Tag Archives: Italy

Marcia Did Not Teach Burlesque in Italy

Cristoforo Colombo took Marcia, Steve, and Dawn to Italy, 1970.

Cristoforo Colombo took Marcia, Steve, and Dawn to Italy, 1970.

We did go to Italy.

I didn’t learn Italian ahead of time.

In fact we went separately. Steve flew there. He flew ahead to find a place for us to live and some work for me to do because I was going to be “putting hubby through,” so to speak. I had a trunk full of our household goods and at that time it was cheaper to go across on an ocean liner and take your trunk than it was to fly. So he flew and I came later.

I learned a little Italian on the ship. I was on the Italian lines. I met up with him in Italy there and then I took some Italian lessons when I was there. Basically we learned Italian from just living in the culture.

I remember. . . .

[Heidi]: The ship came into Venice.

No.

[Steve]: No, that was the second ship.

No, that was the second time we went back. The first time it came into . . . um.

[Steve]: No, uh, the other side of the peninsula.

[Heidi]: Florence?

[Steve]: Florence, no, um.

[Heidi]: I mean, um, Genoa.

[Steve]: Genoa.

Genoa! We came into Genoa.

[Heidi]: And then you trained across.

[Steve]: Yeah.

[Heidi]: To Padova.

Yeah. We did a lot of train travel in Padova.

[Eric]: While he was in medical school, you were working?

So then he found me a job in a Berlitz school, teaching English. So I taught English in a Berlitz school.

[Bruce]: Burlesque?

[Steve]: Burlesque?

Burlesque?

[laughter]

[Heidi]: Mom did burlesque to bring in the money.

And I learned a lot of, you know, I learned a lot of Italian teaching English, just because of the way the Italians would speak English. It helped me to learn how things were said.

[Heidi]: Twenty-six years later, I moved to Italy and lived in Venice and taught English in a Berlitz school and learned some of my Italian.

[Virginia]: Are you serious? Oh, Heidi, that’s awesome.

So after three years in Italy, he took an externship at Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital in Brighton. Came back for a period of six months. I came ahead. I was six months pregnant with Dawn. I came ahead and Dawn was born in the States at that hospital, Saint Elizabeth’s. He was not—were you here for the birth? You were back by the birth time. OK.

Then we went back to Italy and the second time we went back together in a ship. That’s when we went to Venice. On our way there, we stopped in various ports. So we were in Malaga, Spain. We stopped and visited Pompeii and we were in Naples and visited Pompeii.

[Steve]: We stopped in Sicily.

We did. We stopped in Sicily. And then we went up the Adriatic and stopped in Greece.

[Steve]: In Greece. We went to Greece.

We stopped at Piraeus. And then we took a day trip to Athens. And then we went over to Venice.

That gave us a chance to see a lot of places in Europe and when Dawn was baby, we traveled—when we had vacation times, we had a little VW Bug and traveled to various places, to visit places in Italy.

[Heidi]: You went to see Aunt Betty and Uncle Harley.

And we went to Austria also because we had met a couple on a ship—he was Austrian and she was American. They invited us to go to Austria to visit them at Christmastime, so we did a few things like that.

[Kimberly?]: Aunt Betty and Uncle Harley.

[Steve]: That was up in Switzerland. We had gone also, among other things, we saw where The Sound of Music was designed in Salzburg.

[Victoria]: Yeah. In Austria.

They lived in Salzburg, so they took us around to all the sites in Salzburg.

We traveled to Switzerland several times and met up with Aunt Betty and Uncle Harley there and Sandy and Debby. They would get apartments for missionaries in various places in Switzerland where we would have vacation time. So we would drive through the fog out of Italy, because it was usually very foggy at Christmastime.

Then I can remember one time when we were driving up in the mountains in Switzerland. Steve was not feeling good. Did you ask me to drive? And I was like. . . .

[Dawn]: Dad was in the back seat.

Dad, he would look out the window and see that it was a drop-off like this and he just closed his eyes and hoped we didn’t drop off.

Anyway, so we had a lot of good memories from those years. We were there for six years. Came home in 1974.

story told by Marcia (Steve’s wife) to the family reunion gathering on January 10, 2014 with additions from Steve and Heidi (Steve’s daughter) and interjections from Virginia Gorman, Bruce Kindberg, and Eric Kindberg (Lee’s children), Dawn Harrell and Kimberly Duncan (Steve’s daughters), and Victoria (TJ Ramey, Kathryn’s son’s wife), transcribed by Dawn Duncan Harrell (Steve’s daughter)

Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below. (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.)

