Friday, November 7, 2008
The next move was to Sicily where the Allied forces were taking over the country. This was a prelude to invading Italy. We ended up in Catania, once Roman, once Greek, and now Italian. It was an ancient city with walls 12 feet high. When we marched into the city one of the first things I noticed was that none of the people smiled. They were almost sullen. We set up a base outside the city and overlooking part of the Mediterranean and in the shadow of Mount Etna, a volcano. We could hear the sounds of the invasion of Solarno Beach in Italy, about 40 miles away. Every morning a barefoot Sicilian boy wearing a felt hat came to our base selling wine. That was where I first started drinking wine. At irregular internals a young man drove a team of horses pulling a wagon into our base trying to sell us something. He was wearing a pistol which I hesitated to take away from him. He and the barefoot boy both had some connection to the Mafia, about which I knew nothing at that time. But it was the Mafia which had helped us drive out the Germans. It was a world which had not been covered in my U.S. history studies. It was a beautiful part of the world but had many problems, not the least was the mosquitoes which swarmed at sundown. I had once read about Hannibal, the Carthagenian general who invaded Italy from Sicily, but that had been many centuries ago. At any rate, we used Sicily to invade Southern Italy and soon we were in Foggia Valley, near Naples. I had felt that the Germans were going to overcome us, but shortly after my arrival in Italy I knew better. It was then that I became confident we were going to win the war. I will tell you more about this next Tuesday when I resume this account.