happiness

Mom’s Tour de France 16 (FGK 107)

I have to say, after my years spent in the South I finally understand how useful the phrase “y’all” is (as well as the plural versions including both y’all and all y’all). I never got it before, but y’all is at least as handy a phrase as our Canadian “eh”, maybe even more so.

These letters really impress me – people are so kind. There are so many random strangers who just appear and make mom’s trip more enjoyable. Not just how they help her physically get around, but how they invite her (and her friends) places and try to ensure they have the best possible opportunities to see all the sights and take in the essence of Rome.

Part one of this letter:

December 5th, 1960

Hello Y’all (Mustn’t forget my stay in the South)

I returned this morning at 3am to find a nice little pile of letters waiting for me in my box.

Rome is past- and it all seems like it was a dream which was too good to be true. We have ours this and next week <I assume exams??> so everyone in the group has a pressed and worried feeling. I can’t remember when I last wrote you from Rome so I may miss a few experiences in my letters – but that will give me more to tell you when I get home.

We were taken on our most fascinating tour Wednesday morning when we were taken through the Roman forum by a man from the American Academy who is writing a book on the subject. He had the gift of making the past come alive for us as we walked among the ruins, ancient temples, and palaces. It was a bright summy day and all the Marble columns stood out against the deep green grass – a day which makes me decide I should have learned Italian instead of French! He told us the history of the spot -factual and traditional, and how it evolved from a swamp separating the tribes to a meeting place to arrange peace. They are still discovering new facts about it. Johnny, Russ, Robby, and Larry all made sure I got to the very heights of the Palatine hill. I’ve told them if they ever come to Canada I’ll have them out for a big steak. They really got me into some of the most impossible places during our stay there. I snapped all sorts of slides there so you will have an opportunity to see some of the things we saw there. I am going to send them home to be developed as I’ve been told they make a better job of the colour processing in America. I’ll give you the number of my film so you can send me a bunch which will be paid for the processing in advance – then I can send them directly to the company.

By the time we had spent four hours climbing all over the forum, we were starving so we sought out a bus to take us home as quickly as possible. We had barely gotten on it when the conductor started making all sorts of gestures while explaining something in great length in Italian. He spoke neither French or English so we were at a loss. Finally another man got on the bus who spoke French and translated for us. The conductor wanted to know if he could take us on a tour of Rome in his car in the afternoon. We were overwhelmed because we had never even seen the man before but also sensed that he really wanted to do this very much so we said this would please us. That afternoon he called around a the villa in his little car and jammed Pat, Russ, Gail and I in it. None of us spoke Italian but Russ had a phrase book with which we tried to make some sense. He took us to see one of the more famous churches – there we met a couple who spoke French so we were able to communicate somewhat with our friend. From there we went to one of the hills where we could see the entire city with the mountains in the background. As it was at sunset, the whole scene had a rosy tinge which reflected off the sky and mountains. He took us to St. Peter’s which Russ had never seen (the rest of couldn’t explain that we’d already been there – besides there is always something new to see.) By this time it was getting dark so we went back to the villa. Russ tried to buy him a drink to express our thanks, but while he willingly accepted the vermouth, he wouldn’t let us pay for it. He wanted to take us out again the next day also, but since this was already planned we regretfully declined. He just wanted to do something kind and help us as much as he could.

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