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‘Welcome to America’

Finally it was time to return to the States. To leave Italy after three years was difficult. Frank and Imogene had many friends as did the girls. In the days preceding their departure, many parties were given for the family and an especially late party the last night they were in Italy. For this trip home, Frank and his family would travel by air and they needed to get to the big international airport in the northwest corner of Italy.

After the going-away party, Frank got the family up at 3 a.m. at the miserable little hotel where they stayed and arrived at the post to ride the bus to the airport. By 6 a.m., Frank sat like a statue behind the bus driver, still feeling the effects from the night before and working on a few hours sleep. They arrived at the airport about 9:30, and Frank decided he was nearly feeling human. Next Frank herded his family to the ticket counter.

There a tall Italian man told Frank, “The airplane that will take you to New York is fueling in New York right now.”



Frank’s brows pinched together. “You mean we are going to be here all day waiting for the plane?”

“That’s right.”



Frank groaned. He turned to Imogene. “Looks like we are going to be here all day.”

Imogene’s face turned pale.

The rest of the day was more of a nightmare that Frank would just as soon forget. It was hot with absolutely nothing to do inside the airport. The little kids bickered and screamed, while the teenagers, who had boyfriends there to see them off, acted like lovebirds and generally were obnoxious. The only redeeming thing was that the bar finally opened and that helped mitigate the situation somewhat.



Finally, Frank and the family loaded the plane at 5 o’clock and landed at the same time at JFK. After locating their car, which they had shipped to America a month ahead of time, Frank and the family finally arrived at the hotel where they would stay for the next few nights. After unloading the car, Imogene took the girls inside and Frank tended to the car. When he came back inside the hotel, he found Imogene waiting for him, exhausted and with a glass of wine in her hand.

Frank said, “Oh, good. I see you found the bar.”

“Yes,” she replied. “But I don’t have any American money. You’re going to have to pay for my wine.”

Frank went to the bar. “How much for my wife’s glass of wine?”

“That will be three dollars and sixty cents,” the bartender replied.

After paying it Frank said, “In Italy that glass of wine wouldn’t be more than fifty cents.”

“Welcome to America,” the bartender said with a smile.

The next few days, the Doll family spent sightseeing in New York. They visited the Worlds Fair, and while it was a wonderful experience to take three children to the fair, the waiting lines were two hours for every exhibit they wanted to see. Hot sticky air and cranky kids made for a difficult day. After another day of sightseeing, the family began their trip back to Colorado, stopping in Boston along the way.

Once they arrived in Colorado, Frank had a months leave and it was an enjoyable time, catching up with family and enjoying Colorado. After the month was up, the family traveled to Stockton, Calif. Once there, the family stayed in a motel. Despite getting no help with finding a house from the National Guard personal, the people at the motel were a great help and found Frank a real estate agent. After three days, Frank had not found a suitable house for the family and his patience grew thin, not to mention Imogene, who had to keep the girls happy in a motel.

On the fourth day, he told the agent, “I need to find a house today.”

Thankfully, they drove by a house that had just come on the market. The house was the right size and the price was right and bingo, Frank bought it that same day.

Because their furniture was being shipped from Italy and came by boat, Frank and Imogene had to rent furniture for the new home, especially beds so everyone could sleep. Days passed and the furniture from Italy did not arrive and more days passed. Frank finally found out there was a dock strike and he could not do anything about it, which was an uncomfortable situation for Frank, since he was a “can do” military man.

Finally, their household goods arrived by train, and Frank was called to come to the train yard to inspect the car because the seal on the train car had been broken.

A deputy accompanied Frank and Imogene to the train yard. “Will you inspect the car, please?”

“What do you mean?”

“We need to know if something is missing.”

Frank looked at a wall of boxes and furniture. “I have no idea,” he told the deputy.

“Will you sign a paper that says you will accept it?”

Frank nodded. “I have to.” So he signed the papers and took possession of the train car full of their goods.

Eventually, all the goods in the train car were delivered to their new house and to Frank and Imogene’s surprise, they found everything packed exceptionally well, with not a thing broken or out of place. These goods had been packed by the Italians.

When they had traveled to Italy, their goods were packed by Americans and many of those things were damaged or broken.

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