Dolls find happiness in Verona |

Dolls find happiness in Verona

Shirley Welch
Vail CO, Colorado

The last six months of Frank’s tenure, he acted as the inspector general. The job had two duties: To inspect units, and to listen to complaints from Army personal or their dependents on their treatment that they are receiving.

For three years, Frank and his family lived in Verona, Italy. A charming part of the country, Frank found he could live happily there. At that time, very few Army personal were stationed in Italy. Headquarters was called Southern European Task Force with the closest United States Army troupes being some 35 miles away, although the sub-headquarters of NATO was stationed in Verona. That meant there were people from many different countries.

Sharon attended school in Vicenza. To get to school each day, Sharon and the other high school children climbed on a train in Verona. Once aboard, the doors slid shut and they were locked. Inside the car an armed guard rode with the students to school and back again. By the time Sharon graduated, she spoke fluent Italian.

One day while Frank was inspecting the high school in Vicenza, Frank found the principal because the day before Sharon had come home with a report card, giving her a D in Italian and Frank was smoking over the fact. So the principal got a hold of the Italian teacher, a shrewish looking woman with skin as wrinkled as a walnut but very much a scholarly type woman.

Frank asked the teacher, “Can you tell me why Sharon got a D in Italian. I know she works very hard.”

The woman tilted her head back and lifted her chin an inch. “Well, yes, you see Sharon speaks with a Verona dialect and here in this school we speak with a Vicenza dialect.”

So Sharon may not have been able to speak with a Vicenza dialect but she graduated from high school a few years later in Stockton, Calif. and went into nursing training and got a job in the main hospital. Most of the patients at that time were Italian and did not speak fluent English. One day, Sharon overhead a prominent patient complaining in Italian and stepped in to translate. From then on, Sharon had her place in the hospital as chief communicator, even if she didn’t speak with the Vicenza dialect.

In Italy, most of the meals the family ate came from food purchased at the commissary. However, some exploring brought them memorable meals, one from a castle and another of fresh rainbow trout plucked from the river and then grilled.

About a half an hour drive ” 17 miles ” from Verona was Lake Garda, the biggest lake in Europe. Lake Garda was where the 10th Mountain Division ended up after WWII. A huge lake, it offered everything in the form of recreation, from swimming to water skiing, to picnic grounds, to horse shoes. During the summers, every Saturday and Sunday Frank and his family would go to the lake and spend the day at the Officer’s Beach, swimming and water skiing. The officers had use of two really good speed boats and Frank and his family shared this beach with about 50 other families.

Usually all those going first stopped at a local market for fresh fruit, something to put on the grill, and to fill their gallon jugs with wine selected from big casks at the market, chosen from about eight different varieties. Usually, the families arrived by mid-morning and stayed until it got dark. The following day they repeated the procedure. Mostly, Frank recalls, it took a lot to consume so many gallons of wine in a day but they usually succeeded.

When Frank looks back on his years in the military, he has to agree that those years in Italy turned out to be years of good duty. If there were another place in the world, except the Eagle Valley, where Frank would consider living, it would be there in Verona, where the wine tasted good, the days on the lake were memorable, and the fruits and vegetables were tasty and the people were friendly.

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