Friday, February 27, 2009

Letter 18: Pensione Pendini

[Letter 18 - page 3]

February 27, 1933

French people shake hands on the slightest provocation.
When leaving someone who they expect to see in a few minutes, when meeting the most casual acquaintance, etc
The lower classes repeat "Yes" very rapidly and numerously. Often it sounds like "We-we-we" but more often "Way-way-way"
The head waiter made a sound like a kiss to call one of the waiters
A man and a woman work together to clean up your room
Goose-quill tooth-picks are still in use
Shoe-laces often have little bone ends instead of metal
Small toy autos can be rented for children. Many are electric
Bicycles for children have small side wheels attachable so that they do not fall over
The centre light in your room works on a pulley so that you can raise or lower it.
I never saw a bootblack or shine parlor in France. Your shoes are polished by your porter, if you leave them at the door in the evening.
Even on street-cars there are "classes"; thus first class might cost 75 centimes (3 cents) and second class 60 centimes
Electric light switches work up and down -- never by pushing a button
Schools open early, perhaps eight o'clock but the children have a two-hour lunch period. They close about four.
All children swear a black smock buttoning in the back or at the side. Very sensible
Dinner is at 7:30 or 8:00 (same as in Italy); in Greece it is at nine; in Spain at ten, so that theatres begin at eleven and you take a bite at two in the morning


    There are boot-blacks in Italy, of course. They are very numerous in Naples
    In Florence the children throw confetti at people. It is sold by vendors in the street and the sidewalks are sprinkled with the evidence
    The larger houses have tremendous wooden doors perhaps fifteen feet high, of fine, thick wood
    Nearly all stairs and rooms have stone or marble; every room we have had has had a decorated tile or marble floor. Rugs are used
    Italians (and French also) are very polite. In a shop you are thanked for a two-cent purchase and very pleasantly bid the time of day
    Cheese is used all the time; on the soup, on the spaghetti and then as a course after the meat course
    It is not considered bad manners to talk from table to table or even across several tables
    Priests and students for the priesthood are seen everywhere; the latter walk in two's six to thirty in a group
    Officers in uniform are everywhere. There are a great many different kinds of uniforms
    One hears plenty of church bells in the morning
    All notices, even though they are inside of your own place of business must bear a tax stamp, from 1/2 c up; same applies to cards in store windows. Same in France. All receipted bills have to have a stamp
    In N.Y. City you pay 2 c for a "Times" and 60 c for a haircut. Here you pay 20 c for each. You get a fresh haircut, but the "Times" is two weeks old. "Saturday Evening Post" is 40 c
    All elevators I have seen in France and Italy have been "Stigler". They go down when a button is pressed, but an operator must bring them up to your floor. So they are automatic, but must have an attendant

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