JUNE 8, 1939
WASHINGTON, Wednesday—When I bought my newspapers in the Poughkeepsie station yesterday morning, I exclaimed over the news of the shot fired at the Duchess of Kent. How precariously royalty exists! How hard it must be to forget the constant anxiety of those about you! The woman behind the counter, who is an old friend, remarked: "Yes, it certainly is a responsibility to have the King and Queen here. We certainly have to take all possible precautions."
This was interesting in view of the fact that I feel sure many people would protest violently against the orders reported in New York City that all people on the sidewalks where the parade passes, as it goes to the World's Fair, must stand motionless and all windows must be closed.
On the train, a lady came up to me to say how deeply she was interested in this visit and with what interest she read my column to know just what was happening every day. There is no shadow of a doubt in my mind that there are few individuals in any walk of life who are not thinking and wondering about the King and Queen of England. If I needed any further proof, my mail would corroborate this. One of my most amusing letters tells me that on scanning over the menu for dinner at the White House, the writer finds that fish is to be served with a wine sauce, which should never be served with that kind of accompaniment. My correspondent may be soothed with the news that the fish course has been eliminated.
Three people I met yesterday asked me just how to greet the King and Queen, if they have an opportunity to meet them. That reminded me of a story told me in the Yosemite about one of the oldest rangers who was with me on a camping trip. Billy Nelson had accompanied King Albert and the Queen of the Belgians when they went through the Yosemite on their visit to the United States immediately after the World War. They were a charming, royal couple and they understood well the real value of human beings. I am sure that one look at Ranger Billy Nelson's face assured them that he was a grand person. He had been carefully coached, however, as to the proper way of addressing royalty. When he stood before King Albert, he forget everything and, with a reminiscent chuckle, he told me: "I just said `Howdy King' and held out my hand."
I forgot to mention yesterday that the little village of Hyde Park is all decorated in anticipation of the visit of the King and Queen. Every farmer in the vicinity is praying for rain because the crops need it very badly, but I feel sure that the village officials will be deeply disturbed if the flags and bunting are ruined by any real downpour of rain.
When we reached Washington yesterday afternoon, the decorations had begun to appear even in this sophisticated city, which only puts on its gala attire at the very last minute. I found many questions of procedure on my desk awaiting last minute decisions.