What Was Life Like For a Military Family in Naples, Italy?
Prior to traveling to Italy our daughter, who was around 10 years old, twisted her ankle and had to be on crutches during the trip. When we arrived in Naples, my wife thought it would be best if we had her and my daughter spend some time in Germany with her parents. Travel to Germany was by train and we had quite an adventure. My daughter’s ability to get around was greatly restricted because of her being on crutches. After we got on the train I left our luggage in the car we boarded and then searched for seats for my family. A few cars later we did find seats but never went back to move the many pieces of luggage. It was not until about half way through the trip that we stopped near the Swiss boarder. We seemed to be in the station for quite a while and I happened to look out the window and saw our luggage setting on the boarding platform. The end of the train was gone and they had removed our luggage and placed it on the platform. I quickly retrieved the luggage and we continued the trip.
I returned to Naples by myself and began the search for housing. The local Navy housing office had Italian contacts that would act on our behalf and find us a place to live. I choose the Lucrino area. This area was located about 10 miles north of Naples and, although I did not know it at the time, was the Italian summer resort area. I rented the 2nd story of an Italian villa right on the sea front. I am sorry to say I cannot remember the name of the Italian who helped us find the villa and also helped with our moving in. He helped us obtain and install a transformer on the incoming electric lines to change half of the circuits in the house from 220 to 110 volts. This helped us with our electrical appliances. He also did all the interfacing with the landlord and helped us very much. The Navy provides for the shipment of household goods and a car when a military member is assigned overseas. We knew we would not be moving into government quarters in Italy while we were still in Key West.
The one major appliance we felt we should take with us was a refrigerator. My wife and I went shopping in Key West and bought a very large used refrigerator. It was quite a sight to see one Italian with the refrigerator strapped to his back bring the refrigerator up the stairs. The only problem was that when he set it down he damaged the motor. The moving company took the refrigerator to get it fixed and we ended up getting a new 220 volt motor. All in all it turned out very well and the refrigerator was a good item for resale when we left Italy. The Navy also allowed us to order a living room couch and chairs from Sears and paid to have it shipped to Italy. I feel that the military always provided excellent support to our overseas assignments. Our life in Italy was very good. We could shop for groceries in the military commissary and the local Italian markets also provided good food. We even had an Italian come by every day with fresh fruit and vegetables. Our villa was very comfortable and we only had the landlord living downstairs a few times a year. The driving conditions were good most of the year but during the summer months it became quite hectic.
There were also about 10 other military families in the area so social life was also very good. The fact that my wife was able to visit her family at least once a year was also very nice. Our car, a Dodge Royal Lancer, was not up to driving back and forth to Germany. I was able to sell it and buy a used Cadillac from a military officer that was retiring in Italy. I got it for a good price as he could not afford to keep it and have to pay the taxes on the car to the Italian Government. Now when we traveled the trip was very comfortable. The only problem I had with the Cadillac was one day my wife had driven it and parked on the street outside the medical clinic. An Italian driver managed to run into the back of the Cadillac and the rear pointed plastic break light cover drove itself through his fender. No damage to the Cadillac! While I was stationed in Italy I became involved with the Intelligence service. This meant that my future assignments would be with a core of a few individuals instead of the regular Navy. I remember submitted a letter to my new assignment section requesting my next duty assignment be in either Northeast or Northwest United States. My letter was returned to me with Seattle, Washington written on it. No other comments. When my orders did arrive, I was assigned to the Naval Investigative Office in Seattle, Washington. Duty in the great Northwest! That will be the subject of my next article.