Summer 1970 – A Great Story!

By Richard Perry

The first group (1970) arrived finding the lodgings in Rome had gone awry, Thanks to John Kehoe’s efforts we ended up in a tourist camp on the edge of EUR, rather than some nearby city. Of all things the Camp was called California Gardens, apparently the owner had once lived in California. We stayed in several cabins, a central hall in each with three rooms (multiple beds) on each side-one bathroom at the end of the hall. Half of the cabins in the camp were filled with ‘Invalides di guerra e del lavoro pubblico’ who no doubt in large part were responsible for the the street walkers that plied their trade on either side of the camp entrance for the whole week we were there.

We had a mile walk down to the subway to Rome, our dinners were served under a canopy of vines, the camp was very pleasant; the camp’s semi-permanent injured residents were being skilled in new trades. Our daily trips into Rome took up most of our time; a few guided tours and some free time to roam around. There were other trips to Ostia, Herculaneum and Pompeii. I remember one guard, for a few dollars, offering to give me a private tour of the covered frescoes that he had opened for Elizabeth Taylor. Unfortunately the walk around Pompeii was a pain for me, as the night before, in the LUNEUR just down the hill from the California Gardens, I had had a bolt smashed into my knee on a ride at the old amusement park. Lucky thing they had plenty of crutches at the ‘Gardens’.

The program was a great experience, I would recommend for anyone. Had it not been for Mr. Dodd’s awarding me a graduate assistantship to cover my costs and his very wise counsel in advising me that the NAACP march, I was about to take part in, had never applied for a permit (they told us they had) and that if I were arrested, I could not leave for the trip, until a fall trial. I had just enough time to leave his office and get to the front line of the march to tell everyone they had been lied two, were going to be arrested (they were also maced), but I was only able to convince Barbara (another member of that first trip) to leave the march as it started. She also owes her memories to Mr. Dodd, who was a very wise man. I still have his drawing, from our trade. Perhaps, his daughter is still alive and someone can tell me how to reach her.

Richard shared this with the Cortona Community on the Cortona Program Facebook Page and we are so glad to share it here. Thanks Richard!

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