Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Entertaining Father Quentin in Naples

Marvelous Father Quentin


            We were living in Naples, Italy when a good friend suggested we should meet Father Quentin. It was 1976.
            Father Quentin was a Dominican priest living in Rome.  He was from New England, and was fluent in Russian, so Al Koster, our friend, thought we’d like to meet him, so Marty could offer him New England hospitality and I could practice talking Russian with him.  We invited him to come down for a weekend.
            Father Quentin took the train from Rome to Naples, and we met him at the big Stazione Centrale in Piazza Garibaldi.  Quentin was a roly-poly little fellow, about as wide as he was tall, and wore a brown monk’s robe with a big, wide belt with a large cross on the buckle.  And sandals.
A porter was holding a large suitcase and another couple of bags for him.
            We had heard that Quentin was quite the linguist, so we were surprised when he seemed to be having a lot of trouble with the porter.  It came time for him to hand the man a tip, and Quentin seemed not to have any money for a tip, so I gave the porter a tip.
            At that moment, I began to see a pattern developing. 

Naples Harbor with Vesuvio in distance
            We bundled the good Father into our Fiat station wagon and were off to Posillippo, our home. 
            Father Quentin told us that he lived in a cubicle in a very monastic existence in RomeRome, by the way, is fairly crawling with priests.
            We had plans to take Father Q. out to dinner that night, with our friends, Aggie and Al Koster.  When we had arrived in Italy a year prior, we had gone through a laborious search for living quarters with the Kosters, sharing many meals at low-cost restaurants during several weeks.  Al, a fellow submariner, was the intelligence officer for the Navy staff that handled all the U.S. Navy’s submarines in the Mediterranean, and I was the operations officer in charge of tasking all the patrol and electronic surveillance aircraft that searched for Soviet submarines in the Mediterranean.
            After Quentin was shown to the guest bedroom, he revealed that he had brought a large bag of laundry from the nuns that occupy his religious dwelling in Rome.  He asked if he could use our washing machine to launder them.  That was when he told us about how much he loved large, “thirsty” towels after his bath, because at the monastery, he used only a very flimsy cloth to towel off with. And his bath was in cold water.
            Before we left for the restaurant, we thought we’d have a cocktail, and that was when Father Quentin ordered a Beefeater’s Martini.  
            If you are in a bar it is OK to order a particular brand of liquor, but I think it is a bit presumptuous to call for “Beefeater’s” when your host might be so humble as to have only Gordon’s on hand.  He had to settle for what we had.
            We met the Kosters at the restaurant, and ordered vino di tavola, or table wine, and the waiter gave us our menus. 
A little light meal, Italian style

            Italian dining can be a marvelous experience, with a meal that begins with aperitivi, then antipasti consisting of olives, other pickled vegetables, bruschette (toast with oil and tomatoes). and sausages and cold meats.  Then there’s the pasta course, and next the secondo, or second course, which is a meat or fish.   After that you have a dolce (pastry) plus fruit.  Then comes the coffee, and cheese, and perhaps a glass of cognac or grappa, a powerful, clear liquid.  Finally, for Italians there is the digestivo, like Fernet Branca or Jägermeister.  This is a peculiar drink which seems to act like a giant plunger to take all that food you have consumed and push it down into your belly with force.
            Americans at dinner would tend to order only two or three courses, but if Italians were having a real dinner, it might consist of several pasta courses, and then perhaps a vitello (veal) parmigiana or saltimbocca, followed by a nice pesce, or fish.  And the waiter, in true Neapolitan style, would query you on your health and perceived illnesses, and then prescribe the vegetables you might like to eat.
            Father Quentin didn’t speak much Italian, except when it came to the menu, and then this round little holy man showed his prowess.  He ordered every course, in beautiful Italian.
            “Vorrei un poco di spaghettini, è un pezzo di lasagne, e --- ooo, un piccolo pezzo di carne di vitello, per piacére,”
            He ordered the spaghetti, and then a little lasagna, and rice and veal and on and on.  Al and I were sharing the cost of the meal, and we could see this was going to be a zinger. 
            The next day, Al and I were at work, so Marty and Aggie drove Quentin down to the Amalfi coast, and of course at lunch time they stopped for what they thought would be a light lunch. 
            Quentin, however, had other ideas, and began to order the menu again.  In those days, you paid for meals with lire, not credit cards, and Al and I had left a few thousand lire with the girls to entertain Quentin.  Marty announced to Quentin that he would have to restrict his luncheon a bit. 
            Quentin pouted, but complied, and everyone had a nice, light luncheon.
            Marty washed and dried all the robes and clothing for the nuns, and then gave it to Father Quentin and showed him the iron and ironing board. Then she went out to shop for a cocktail buffet we were having for my boss, Captain Al Higginbotham, who was leaving Italy.  Quentin addressed the ironing board.
            Marty returned two hours later, and Quentin, in his brown robe, was spread across the floor in our dining room, next to the ironing board.  She thought he had collapsed.
            No, the good Father said that the ironing had completely worn him out, and he was collecting enough energy to continue.
            Marty roasted a turkey for the buffet.  Quentin volunteered to carve the turkey for the buffet, and he did, with spectacular artfulness, garnishing the bird elegantly. 
            That night the Commander of the Sixth Fleet, Vice Admiral Harry Train, came to our buffet along with the other guests, and was pleased to meet Father Quentin. We all bid farewell to my boss, and the guests left.
            As soon as the guests were gone, Father Quentin descended upon the turkey and finished it single-handedly.
            Soon it was time for us to say goodbye to Quentin, but he was enjoying the food and relaxation so much he wanted to stay.  We gathered him and all his possessions up, along with all the ironing for the nuns, and drove him forthwith to the train station, and put him on the train for Rome with a hearty farewell.
            The next time he came to Naples we let him stay with our friends, the Kosters.
Here are some books and papers that The Personal Navigator would like to offer you:

