Monday, July 30, 2007

My Letter from the Queen

Sort of.

In 1966 I was living in Los Angeles at the northern end of the campus of the University of Southern California. Ernie was living in an apartment at the south end of the campus, right by the Los Angeles Coliseum, where I was indoctrinated into American football. I took this photo of the apartment building in 1965. One of Ernie’s neighbors was Robert Bale, a delightful Englishman in his late 90’ s, who lived with his daughter, the formidable, but very generous, Genevieve.

Mr. Bale told us colorful stories of his time in the States (I seem to remember he was at one point a cowboy.) He had never become an American citizen, so as his 100th birthday approached, I set about securing for him one of the telegrams the Queen habitually sends to her subjects when they reach 100. In 1966 you couldn’t go to the Internet and download an application form, so I must have written a letter rather haphazardly to Buckingham Palace. I received a reply. The envelope was hand-addressed, the stationery cream and thick, printed with the Royal insignia. In these days of mail merges and high-speed laser printers, the type looks a little blurred. The grammar is a tad circuitous.

But it did the trick. Mr. Bale got his telegram and was delighted. Thus ended my correspondence with Elizabeth R.

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