked everywhere. We ate supper the first night on the sidewalk across the piazza from the Pantheon. We saw the fountain of Trevi. That was much more impressive than I expected.

Pantheon - 15 Aug 1985 Trevi Fountain - 15 Aug 1985

Jeannie near the Spanish Steps - 16 Aug 1985 Friday morning we tried to go to the Borghese Museum, but it was closed for the summer for repairs. We went to the Etruscan museum at Villa Guilia instead. Then we walked to the Spanish Steps. Jeannie wanted to shop but over half of the shops were closed because mid-August is a holiday season in Italy. The city was nearly deserted compared to other times. We did find some very nice Capodimonte plates of the four seasons that were expensive, but we couldn't go home without them.

Monument to Victor Emmanuel II  - 15 Aug 1985 Spanish Steps - 16 Aug 1985

That afternoon we decided to take a bus back to the hotel, but we ended up riding it all around its circuit. That was a joke. The bus stopped twice for about 20 minutes. The first time we had to get on another bus with the same number. Both times it stopped we were the only people on the bus. We were glad to finally get off the bus, and decided it was easier to walk.

We also went to the bone museum at the church of Santa Maria della Concenzione. They have four or five rooms there that are decorated with the bones of 4000 monks. We both thought it was in poor taste!

our Fiat on the Via Appia - 17 Aug 1985 Saturday morning we went to the catacomb of San Sebastiano on the Appian Way. It was very interesting, but a little disappointing, even though we were warned not to expect much. It is very much not worth the trip all the way from Naples to take you. When you come we will go the catacombs in Naples. We haven't been there, but understand it is much more interesting than Rome's.

temple in Ostia  - 17 Aug 1985 early Christian basilica in Ostia - 17 Aug 1985
The remains of the Capitolium temple in the forum (on the left)
and the 4th century Christian basilica in ancient Ostia.

We then drove all the way out the old Appian Way till we got on the Autostrada. We went to Ostia. This is very much like Pompeii. It was the port for Rome. We both found it very interesting. But it is a ghost town. All the people moved out in the 500's because of malaria.

We drove back to Naples on the Domiziana rather than the Autostrada. It was much cooler closer to the sea. The trip took longer, but was very interesting.

Egyptian bridge near Cleopatra's palace  - 17 Aug 1985 bridge near Cleopatra's palace - 17 Aug 1985
The Egyptian bridge near Cleopatra's palace along the Domiziana highway.

It was terribly hot while we were in Rome. The trip to Rome was almost unbearable. The temperature in the car must have been over 100. The air conditioner in our hotel was sure nice. We hated to leave it.

When we got to Faye's house about 6 PM Saturday, the kids asked to stay another night. We couldn't believe it. It was relaxing to get home and rest, though.

On Monday night we took the Cummings to a restaurant on the other side of the lake. They came back to our house for dessert. We played cards while the kids played and watched cartoons. The Cummings moved out of their house on Tuesday. We do miss having them here. They were such trustworthy and reliable neighbors.

Angelique is to start school this Monday. She is really looking forward to it. She does seem a little nervous about it though. Jeannie and I can't figure out WHAT they will teach her.

Our weather here is changing every day to a bit hotter or a bit cooler. It is still terribly dry. Carney Park almost went up in flames last week.

Be prepared to wait long hours on airplane boarding. Don't worry about bombs and such. The risk is almost nonexistant. You will probably have to be at the airport two to two and a half hours before take off. They have really gotten serious about security.

It is beyond my comprehension why they told ahead of time that they were going to raid the marijuana crops in Arkansas. But since I have seen how the Navy works, I am not surprised by anything the government does.

It sounds like you are serious about moving if you are looking at houses. Few people keep house as well as you do.

Will you make a profit on the land at Bergman? Why are you selling?

The kids have never even heard of what you are sending Steven for his birthday.

Angelique and Steven are getting more interested in the letters you send. They go crazy over the balloons, too.

The new doctor we sponsored did not stay with us. She stayed in a hotel across from the base. She is presently touring Europe. I have to pick her up at the airport this Saturday.

The dinosaur book is over the kids' heads. I wanted it because it was recommended for five-year-olds. We will just put it away until they are ready for it in a few years. I thought it was very good. We loaned it to Faye's kids to read. They enjoyed it very much.

There are six houses on our street now. The block party was probably Jeannie's idea. She wanted everyone to get together before the Cummings left. We will tell more about the neighborhood when you get here.

I decreased the voltage on the dryer to much less than I thought it could be done and work. But it now works just fine. The electricity and electronics here just work by magic anyway. A few days ago there was an 8000 Volt power spike to Naples. I am glad my computer wasn't on then. It burned up things at other people's houses.

I doubt that I could ever get Jeannie to live in Harrison because of the church and the hills. I would love to take over someone's practice. However, I practice medicine very differently than Dr. Hammond. All his patients would go elsewhere after seeing me the first time.

We did not go to the Blue Grotto at Capri. Unless the sun is just right, it is not a very impressive place.

The market you went to in Naples is called "shoe alley" by the Americans.

We will go to Sorrento while you are here. There are so many interesting shops that we have discovered there since you were here. You will wonder how we could have missed so much of the town.

If I take you to Mt. Vesuvius, don't plan on me walking to the top again. I have been to the top for the last time. It looked the same every time I was up there.

We did not miss anything in Pompeii that was worth seeing. We will spend a couple hours at Ercolano (Herculaneum). We have been to the town of Castelamare di Stabia, but have never figured out where the ruins are. There are only a couple of villas there as far as I know.

I decided I must be using too heavy paper for letters to you. I am sorry you have to pay postage. We have never had to pay extra postage here as far as I can remember.

Jeannie was in Venice in February. The week before she was there they were filming "Days of Our Lives" there. It was even mentioned in the paper here. A class from the high school here did watch them film.

No matter how David injured his knee the Navy would still take care of it. We take care of everything no matter how it happened. I am not sure if I would want to watch on T.V. while I was having surgery.

Anyway, I have run out of anything to say. We look forward to your coming. Please send me an itinerary right before you leave. I still have the old one, but am not sure how accurate it is.

I will try to write one more time before you come if I don't forget the address.

Lots of Love,

Michael, Jeannie,
Angelique, and Steven

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