  • Any other Smith and Steve Duncan family stories from those Christmastimes spent together that you’d like to tell?
  • Would someone please tell the flaming fondue table story?
  • Can someone relay the peanut butter story? Didn’t Harley and Betty come to Italy for that story? What was the context?
  • How about going to France to help build the camp one summer story?
  • Sandy? Debby? What do you remember of those intersecting times?
  • Why would Betty have stayed behind in France at Steve’s graduation? Children? Other duties? Finances?
  • Any other stories from the ocean liners? How about the diapers-in-the-hold story from the second crossing?

The Royal We: Peru to Sandwich

[Eric]: So, wait. You were in Peru before you went to Italy?

[Steve]: Yup.

[Eric]: You went down to help my dad.

[Steve]: No, I went to help Dr. Eikenberger in the clinic as a lab technician.

[Eric]: And you went out to the tribe with Bob Tripp?

[Steve]: I went out to the tribe with Bob Tripp, whom you may meet. I don’t know if he’s still about?

[Kathy?]: His wife. . . .

[Steve]: And she was in Peru, too, but that was long before they were married.

[Kathy?]: Right.

[Steve]: Anyway, so yes, we came back from Peru, got married, went to Italy, had two childrens in that episode, the bambinos, bambinas.

Steve and Marcia's Four Girls, maybe 1980

Steve and Marcia’s Four Girls, maybe 1980

[Marcia]: Let me just say that Uncle Wally said, when we got married, “We have a lot of boys in the family, so why don’t you have some girls. So we did our best to live up to his request.”

[Steve]: And that’s all we have [4 girls] and grandchild, too.

[Heidi]: Grand-girl.

[Steve]: Grand-girl. Grand-girl.

So when we came back to the States, I had taken the ECFMG [Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates], which is an exam for internationals who want to get into medicine or do medical practice here in the United States. While I was doing an externship, I found out that I was accepted in that. Oh, that was part of the exam that I took during the years that I came back when Dawn was born [1970]. Yes.

But anyway, came back. We did an internship at the Waltham Hospital. And then we went into residency for surgery at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Brighton, or part of Boston, Massachusetts. From there, we went to work with the American Indians, the Sioux Indians out in South Dakota.

[Virginia?]: That’s right. You guys gave us a quilt when we got married that was made there or in that area.

Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux 8 Point Star Quilt

Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux 8 Point Star Quilt

[Steve]: Yes. They’re very proud of that work that they do in the quilting. That particular quilt comes from specifically that area, the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Indians. So we spent five years there.

At the same time, the same evening, we felt the Lord was speaking to both of us, but separately, that it was time that we do what we had originally thought we were going to be doing, that is getting up and going to a third world situation. The good probability was going to be Angola.

So we applied to a mission. We were refused because somehow they thought we were very charismatic. We had attended an Assembly of God church—never became members—but that was very evangelical and we really learned to love the Lord even more there. Because the mission was so connected to fundamental theology or at least thoughts, they refused us. Later, it was overturned because they realized that we weren’t going to be setting up a Holy Spirit program.

When we applied, we went out to Angola to do the medicine that we felt God had called us to do and use that as a vehicle for sharing the gospel. So we were out there. We were 17 years in Angola. The national language, or the trade language, was Portuguese. It was one of the colonies of Portugal. All the time that we were there, except for one year, we were in the middle of war. A lot of my surgery had to do with wartime injuries, earlier especially.

Pardon?

[T. J.]: I remember mom talking.

[Steve]: Yeah.

[T. J.]: She was always worried about that, about you guys.

[Steve]: Well, uh, in retrospect, we had a place out in an area called Menongue, which was guarded by Cuban troops and I had four girls out there. I wasn’t worried enough. In retrospect, I should have been.

Anyway, we stayed there for 17 years in Angola and then came home and set up shop on Cape Cod in a house that we had arranged for ten years earlier. Nine years earlier? Nine years earlier [1989] on Cape Cod. It was a buyers’ market because there were so many houses on the market to be sold. We were able to get a good deal on this house that is in a place called Sandwich.

We’ve been working there. I’ve been working as a first assistant, they call it, in surgery. In other words, I am not the surgeon in charge, but I am the second pair of hands on many different kinds of surgery.

[Virginia?]: Are you liking that variety?

[Steve]: Yes. Yup. I’m keeping my hands in it long after many other surgeons just close up shop and go home.

[T. J.]: You’re doing that now?

[Steve]: Now. Yes.

