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Serving Uncle Sam: A Military Life in WWll

Gerald Schwartz USAAC (USAAF) 1940 - 1945


Chapter 96: Valentine Club. I'm Leaving For Naples. Then I Head for Rome. Driving Through Cassino Devastation. My Favourite Pension in Rome. Alexander Club. Yolanda

Dec 9, 1944 Capri, Italy. Awoke this morning to a cold and dreary day with a gale wind blowing. I gave some laundry to be washed and played ping pong for two hours. I just hung around the hotel, getting bored and thinking seriously of returning to Naples in a day or so. Jack and I went to the Valentine Club in the afternoon. I met a girl there who spoke German so I chatted with her for a while.

We then went to Constanza’s sister’s place for steaks but she was afraid she would be caught serving us freebies so we brought them to our hotel and had them cooked there. We had coffee and doughnuts at the Bombay Club several times. Later I met Teresa and we spent some time fooling around in the plaza. Around 9:00 PM I got disgusted and with the wind howling and a heavy rain falling, I returned to the hotel to go to bed. It has been raining every day for the past week.

Dec 11, 1944 Capri. Yesterday was quite uneventful. I spent the day playing ping pong. Jack and I went up the hill to Anacapri for a steak and French fried potatoes at Constanza’s sister’s restaurant. I left word to be awakened at 7: AM so I can leave for Naples in the morning. Today I got up at 8:00 AM and caught the ferry for Naples. The trip took about 3 hours and the water was a bit rough.

I ate lunch at the 12th Air force mess. Then I met Todd who got me a room at their hotel. He told me that it is prohibited to live in a hotel or house other than the one run by the air force. I walked around for hours until I got tired and then went to a movie. Naples has not changed much since I was here a year ago. It is still as dirty as ever, with people following you around trying to fix you up with either a woman or a meal. I decided to go to Rome tomorrow and spend the rest of my leave there.

Dec 12, 1944 .Naples. At 9:00 AM this morning I went to the airport seeking a plane ride home. Unfortunately there were no flights due to bad weather, so I was forced to hit the road and hitch hike. I first caught a ride with a 2nd Lieutenant and two enlisted men in his crew, who were going my way. Next I caught a ride in the rain with an Indian soldier in the British 8th Army. We stopped for lunch outside of Cassino.

I next caught a ride with a British Infantry Colonel for the rest of the trip to Rome. Passing through Cassino we were impressed by its total devastation. There was not a wall left standing. There are still mines still alongside the roads. They are surrounded by tapes, with the usual skull and crossbones pictures nailed to posts.

We finally arrived at Rome around 4:30 PM, and I checked into the pension (boarding house) that I had previously used in my trips to Rome. The owner and folks there were genuinely glad to see me again after a whole year’s absence. I still have 6 days remaining on my leave and I hope it will make up for the dreary time I spent on Capri.

The reason I keep coming here is that I don’t even have to leave the boarding house. The nice old lady who runs it sends up to my room anything I want, literally. She provides me with meals and female company, and anything else I need. In this manner I met a woman called Lillian and I took her to the Opera to see La Traviata. Afterwards back at the pension we danced for a while and romanced a little. I also met Yolanda, with whom I had spent considerable time last year during my several visits to Rome.

The manager of the pension took my remaining cartons of cigarettes off my hands for $9.00 each, which provided me with enough capital to last several days. I gave her some laundry to have washed. By the time I got to bed I was quite content with how I spent the afternoon and evening at this pension.

Dec 13, 1944. Rome. After an 8: AM breakfast of six fried eggs, tea and French fried potatoes I walked around for a while rubber-necking. I met a British infantryman and we spent some time together chatting about our experiences. Later I went to the Jewish Club and met a Jewish soldier from Palestine.

I spent the day there helping him fix up the dance hall for a dance tonight. We had dinner at the club and went to a movie. We then had tea and cookies at the Alexander Club. By this time the dance had begun so we went there and soon met a couple of French girls. We had an enjoyable time dancing and chatting with them for a few hours. Before leaving, we agreed to go to the Pantheon at 10:00 AM tomorrow.

I passed the rest of the evening at the pension, chatting with the folks there, and spent a little time with Yolanda before retiring. All in all a satisfactory day, I thought!

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