Wednesday, December 06, 2006

1 April 1956

Dear Folks

Eight-fifteen on Easter Sunday, 1956—a holiday on the calendar only. The whole day has passed in that state of passive nothingness so many of the days do around here. Two months & six days & we’ll be on our way home. 133 days before my discharge.

Tomorrow we leave San Remo for Valencia, from where I hope to go to Madrid. But nothing is certain around here, so we shall see.

Last night we climbed a mountain. Lloyd, myself, & two other mess cooks were out wandering around when we ran into two American girls going to school at the Sorbonne in Paris. One was from Georgia & the other from Louisiana & they had just the syrupy-est drawls you evah did heah.. We talked to them for awhile—they speak French with a Southern drawl, which is no mean accomplishment.

After awhile we left them, & Bader (one of the guys) said he knew a nice place "up on the hill." San Remo is surrounded by "hills" that would stand out like sore thumbs in Illinois. We said OK, & he said: "We can either walk or take a taxi." Only having about four dollars between us, we decided to walk.

So we walked—it wasn’t so bad at first. As we got into the older part of the city, where the houses cluster together & only grudgingly permit narrow streets, it got a little steeper. At last we came to the "suburbs," where the houses are more scarce, but where the paths are hemmed in by garden walls. An occasional dim streetlight emits a bare light. The paths became very steep, & on the other side of the walls, the tall silhouettes of poplar trees stand black against a black sky. Now & then a dog barks, but otherwise it is deathly silent, with only the ghostly street lamps far apart.

We came, half dead, to a place where we could look down on the city, twinkling like scattered diamonds, with a necklace of light along the shore reflecting from the water. Out in the water was another group of lights, echoed in long shimmering lines, that might have been a small village on an island—it was the Ti. I could have stayed up there & just looked for hours.

When we finally reached the restaurant, 787 feet above sea level, we had a large plate of spaghetti (for only 50 cents).

Where I’d had trouble coming up, Lloyd had trouble going down—somehow, though the path twisted & turned & there was only one way down, we lost the other two, who’d walked on ahead.
Not wanting to come back to the ship, we went back to the little bar we’d visited every time we’d been ashore, to say goodbye to Maria & her folks. We stayed there for awhile, watching the Milan Opera Company do "Madam Butterfly" on TV, & returned to the ship at about 2300 or so.

And so to bed, after first sweeping down the office—which I am quite sure Boswell never had to do.



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