The joy, as I put in that record to Brett, the joy that I’ve seen in most recent times, is the joy of discipling, of introducing the love of Christ to one person or more. We have a Bible study at the hospital. But to be spending time with a person to see them either first accept the Lord as their savior or to grow in the Lord—grow at the beginning or grow during the time. And I liken it to one of the deliveries that we do. I’m often involved in a caesarian section and it’s a joy to see a baby born, whether it’s the usual way or the unusual way of caesarian, but to see a baby born, this is to see in a life to be growing. It’s sort of exciting. There’s a great joy in discipling people, to see them grow.

So that sort of fills out where we’ve been, where I’ve been. Perhaps it’s time for Marcia to fill in the real story, the other side of the story, and tell the honest truth.

story told by Steve to the family reunion gathering on January 10, 2014 with questions from Eric Kindberg (Lee’s son), Kathy Courtright (Lee’s daughter), Virginia Gorman (Lee’s daughter), and T. J. Ramey (Kathryn’s son); recorded and transcribed by Dawn Duncan Harrell (Steve’s daughter)

Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below. (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.)

  • Can you fill in the details about Eikenberger? Have I spelled his name correctly? What is his first name? What sort of lab work did you do, Dad/Steve?
  • What was Bob Tripp’s wife’s name?
  • Can you tell in more detail the story of the dual call to Angola on the same night?
  • And what were you doing in 1989, while Marcia and Steve were buying a house on Cape Cod?

Put on a Little Accent, Ace Medical School

Steve and Marcia, Venice, ca. 1967 to 1969

Steve and Marcia, Venice, ca. 1967 to 1969

[Steve]: When I got out of the military, I finished up my degree at Boston University. Then I started to do some graduate work in psychology, also at Boston University. I then met Marcia on that blind date. You remember that story? Perhaps.

[Eric]: No, I don’t.

[Steve]: Well, Marcia.

[Marcia]: You want me to tell that story?

[Steve]: You want Marcia to tell that story? It’ll be her turn to tell the story.

[Multiple Voices]: Yeah! Tell it. Tell it.

[Steve]: She’ll probably tell the truth. Yup.

We dated for four months. I asked her . . . to marry her and then I went off to Peru. To escape.

[Virginia]: To get away from that.

[Eric]: You got cold feet.

[Steve]: I got cold feet, yeah. [Laughter.] In fact she got a little bit of cold feet while I was away in Peru.

[Heidi]: And we just found out Aunt Polly—the whole time—was like, “That was the worst mistake! He shouldn’t have done it!” And was praying fervently during the whole time he was in Peru.

[Virginia]: Is that right?!

[Stephanie?]: Praying about what?

[Heidi]: Aunt Polly was like, “Oh, yeah, when he left for Peru, I just thought ‘What is he doing?’ so I prayed and I prayed and I prayed because they should get married.” That’s what Aunt Polly said.

[Virginia?]: Oh, oh, oh, I thought she was praying against them.

[Heidi]: No. No. No. Because she just thought. . . .

[Virginia?]: I thought, “What’s she have against you that . . . ?”

[Marcia]: Bob and Aunt Polly always said they were Mr. and Mrs. Cupid because they got us together and so she was probably worried that it was going to fall apart.

[Virginia?]: They set up this blind date?

[Heidi]: Yes.

[Marcia]: Yes.

[Steve]: Oh, yeah.

[Marcia]: I’ll tell you the story when you pass it to me.

[Steve]: When it’s her turn.

So then when we did get married in December of 1966, we were married for—I don’t know—six months or seven months. And then I had applied for medical school here, but at the time there were 15, 14 applications to get into medical school for every person that got in. So it was very difficult to get into medical school. I went to try to get into Italy, of all places, a historically medical area and got in. So we went to Italy, Marcia and I. It was there that Dawn—no, Dawn was born back in the States and we came home.

[Mary Lynn]: How’d you learn enough Italian to do that?

[Steve, puts on Italian accent]: It’s a-just-a talkin’ about what-a you talkin’ about in English, but then you put on a little accent and you all set.

[Victoria]: He looks like Italian. He really looks like Italian.

[T. J.]: I’ve always been impressed that he was able to pull that off.

[Mary Lynn]: Can you both speak Italian?

[Stephanie]: Only when he’s trying to speak Portuguese.

[Steve]: Only when I’m trying to speak Portuguese, that’s right. We had to learn Portuguese, so it became very difficult to maintain the Italian. In fact, the Italian did come out when I was speaking in a group.

[Mary Lynn]: Did you go to language school before you went to medical school?

