60 Years Ago Today

Sunday, 22 June 1952:

Breakfast was in our room again. At 8:30 a.m. we had our bags down and then we had chorus practice. Afterwards we wandered around the streets until we went to church. In the church the fan had to be turned off in order to hear anything. And it was so warm in there! I shook hands with everyone—so wonderful too! Two members gave talks and then we took over the program and repeated “Paree.” At the conclusion we shook hands with everyone again. Margaret Brown gathered some francs to give to the missionaries for some of the poorer members. Instead of going to dinner we hurried back to the amphitheater to take pictures and see the marines marching. We stopped and picked up dry ham sandwiches and ate them on the way.

At 1:30 p.m. we left Nice via a beautiful scenic seaside route. My adjectives failed me at this time. We don’t have enough superlatives in English to describe the scenes we discovered today. Then we stopped for a half an hour in Monte Carlo at the famous casino. The State of Monaco was not part of France or Italy, but a sovereign city state on the French Riviera. This was everything I imagined it would be.

As the French and Italian border came up, Herr Watkins collected our passports. A French customs agent stamped our whole lot and passed them back down to us. We drove a little ways and then two Italian officials came on the bus to check our passports individually. They were nice and courteous. A little farther down the road we came to some more officials where we had to declare our cash. Dick took a list into the customs office and we were off to see Italy.

The first thing I noticed In Italy was the ruins of the bombed buildings. The buildings were pock marked with shells among the terraced fields, which were not sloping like in Mexico. A great black cloud appeared in contrast to the pure blue of the water. Then a long black train emerged from the smoke below.

We traveled from high to low and up high we could see the roads across the water. Herr Watkins said it marked the shallow spots. The water near the shoreline was transparent and it took on different hues depending on the sea floor. I lost track of the towns, because I was too busy absorbing the beauty of the coastline.

We passed through Mignon, Vertimighlia, Imperia, Alsesai, and Albengia before reaching Savona. And along this gorgeous drive we looked at beautiful fields of roses, local patches of maroonie-purplish flowers along the fences, and flowers hanging from the walls of the mountains. We were taken back to World War II by the shelled buildings in almost every town. There were more winding picturesque roads.

Later we saw a bicycle race and a group of boys and girls dressed alike with short, striped shirts apparently going home from school. In one town, they had flags of all different colors flying and a Navy band marching. It must be some kind of celebration. Some place along our way someone yelled to us and Andre discovered we were leaking gas or oil.

We stopped at the next town and spent some time there getting a new gasket. I took a nap just before we got there, so I missed some of the excitement. When I woke up I spotted a beautiful Italian girl. On our way again as dusk fell, we sang all the old famous hymns starting with America. We passed through several tunnels as the road followed the beach closely.

It was after nine at night when we started coming into Savona. After winding through the dark streets, we came to a stop on a street. I couldn’t tell which door was the Hotel Alberto. Herr Watkins warned us to watch our bags and travel in large groups for safety.

At the hotel we went through the café to the hotel desk where 18 of us were staying. The rest of us were in another hotel through the street. The room looked much better than the facade would have indicated. The WC wasn’t so hot though, but this was more like what we had been expecting all along.

The maid insisted on taking all of our passports. Yours truly was bound and determined not to give it up, but I did! We had a good laugh out of it later. This was what happens all over Italy in registering at a hotel.

The dinner in the hotel café was good. I had spaghetti, meat, salad and fruit for 60 lire. I dropped into bed exhausted. It was creaky, but felt wonderful.

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