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Royalty And Movie Stars In The Great Depression (Issue 7)

Growing up in the Depression years, money was scarce as hens’ teeth.
 
There was a little store in the school building. My parents would give me a bag of eggs to take to school to swap for candy from the little school store. The problem was that I had to walk almost a mile to catch the bus and many times, I would fall down and break the eggs. I caught the bus at my grandparents’ house, and would go to my grandmother crying after breaking the eggs and she would replace them.
 
As I approached my senior year, my father realized I would need money for graduation to pay for things like invitations, my cap and gown, and my senior trip. He came up with the idea of giving me a white faced calf to raise which I could then sell for graduation expenses. Despite the fact I grew up on a farm, I was not really an animal person. I never learned how to milk a cow or ride a horse, and would usually only go around the animals when they were behind the barn gates. However, I knew I needed to take care of that calf if I expected to graduate.  I fed it with a bottle at first, then learned how to take care of it, giving it water and food as it grew. I sold that calf to my father 3 times before graduation.
 
The one thing I loved was butterflies. I had a history teacher that told the most interesting stories about his fetish for catching butterflies. In the summer, he would travel to the Rocky Mountains to look for rare specimens of butterflies, then relate his stories in class. As a result, I chased butterflies and would search for the cocoons before they hatched.
 
We lived in a farm house with a long hallway that separated the rooms. One of the rooms across the hall was rarely used and it had a chest of drawers in it that my mother seldom opened. I would sneak in that room and store my cocoons in the drawers. The room was not heated and around Christmas time, she would bake cakes and store them in the cold room in the chest of drawers for a few days. Once she opened a drawer and a covey of butterflies came flying out and I heard her scream.
 
I would mount the butterflies in a collection and every time I hear any reference to the metamorphosis of the monarch butterfly, I think of that drawer full of cocoons.
 
In the backyard was a very large walnut tree. My mother would speak of walnut as being the aristocrat of wood. She even said that one day we’d plan on selling it for the walnut lumber, that way, we’d have lots of money. It never happened of course, but as a child, I thought that walnut tree was our ticket to wealth and riches.
 
I read everything I could get my hands on, especially newspapers, and dreamed of one day leaving the farm. Reading about the lives of movie stars and the royal family and their lifestyle held such fascination for me. I recall reading about Edward abdicating the throne and about his romance with Wally Simpson. We all gathered around the radio to hear his abdication speech. I thought about that ‘other’ great and wonderful world out there I looked forward to exploring one day. Everything about royalty held such a fascination for me.
 
Later on, after marrying and moving to Florida, I went to a dentist in West Palm Beach. When I walked out of the dentist into the parking lot , there was Wally Simpson, the wife of the Prince of Wales, getting into a car. It was a highlight of my life to lay eyes on royalty.
 
Little did I realize one day I would be living in Japan and playing bridge at the Tokyo Press club, with a member of royalty as my partner in the Prince Takamatsu Cup Tournament. It had only been about 5 years before that, as I understood it, that any of the royal family there ventured out from the mote walls. I still have the news clipping with pictures of me playing in the tournament.
 
I also then wound up doing some part-time work in the movies with stars like Robert Stack and George Sanders. Little did I know dreaming as a child about royalty and movie stars that I would ultimately wind up in contact with them.

We never know the direction our lives may take us, but for me, it has been most interesting—the good, the bad, and the indifferent. In retrospect, I look back and say I must have been around twice.
 
I know there must be thousands of people out there, from another era and generation, with interesting stories to tell. I hope you use this fascinating medium of computers to blog with me and send your stories.
 
Enjoy Freedom!
 
JUST ME,
AC

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