27 March 1956
Yes, it is I—your roving son, four days late but here nonetheless. Saturday Lloyd Meyers & I (haven’t I written since then? Seems I recall mentioning him somewhere) went over to see the town. It rained every single minute, but we had our raincoats & didn’t get too wet. San Remo is a nice little town, typically Italian with narrow side streets & back alleys. Some beautiful modern apartments—many, in fact, growing out of steep hillsides & along the coastline. Buildings are all pastels, with a few harsh shades in the modern ones. We covered almost every inch of the city, including going up & down mountains. In some places in the older parts of the city, the streets are only six feet wide or so, & very steep. People evidently throw their garbage right into the streets, for they’re lined with eggshells & bits of vegetables. Sometimes the streets become tunnels, where the buildings are built right over them. And then, in all these narrow little passageways, you’ll come to a small open square surrounded with pink & yellow buildings, with green shutters on the windows & laundry hanging out of them. In the center of these little squares will be a small fountain of some kind—usually shaped vaguely like the Washington Monument, only about six feet high.
That night we had spaghetti & wine for supper. I ordered "Vino dolche"—sweet wine—but they bought that just-been-stomped-on stuff the Italians drink for water. From there we went on & had a vermouth, more wine, & finally ended up in a small bar & settled down to gin fizzes. The bars over here are just beginning to advertise TV. This one had it, too, though it wasn’t advertised. The station (no "s") comes on at 8:30 p.m.. Reception is fair, & programs pretty good.
This particular bar is run by a family—momma, who reminds me somewhat of Aunt Marge—poppa, & Maria, their 16 year old daughter. It’s a small place, with only five or six tables, but modern, being in one of the new apartment buildings.
Sunday I can’t remember what I did—went to the movie, probably. Don’t remember writing a letter, though I may have. Yes, I guess I did at that. Oh, well…
Monday we (Lloyd & I) went on a tour. Aside from the fact that we drove off & left our guide—who didn’t catch up to us until we’d sat at the French-Italian border for an hour—was pretty good. It was worth the money just to get off the ship. We crossed the Franco-Italian border on foot just far enough to take a quick picture & came back to the bus, safely parked in Italy. From where we were, I could see the odd-shaped mountain that rises over Monaco (Monte Carlo).
Ate lunch in Imperia, a smallish (I’m "small-happy" tonite, aren’t I?) town—the bus parked in the town square, directly across from the gloomy building housing the "Partito Communista Italiene"—Italian Communist Party (Imperia branch).
Back to San Remo by four; we left the bus & fleet landing & headed for a park along the waterfront—Lloyd wanted to get a picture of some palm trees with the Ti in the background.
Another kid came with us—Jack Moore, a good looking kid from Tennessee, minus the drawl. He has, if I may say, beautiful eyes—he’s very dark & his eyes are light blue or grey—you seldom see people like that, & they fascinate me.
We went back later to the same bar & more gin fizz. I was elected to talk to Maria because I can speak a little Spanish. Maria can’t speak Spanish, but we got along, after long struggles with me trying to think of the right word.
Incidentally, I’m getting to be quite a linguist. I can say "sweet wine," "thank you" (Gratzia), "you’re welcome" (Prego), "excuse me" (permisso—pronounced like "pedermeeso"), "good morning/evening" (Buena suerte/sera), & "goodbye." (Arivederche). My spelling is probably as bad as my pronunciation, but I have fun..
On the way back to the ship, Jack pretended he was completely drunk—he does it very well--& whiled away the forty-five minutes we had to wait for a boat by dickering with a peddler over some music boxes. There were about fifteen music boxes on the cart, & Jack had to listen to every single one of them. He ended up buying a Parker 51 pen with his last 1,000 lire.
Now for more news on the European Front. The Lebanese earthquake, I learned from as reliable a source as it is possible to get around here, did hit Baalbek & toppled two of the remaining 6 columns of the Temple of Jupiter, & all the remaining cornice. That is a real shame—they were so beautiful & so unbelievably huge. To think, had it come four days earlier, had we been there four days later, we might have seen it. And I do have some of the last pictures ever taken of them. I don’t know what happened to the Temple of Bacchus—it was just being reconstructed after an earthquake in 1745. Things do happen.
A mere 137 days to go.
Oh, yes—I’m allowing myself one more extravagance while in the Med; a tour is leaving from Valencia (by air) for four days in Madrid. I’m going, if I possibly can.
Well, it’s almost taps, & so I’d better close.