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Tbe Oxford Letter

By Christophor Jonus

I came to Taormina from Syracuse in the same compartment with a Sicilian family consisting of the father with a long mustache, the mother holding a baby, and a daughter looking like a brunette version of Greta Garbo and eating salami. My time was spent between looking for Mt. Etna and smelling the salami. Before the journey was over, however, I was eating salami, holding the baby, and listening to an Italian, French, handlanguage version of the last eruption of Mt. Etna in 1923.

When we arrived at Taormina three hours later there was another family at the station to meet my companions whom apparently they had not seen in may years, for in the excitement of much saluting and kissing I too was kissed and told something to the effect how tall I'd grown! Then there was much laughing and explaining and finally my friends drove off in their donkey cart leaving me with salami and four taxi drivers wanting to take me 700 feet up the mountain where on a narrow rocky plateau rests Taormina, certainly one of the most charming spots in the world.

The affecting greeting given me on may arrival was not a bad cordial people reflecting in may ways the character of their surroundings. I suppose our learned psychologists think more of glands than geography, but here is a people living on this lovely mountain slope, snow-rimmed Mt. Etna clear in the distance, the Mediterranean below; oranges, almonds, lemons and flowers of every variety growing in abundance--and nothing much more important to do but work their donkeys, have babies, and cheat Americans.

And doesn't Mr. Etna, "The Mountain", have much to do with their way of life? There have been some 80 eruptions. Might not another come tomorrow? Even now! Life is uncertain. But there is always the present, always a song, always the sea to look upon. and so the live.

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