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Lucy Paone

Our First Trip To Italy September 1962

We arrived in Mannheim, Germany June 1962 for Joe’s three-year assignment at Coleman Barracks. We were able to get a 1-bedroom apartment in Sandhofen, a small town just outside of Mannheim.

As I was 6 weeks pregnant with our first daughter Anne, we decided to make a short trip to Italy as this would be the best time before our baby arrived on or about the 4th of May.
We had a 1961 black 4 door Ford Falcon. We proceeded to leave our apartment on our trip, with us knowing that we had to go through the Brenner Pass over the Swiss mountains to get to Italy.

As we continued to drive up the mountain road, we saw that there was quite a bit of snow on the ground and on the sides of the mountain. There were many goats on the mountain side too. As we were trying to approach the crest of the mountain, we found that our Ford Falcon could not make it to the top to descend on the other side. We noticed that the buses had no problems reaching the mountain crest nor did the VW Beetles as they had more traction in the snow with their engines in the rear. In the end we had to turn around and go back to find another way for us to get to Italy. As we got to the bottom of the road it was then that we both noticed a sign that showed a tire with chains around it. We looked at each other in disbelief and wondered how we could have missed that sign.

If my memory serves me right, I think we were then able to get on a train with our vehicle and got to Italy that way. I vaguely remember being in the car as we were going through the tunnels.

It was a nice visit to Italy and we did get to Rome to visit some of Joe’s relatives and the Vatican. Joe’s parents advised the relatives that we would be visiting Italy and we were provided with their addresses. We saw some very beautiful apartments high up on the hills and stayed two nights in Rome with one of the relatives.

After our visit, and going through the town of Casoria, near Naples where Joe’s father was born and raised, we proceeded on our journey home without going over the alps. We stopped to fill our vehicle up with gas or petro, as they refer to it. As I was at the wheel, after the tank was filled, Joe told me to proceed to another part of the gas station so he could check the oil level. I stepped on the gas pedal but the car did not move. He told me again to step on the gas pedal and I told him I was stepping on it but the car was not moving. At this point Joe pushed the vehicle to another part of the station and checked the transmission fluid. There was no fluid left in the transmission nor did the gas station have any fluid to sell us. As a result, Joe purchased quite a few liters of engine oil and proceeded to put the engine oil in the transmission. We made it back to Germany and praised God that we did.

Having gone through this extra expense of engine oil purchase to get us home, the result was that we had only a few dollars left in our pockets and one or two cans of peas in the cupboard. Joe proceeded to go to the mess hall and got us a supply of canned foods, along with some other staples to last until his next paycheck of $222.40. The transmission got fixed, flushed and filled with proper oil because we drove that vehicle on several other trips during our 3 year tour in Germany, with our Anne in the car seat and a bed type seat as well. Our tour in Germany ended June 1965. And the Paone's returned to CONUS being stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia, where our second daughter Maria was born at Martin Army Hospital on the 17th of October 1965.

At this point I want to say that I would do it all over again. It was a good life and yes it had it’s moments but all in all it was a great experience for a gal who never left Brooklyn except to go up to the Catskill Mountains in the summertime with her mother, father and other family members.












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