Osage Indians
from painting by Charles Banks Wilson

Farmers' Cabinet, Amherst, (N.H.) Saturday, August 3, 1822 No. 46 Vol. 20.      1822 Amherst, NH: Richard Boylston, Publisher  4 pp. 31 x 51 cm.     This paper is still published in 2012 as the Milford Cabinet, Milford being adjacent to Amherst. Report on Missionary Work with the Osage Indians who have exceedingly unpleasant habits. Their mode of cooking is polluted, neatness, cleanliness and chastity are unknown among them, and they like to fight.  "Mr. Adams and Mr. Russell" is an abbreviated account from The National Intelligencer about a conflict going back to the negotiations for the Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812.  Jonathan Russell and John Quincy Adams were ministers sent by President Monroe and this kerfluffle involved Russell and a letter he wrote, then lost, then he provided a different version, which he called a "copy" or a "duplicate"... all of this arose in 1822 in advance of the forthcoming campaign of Mr. Adams for president. Latest from Europe:  It is now certain that there will be no war between Turkey and Russia. The Turks have complied with the demand of Emperor Alexander for the evacuation f Moldavia and Wallachia. Greeks in two villages sacked by Turks have immolated Greek wives and children to prevent them from being violated. Greeks have burnt two Turkish ships of the line, two frigates, a corvette.  Spanish Aggression:  U.S. Schooner Porpoise, commanded by Lieutenant James Ramage arrived at St. Thomas after having been fired upon by two Spanish privateers, who shot away one of her shrouds, and passed several balls through her. [Ramage had already made a name for himself by destroying a pirate base with six vessels near Bahia Honda, Cuba.] [Is James Ramage an ancestor of WWII Submariner Lawson Ramage??]  Ads for Stray Mare belonging to Ephraim French of Amherst; Samuel Gill, indentured boy--Notice to all persons  harboring him or trusting him on account of Caleb Turner of Milford. David Russell has a fine assortment of Kid & Morocco Shoes at his shop near the Meeting House in Amherst. Newspaper, edges frayed, vertical fold nearly separated, poor. (8225) $40.00. Newspapers/History

Henry Clay, 1818
By Mathew Harris Jouett

New-Hampshire Patriot, Concord, (New-Hampshire), Tuesday, April 9, 1816; Printed by Isaac Hill, Publisher of the Laws of the United States     1816        Concord, NH: Isaac Hill.  4 pp. 35 x 53 cm. Speech of the Hon. Mr. (Henry) Clay in the House of Representatives on the Subject of the Direct Tax. Clay notes debt accumulated by the recent war (War of 1812) as well as the Revolutionary War and the wars with Tripoli and Algiers. He mentions that he was "in the vicinity" of the Battle of Waterloo. [He was in London, and saw the illuminations and celebration after Wellington defeated Napoleon.] Clay ranges wide, discussing the Treaty of Ghent, fishing rights off Newfoundland. One of the great causes of the war, he says, was impressment of American sailors, and now that is stopped. "What have we gained by the war?" he asked, then answered, "..before the war... we were the scorn of the universe... contempt of ourselves......" We have gained "respectabilty and character abroad---security and confidence at home....our character and constitution are placed on a solid basis never to be shaken."  Article fills whole front page and one column of page 2, and is continued. Dartmouth Colege:  "The insidious hand of one of the intolerant Trustees is discovered.."  Discussion of scandal and abuse towards Dartmouth President Wheelock....Accusations of hypocrisy and malignity..... Thompson and others have been effectively "put down" by their own "wicked attempt 'to put down' a certain man!"  Remarkable letter to the Printer by Mary Pitcher, dated April 1, 1816 takes up about one column to reel out literary allusions and flowing discourse, alluding to witchery--- appears to be April Fool's tomfoolery. Notice of those people in New Hampshire who have not paid their Direct Tax in conformity with the Act of Congress, 1813.        Newspaper, edges worn and frayed, rag content of paper has preserved it well.  Fair. (8226) $44.00. Newspapers/History          

