Monday, December 24, 2012
POST 1025; DECEMBER 24, 2012; SEATTLE, WASHINGTON (1955-1956)
NAPLES, ITALY and MT. VESUVIUS, taken from Via Posillipo...a few blocks from the home of Joanie and I...POMPEII sits at the far upper right.
* * * * * * * * * *
Bellingham, Christmas Eve, 2012...I sit alone in my small apartment in Bellingham, Washington, creating my "bare bones" biographical sketch. Interspersed in companion blogs are current-time updates of my activities and preparation(s) to continue my round-the-world walk...next up: Lisbon, Portugal to the Sea of Japan via French Riviera, Venice, Caspian Sea, ( picking up the ancient Silk Road) Gobi Desert, and Beijing, China. Planned departure from Lisbon: Fall of 2013; ETA Sea of Japan ( 7,500 miles, approx. ) prior to June 30, 2015, my 80th birthday.
I am currently searching for Internet / phone service to allow communication / blog update in the endless tracts of the Middle and Far East. Assistance would be greatly appreciated.
In the meantime, we left Bruce and Joanie having been recently married.....
* * * * * * * * * *
Joanie, having graduated from Lincoln High School, Seattle, Washington, is settling down to being a housewife to her new US Air Force husband. Neither Joanie nor I have an appreciation of what we have entered upon...me, from a stump ranch...and she, descendants of Norwegian boatmen...her father, Ole, having been born in Aalusund, Norway, near the Arctic Circle where the Sun never sets...and the Cod Fish are always biting.
If I thought I have been maneuvered about during the recent year or so, I am now being inundated with near daily suggestions, proposals, and even coercion to enter into vocations deemed - by the Seattle Scandinavian community - to be appropriate for a newcomer into their society.
Primary among those riding my back is to enter the University of Washington. I have, as the result of 4 years of honorable US Air Force service, earned a four-year full tuition paid grant from the US Government; i.e., I am entitled to 4 years of college training at NO COST.
Simultaneous, brother Jim has arrived from Kennewick, having just graduated from high school. Jim will enter U of W in September 1956...and is lobbying for me to join him.
Alas, with my continuing luggage from June 1952, I carry such a heavy guilt, that I am still reluctant to poke my head above my "ostrich hole" for fear of degrading, tainting, and embarrassing those around me.
I DECLINE ALL EFFORTS TO ENROLL ME INTO U OF W.
Instead, I am so tired of being hounded that I should do this...I MUST do that...that I opt to re-enlist in the U.S. Air Force, with assignment to Hamilton AFB, California...taking me 1,000 miles away from all the fuss.
Needless to say, Jeanne and Ole are devastated.
My parents are non-committal...57 years later, I find out why.
Jim takes the opportunity to become a crew member on board the 100 foot salmon trawler of Joanie's Uncle, Ivar S., heading out into the Bearing Sea in search of salmon. I, too, could just as easily join my new Father in law, Ole, on his HOOVER Halibut boat, sailing out of Ketchikan...but I do not.
Joanie and I purchase a 16 foot house trailer, hitch it up to my 1949 Merc. and head for California. We settle down in a small trailer court in Novato...Joanie now pregnant, spending lots of time with other service wives while I slide back into the Staff Judge Advocate Offices reviewing courts martial.
Brother Jim enters the U of W in the AFROTC (Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corp).
In June 1957, I request and receive orders to transfer to Naples, Italy...a good 7,000 miles away from the Nordic influences still after me to change my ways.
On July 18, 1957, Son, Bruce, Jr. is born. In August 1957, we board a DC 7 for the flight to New York City, where we will board a MSTS Ship bound for Naples, Italy.
As we board our plane in Sea-Tac (Seattle-Tacoma) Airport, Joanie is crying...we, I say...lump in my throat..., are just moving on to a new chapter in our lives...
leaving behind many frustrated and angry family members. I put them out of my mind as we walk the streets of Manhattan, New York. Queen Elizabeth II is scheduled to visit the Empire State Building as we take the elevator to the observation deck. We quickly descend, grab a taxi, and rush back to the Brooklyn Naval Shipyard to retrieve my camera...only to be told that our sailing time has been moved up...we must board in 4 hours...QE2 we miss.
We are assigned a cabin with shared bath. Bruce, Jr. is snuggled into the top drawer of the steel dresser, where he sleeps comfy the entire trip to Naples.
Our bath-mate is a US Navy Chief (E-8) with two teen age daughters. A couple interesting bathroom confrontations occur because the girls refuse to lock their side of the bathroom door to our cabin...later in Naples, we learn that the Ship Chaplain has taken certain liberties with our neighbor girls...but that is another story.
I'm still learning about grown ups.
We enjoy an uneventful cruise across the Atlantic Ocean, stopping first in Morocco, where we join a tour group...and a dinner ashore before rejoining the ship.
A few days later, we pull into Barcelona, Spain...the port from which Columbus sailed in 1492, where we visit Old Town...complete with live-in Dark Ages craftsmen shops...and, of course, the magnificent Cathedral...
Crossing the Tyrrhenian Sea, our ship slips into the harbor of Pisa, Italy, where Joanie and I tour this ancient city...climbing to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and visiting the Piazza del Duomo, where one must be cautious inside the domed cathedral...as a whisper in any part of the building is heard clearly in all corners.
Before boarding ship, Joanie and I were invited to breakfast in one of the ancient restaurants of Pisa. I order "French Toast". Having never heard such a thing, I was asked to prepare french toast as at home back in Seattle...which the chefs shared with apparent delight.
Re boarding our ship, we cruised the final few miles to the Bay of Naples, disembarking, finding temporary housing in the village of Vomoro...
...on top of the steep hill forming the north boundary of the ancient Greek (and certainly many civilizations before Greece, dating thousands of years before Christ) city of:
NAPLES, COMPAGNIA, ITALY
We find a magnificent all marble 3-bedroom apartment on the 7th floor of a nearly new apartment building at the intersection of MICHAELANGELO de CARAVAGGIO and VIA POSILLIPO...only 1/2 block across the street from the walled villa of LUCKY LUCIANO, recently deported from the United States.
Joanie is somehow sad.