MARCH 18, 1955
ROME—We left Marseilles early Monday morning and had to wind through such narrow roads between the high walls surrounding the various proprieties that the authorities kept large trucks from going ahead of us so that we would not get tied up in a slow traffic line. So, we arrived rather quickly at Camp Grand Arenas where the Jewish families from Morocco and their children are accommodated until the next boat comes to take them on to Israel.
The usual stay for the youngsters at this camp is from eight to 10 days. Conditions are not luxurious but they are sanitary, and thought is given to the various dietary requirements. There is a special room for preparing the small children's meals.
The camp personnel is recruited in part from Israel and in part from Marseilles and an effort is made to try to run a program that will keep everyone fairly busy. There is an infirmary and a little hospital at the camp and we saw innumerable children with the measles. As many as three in one family suffered from measles and that meant that either the mother or the father sat with the ill children all day while the other parent watched over those who were well in the barracks.
I thought the men seemed quite wonderful with their children and showed real willingness to help the mother in her many cares.
The people at the camp seemed to appreciate that their visitors were wishing them well and those who had worked for Americans in North Africa tried to say a few words in English. The camp director told me that such men were always a Godsend because they had learned how to work and would take up whatever tasks were given them and do them well.
We were impressed by the cooperation shown by the French government at both Cambous and Camp Grand Arenas. In every way possible they make the running of these camps easy and simple, and I think the Jewish organizations chiefly responsible, like the Joint Distribution Committee, are especially grateful for the attitude of the French government.
After leaving the camp around 11:40 a.m. we motored along a pretty road till we reached a sign pointing to the Abbey de Celle. Our driver turned in there and we found ourselves in the most delightful place. It had once been a monastery and now is a garden and small restaurant hotel. We had a delicious lunch and a little walk and soon started out for our longer drive to Nice.
We arrived half an hour early at the Nice airport after enjoying to the full the picturesque road and the beautiful glimpses of the Mediterranean. Our plane was half an hour late but that gave us a little time to chat with our own consul, who kindly came to meet us, and the manager of the airport, who confided that the climate was so good he hated to go back to Paris even though he was born there. Then we went on our way to Rome.
It is a thrill to fly into Rome by night. It is a wonderful sight from the air, and I enjoyed the drive from the airport to our hotel. We could not see the Coliseum by moonlight but we did see it lit up by artificial light, and it was very beautiful.
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