Biographical History of Massachusetts; Biographies and Autobiographies of the Leading Men of the State, Volume X  Eliot, Samuel Atkins, A.M., D.D., editor-in-chief 1918 Boston, MA: Massachusetts Biographical Society. Frontispiece steel engraving of William E. Huntington; Article on Co-Education in Massachusetts, by Huntington. This is a collection of about 132 steel engravings of notable Massachusetts men, with 2-4 page biographies.  Includes: William Hadwen Ames (1861-1918) developer of Forest Hills crematory, president of several pneumatic tube companies; Milton Bradley (1836-1911) founder of the Milton Bradley company, developer of games, kindergarten equipment and school supplies; Sidney Wilmot Winslow (1854-1917) founder of the United Shoe Machinery Company; Bishop Joseph Gaudentius Anderson (1865- ); Francis William Bird (1809-1894), "Sage of Walpole" and founder of the Neponset Paper Co., heavily involved in the Free Soil party, then the Democratic party after the Civil War. Also Francis William Bird, 2nd (1881-1918) intimate and trusted friend of Colonel Roosevelt. Also, John Quincy Adams Brackett (1842-1918) governor of Massachusetts. Also Henry Hilary Chmielinski, Andrea Forest Christian, Charles Franklin David, William Orin Tasker (1843- ) owner of a music store in Haverhill. [This was his book.] 16 x 24 cm. Leather on board, rubbing on spine edges and 2 cm tear in top edge of spine; Decorated with gilt seal of Massachusetts; owner's name, "W. Orin Tasker, Haverhill, Mass." on front free endpaper. Very good. (2163) $66.00.  Biography

Butler: Gen. Benjamin F. Butler's True Record,  Published by Order of Committee, October, 1879, John I. Baker, Secretary [Rare Massachusetts Campaign Pamphlet.] 1879 Boston, MA: Committee to Elect B.F. Butler. Very favorable examination of the life and performance of Benjamin F. Butler, born in Deerfield, NH in 1818, attended Waterville (later Colby) College, became a lawyer, State Senator in  Massachusetts, appointed a Brigadier General in the Mass. Militia.  During Civil War, his activities in Baltimore drew wide criticism.  He became most notorious for his activities as Commander of Occupation Forces in New Orleans, where he took over the posh St. Charles Hotel for his headquarters, hung a man for  taking down a Union flag from a flagpole, and ordered women in New Orleans who insulted Union officers to be treated as prostitutes. He became known in the South as "Beast Butler" and won him notoriety also in the North.   He was widely criticized for mismanagement, dishonesty, fraud, favoritism, criminal negligence.   This 32-page booklet presents a very favorable side of Butler's life and Civil War Service, as well as his service in the U.S. Congress, and his efforts to secure pensions and benefits for Civil War veterans.  This pamphlet was published as he ran his third unsuccessful race for Governor of Massachusetts.  "It is evident that the State government needs, if it is to be purged, such a democratic spirit, clear  intellect, accurate knowledge, firm hand, and fearless independence, as have been displayed in all his public career, by the honest and patriotic Benjamin F. Butler." 32 pp. 13.7 x 21.8 cm. Paper booklet, cover wrap lightly stained with 4 cm closed tear.  Fair. (7413) $43.00. Biography/History

La Guerre D'Amérique: Récit d'un Soldat du Sud [in French] (The American {Civil} War: Narrative of a Southern Soldier); Tome Premier [Volume One ONLY] par Fontane, Marius   ca. 1866 Paris, France: Adrien Le Clere ET Ce, Éditeurs, Rue Cassette, 29. Volume One of a two volume set. Small foldout map ( "Carte du Théâtre de la Guerre d'Amérique") at rear of first volume. Narrative by Marius Fontane (1838-1914).  Entrée de Charleston. L'exploitation des forêts de la Caroline du Sud.  Toinot le planteur. Les case des nègres. Premier coup de fusil (6 avril 1861). Jefferson Davis, président des États confédérés. L'arsenal de Norfolk (6 mars 1862).  Marche des Nordistes vers Richmond.   304 pp. + map. 11.5 x 17 cm. Quarter leather with marbled paper boards; covered with plastic film.  Fold-out map has small tears in folds. Good. (1735) $75.00. Civil War/History

Life of Horace Greeley, The; Editor of The New York Tribune, first edition by Parton, J. 1855 New York, NY: Mason Brothers. Traces life of Greeley from his Scotch-Irish parentage to early days in Amherst, NH. Book is dedicated "To the young men of the free states." 442 pp. 12 x 19 cm. Brown cloth on board, embossed, and printed with gilt. Minor wear on edges.  Text foxed. Includes contemporary newspaper clippings about Greeley, Civil War, and Greeley's death, in 1872.  Very good. (2135) $45.00. Biography/History

No comments:

Post a Comment