[Steve]: I learned a little bit of Italian before we left, before I left, and when I got there, before I started medical school—just a couple of months, I learned some more Italian.

[Mary Lynn?]: So you went to Italy with Dawn?

[Marcia]: No. Dawn wasn’t born. We had only been married for a few months when we went.

[Steve]: So it was three years [before Dawn was born].

[Marcia]: We were married December ’66 and went to Italy for September of the following year.

[Steve]: So we stayed in Italy and it was more than four years. It was six years total with internship there. Pardon?

[Heidi]: So they were there and then came back to the States to have Dawn and then went back to Angola. I mean Italy.

[T. J.]: All the classes were taught in Italian, right?

[Steve]: Italian. Actually, there was one of the first classes, the guy wanted to show how much he knew of English and he spoke to some of us in English, but the rest—no, it was the exam. He called the exam—I would give the exam, or take the exam in front of four or six professors and a class full of students behind me and, but one of the first ones was in English. He was trying to show off how much he knew of English, so that was a help.

[Virginia?]: Were there other students, then, that were American?

[Steve]: American, yeah. There were about 20.

[Marcia]: 30.

[Steve]: 20 or 30?

[Marcia]: Maybe 20. With the spouses there were 30.

[Steve]: In that area. And there were many in Italy, in Bologna, a place in central Italy. So Dawn was born back in the States—we went back—and Heidi was born in Italy. She says she was born in a boot, like ‘course the shape of Italy is a book, so that’s her little poem.

[Marcia]: I just wanted to add about the language. You were asking about the language. In addition to him taking those 6 weeks of language study before he left, he always said that the advantages were that they used American and British texts for medical school. So he just bought his texts in English. They had to buy them, the Italians bought the translated copies. Then everything is Latin-based. You know, the medical language is Latin-based, so that made it easier also. He used the medical terms that were Latin. And then the exams were all oral. There wasn’t that much written material, so and it’s easier to speak than to write it out if you’re living in the culture. As he said, there were several, you know, professors that wanted you to know that they could speak English; then they would let you do your exam in English. There were a few, you know, that were saying, “This is Italy, so you do it in Italian.” There were some advantages that we had that way.

story told by Steve, Marcia [Steve’s wife], and Heidi [Steve’s daughter] to the family reunion gathering on January 10, 2014; recorded and transcribed by Dawn [Steve’s daughter]

Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below. (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.)

  • Somebody tell the story of the letters going back and forth to Peru? Dad sending Grammy MacGregor a blank letter and all the missionaries tuning in to listen to Lee read Marcia’s letters to Dad, when he was out in the jungle.
  • Dad/Steve or Mum/Marcia, do you want to tell more stories from Italy? The hungry times when a bag of groceries were left? Sleeping under your coats? Teaching English? Balancing grocery bags on the bicycle? Going to the symphony for cheap and the audience yelling ‘piu’? Shopping at the PX? Traveling to the Swiss Alps? Harley and Betty and the peanut butter? Dawn’s diapers in the trunk at the border crossing? Going to your exam after Heidi was born?
  • Any other Italy, speaking Italian stories?
  • Anybody else have language learning difficulty or goof-up stories to share?

The Legend of Steve

Steve Kilted, n. d., courtesy of Colin Duncan

Steve Kilted, n. d., courtesy of Colin Duncan

I’ve always been proud and I’ve told friends of mine, particularly guys in the Lodge, because—a lot of you don’t know I’m a Mason and I’m an instructor in Masonic work. Every once in a while, I get a new guy who comes in and I instruct him in his work. And sometime they start bellyaching about how hard it is, how long it takes for them to memorize stuff and all that.

I say “Let me tell you a story about a relative of mine, who tried to get in medical school in the States and he had too many Bs on his grade card.” This is the story I heard. Anyway, “but he was accepted by a medical school in Italy. The only trouble is he didn’t speak Italian. So he went over there and learned enough Italian, had a tutor to help him, and went through four years of med school. He graduated, got his license, came back to the States and took his boards, and got a license here, and became a medical missionary in Africa.” And I said, “If he could do all that, surely you can learn this work.”

[Laughter]

[Kathy]: There you go! The story of Uncle Steve.

story told by T. J. Ramey [Kathryn’s son] to the family reunion gathering on January 10, 2014; recorded and transcribed by Dawn [Steve’s daughter]

Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below. (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.)

  • Dad, you tell us the story now. Let’s hear it in your words.
  • Anyone else have a family story that got a little lofty or mangled in the re-telling? Tell us the story. How did you discover the “legend”? How was it different from your experience or your hearing of the story?