Travels, Sightseeing, Vintage Postcards
Photographs taken by US Navy sailors in WW2
By Stephen Sherman, April, 2010. Updated March 22, 2012.
Pompeii is a ruined and partially buried Roman town-city near Naples, Italy. Along with Herculaneum, its sister city, Pompeii was destroyed and completely buried during an eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.
The volcano collapsed higher roof-lines and buried Pompeii under 20 meter of ash and pumice, and it was lost for nearly 1,600 years before its accidental rediscovery in 1592. Since then, its excavation has provided an extraordinarily detailed insight into the life of a city at the height of the Roman Empire. Today, it is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Italy, with approximately 2,500,000 visitors every year.
The Mediterranean and Italy suffered a lot in WW2. When my father traveled there with the US Navy in 1944, much of Pompeii had been bombed out, but the famous old Roman ruins still attracted the sailors on sightseeing trips. His memoirs, which we pick up here, focus more on the circumstances of war-torn Italy than on the ruins themselves.
If indelible memories were neckties, we all would have needed at least six large steamer trunks to keep them in. That means only those memories that we wished to hang onto. Following are some of our recollections of Pompeii. Not many are pretty:
- The sight of Mt. Vesuvius with its ever-present wisp of smoke, across the bay of Naples.
- The trip to Pompeii on the Toonerville trolley-like railroad. When coming to a station, the motormen would poke his head out of the window, place a cow horn to his lips and blow a tin-horn sounding shriek to warn the swarm of people that were spilling over and onto the tracks.
- The ride back from Pompeii and the packed in crowd of sailors and jostling Italians, standing room only. The fat greasy unkempt young woman that seemed to keep on crowding and pushing against me. There was much laughter all around us. There was also a young Italian guy nearby that could speak some Engllish so I said to him, "What the hell is going on here?" He replied sheepishly, "Hey Joe, y'wanna (beep) onna train?"
- The never ending chant of the kids, "Hey Joe, y'wanna eat? y'wanna drink? y'wanna dance Joe"? and in a lowered voice, "Hey Joe, ya wanna eat spaghetti, Joe?"
Postcards of Pompeii
|Pompeii Santuario with Mt. Vesuvius|
|Pompeii Santuario interior|
Photographs of Pompeii
Memoirs and photographs of Milton W. Sherman (1919-2010). He served in the U.S. Navy during WW2, on board the USS Denebola, AD-12, when he was in mid-twenties. On board the Denebola, he sailed to Pompeii in late 1944, where he bought these vintage postcards from street vendors and the photos from the ship's photographer. You might enjoy reading a fuller version of his travels in the Denebola.