Italy, the land of small cars and big dreams |

Italy, the land of small cars and big dreams

To transport the family, which had grown to five with the addition of daughter, Patty, to the ship leaving for Europe, a large black Ford taxi cab arrived at the hotel to take the family. The cab driver took one look at the family of five and all eleven pieces of luggage and shook his head.

“I can’t get all your bags and you into the cab,” the cabby told Frank. “Besides, it’s against the law for me to carry five people.”

Frank looked at the pile of luggage and nodded his head. “So get another cab.”

“Will do,” the cabby replied and radioed to headquarters for another cab.

So another huge black Ford came along and between the two cabs, the drivers split the luggage and the family. At long last they arrived at the dock and looked up to see the most gigantic ship they had ever seen. The Doll family would sail aboard the USS Independence from New Jersey, stopping in the Madeira Islands and North Africa before landing in Genoa. The trip took 11 days. At age 14, daughter Sharon and shared a room with the daughter of the ambassador of the United States to Rhodesia. Kathy, age 8, and younger sister Patty, roomed with their parents.

Once the family arrived in Genoa they needed to get to the train station to transfer by train to Verona. At the taxi station, Frank ordered a cab. Next to Frank stood the American military personal who had been assigned to meet them. A little Fiat car rattled up to the family, a cloud of smoke trailing from the tail pipe. “I don’t think we can all get in that,” Frank told the man. “We are going to need about four of those.”

The military man shook his head and said, “Oh, no. Just watch.”

Before Frank could get another word in, the cabby loaded all of their luggage in the car, some in the trunk, most on top, and some in the passenger section. Then all five of the Doll family somehow got in and the little car sped away.

When Frank finally arrived in Verona, his orders were to report to the Inspector General’s Office. To Frank this was just about inconceivable because the Inspector General was sort of like the military version of the head of the FBI. The job was to determine the fitness of the Army units once a year. Right away, Frank was assigned Chief of Inspections. There was no training for this job, no school to attend, so manuals to read. When Frank reported to the Inspector General in Italy, he found a Irishman who originated from San Francisco.

The IG asked Frank, “Major, have you ever done any of this type of work before?”

Frank shook his head negatively, “No, sir, other than being company commander.”

The IG replied, “Well, sir, your experiences are going to be broadened beyond your wildest dreams.”

And it was.

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