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OT: Three Lifetimes Ago

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It was June 1983. I had just extended in Germany. Because of my specialty "MOS" I was given a bonus of an extra 30 days leave. I promptly took all 30 days.My German longtime girlfriend and I pointed our Citron Ente towards Italy.

The plan was to sleep every other day in the vehicle and stay in cheap pensions other days. We hit the west coast of Italy and stopped at every tourist destination and noteworthy ruins. Rome/Pisa/Naples/Pompeii were a couple more well known stops. We drove across the instep of Italy and visited Lasassi on our way to Brindisi . I went to the military post there to stock up on cheap Budweiser.

We headed up the eastern coast. We had Bari as a destination. We got detoured in the Trulli area of Italy. The folks were friendly and we got side tracked touring the town and got a late start going back on the road. We picked a side road to park the car to sleep in it that evening.

Michele got really excited because she saw something that was photo worthy. She put on her fanciest lens and was trying to zoom in photo she wanted. All I could see was lots of activity. She told me that baby pigs and puppies were eating out of the same big bowl and she wanted a photo.

Then we saw 6-7 people walking down the dirt driveway at us. I got kinda nervous. Michele knew a little Italian and talked to the entire family that came down to see who was on the road near their house.

After a few broken Italian sentences the teenage daughter asked me if I was an American. She spoke English and was I astounded at how well she spoke. The next thing you knew we were invited up to the house to have a bite to eat and sample some wine from the Family's vineyard.


They were a very poor family. There was no glass in their windows. They were covered with burlap bags. The front door was a tarp. Pigs and chickens and dogs walked in and out of the house at their leisure. We talked to almost dark. None of the family members had ever meet a real American they told me. We shared one large bottle of wine. I noticed that only the three adult males were the only ones drinking.

The teenage daughter explained to me that her Dad was very old school and he didn't allow women to drink. I remember I had just stocked up with Budweiser and I offered Dad some Budweiser to drink. The daughter translated. I walked to the Ente and got a case of Bud.

The daughter read the ingredients to her father and the son in law. They both cracked open a Bud. The dad called the beer Water Beer. This is how the daughter translated it. The men had already drank a huge bottle of wine and were slamming Bud and laughing and asking if there was any alcohol in the beer. I offered the mother a beer and dad spoke up and said he preferred if only the men drank.

30 minutes later and 10 Budweiser each the son in law and dad excused themselves. They both staggered away to sleep. There were 4 buds left and the women sipped the beer after their drunken father and husband left. They giggled with glee and made fun of their men for slamming 10 buds each in 30 minutes.

We were offered a hay pile indoors at their house to spend the evening. We passed on the invite. We made up an excuse we had to get on the road. We drove 5 minutes closer to Bari and parked and slept in the vehicle.

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