Americanata: Three Sisters in Italy in 1938

Front Cover
Xlibris Corporation, Aug 30, 2001 - Biography & Autobiography - 216 pages

In 1938 I was twenty years old and living with my parents in Joplin Missouri. I was the youngest of four children with a brother and two sisters. The eldest, Harriet, had married an Italian and they were now living in Milan with their two young sons. Our parents decided to send me and my sister Blossom, 22, to Italy to spend a year with Harriet. It was the most thrilling year of my young life.

We found ourselves suddenly among the wealthy and sophisticated in Chicago, Washington D.C. and New York. We embarked on an ocean liner and cruised the Mediterranean, toured fascist Italy and saw Mussolini. We saw Europe as it slid inevitably toward war. We met people of many nationalities and religions as they fled or braced themselves for the terrible storm which approached. We enjoyed the warmth and generosity of the many friends we made. We fell in love and grew wiser.

This book was written for my Grandchildren and with the help and encouragement of my son, Mike. It has been a great joy to recapture the girl I was sixty years ago. I hope it brings as much pleasure to its readers as it has to its writers.



"A lovely, focused work with rich details and a sure narrative voice that keeps things moving. Well worth the effort. . . the charm and innocence of the sisters is appealing, particularly in these anxious times. It reads almost like a fairy tale . . . Escapist, yet grounded in a precise appreciation of the places and people she meets. Love, adventure, humor, grace, style - all amid the threat of war, reminds me of the movie Tea with Mussolini."

Robert T., New York

Reviewer: A reader from Vienna, VA USA

A trip of a lifetime, a one year sojourn into a world that would soon vanish, is the experience that Becky Landrum relates in this warm, lively memoir.

Two sisters in their early twenties travel from their home in Americas heartland--Joplin, Missouri--to pre-WWII Italy, where their elder sister lives with her husband and children. But travel in 1938 is not a matter of several hours in the air over the Atlantic. The trip itself is exciting and glamorous, first by train to New York, then by ocean liner to the Mediterranean and exotic ports before reaching Genoa. Once at their sisters home in Milan, the American "girls" (as Ms. Landrum refers to herself and her sister, Blossom) become part of the social whirl for foreigners there.

Ms. Landrums story (co-authored by her son, Mike) is about more than the cocktail parties, "dressing" for dinner, and nightclubs (though that is pretty fun stuff, to be sure). She is a lively tour guide, taking the reader along as she and Blossom climb the dome at St. Peters, eat at Alfredos and see Mussolini address the crowd from his balcony in Rome; or as they live every tourists nightmare and discover in the middle of nowhere that they are on the wrong train. She also writes about family and the strength that comes from that bond. Most appealingly, Ms. Landrum writes with candor and fondness about her young self. Her style is both direct and friendly--what you would expect from a plain-spoken Missourian.

The world as it was in 1938 is gone forever, but Ms. Landrum gives us a glimpse of it through young American eyes. Its a great view.

Yes, I know I said I wouldnt have time to read this lovely little book for weeks - but I made the mistake of reading "just the introduction" and couldnt put it down. That is the best compliment I can give any book - when it holds my attention so completely that I finish it in two days it means I loved it!

The lovely conversational style, and the frank, unassuming speech of a no-nonsense Midwesterner who has seen the world and knows there is no place like home is more than a remembrance - it is a teachi

 

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Contents

PREFACE
9
The Journey Begins
21
Chicago
26
Washington DC
30
New York City
34
The Voyage
39
First Landfall
45
Affrica
50
Water Sports
129
Milan Adventures
132
Hans Block
135
Rose
138
Venice
140
Denis
145
The Two of Us
150
Lugano
153

Gibraltar
54
Allgiers
58
Italy
61
Naples
64
Harriett
67
Togetther Again
70
Blossom
76
Sophia
81
Shopping
83
The Two Clubs
86
Italian Men
91
Harriet and Franco
94
Busy Liives
100
Jeffff
102
Rome
107
Allffredo dos
111
Mussolini
114
Florence
121
Milan Again
123
April
126
His Motther
158
Talk off War
161
Weekend at Lugano
164
Macagno
167
New Friends
171
Hot Lips Inc
174
The Boys Partty
177
Autumn
181
War Talk
183
Harrietts Birtthday
186
The Kohners
189
Turning Homeward
194
Leave Taking
197
Trieste
201
The Voyage Home
203
Return to New York
208
The Last Lap
211
After Words
214
Copyright

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About the author (2001)

Becky Landrum Except for her unusual year in Italy, Becky Landrum has lived a fairly typical life as a middle class American woman. She has had a gratifying and fulfilling life in her small Missouri town, but now that she has reached her eighties she gets a special kick in looking back to the glorious year she turned 21 – back in 1938. Mike Landrum Becky’s eldest child is an actor, writer, speaker and coach in New York.

Becky Landrum Except for her unusual year in Italy, Becky Landrum has lived a fairly typical life as a middle class American woman. She has had a gratifying and fulfilling life in her small Missouri town, but now that she has reached her eighties she gets a special kick in looking back to the glorious year she turned 21 – back in 1938. Mike Landrum Becky’s eldest child is an actor, writer, speaker and coach in New York.

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