Thursday, June 21, 2012

A couple of weeks ago I sent the
following letter to Queen Elizabeth:

Following is a story your Majesty may find amusing, particularly as it
involves her late father.
In the summer of 1941 I was a nine-year-old Jewish escapee from the
Holocaust. The year before, my mother
and I had escaped from occupied Poland in rather dramatic fashion, the event
subsequently recounted in a number of books, and were living in New York with
my uncle, the artist Arthur Szyk, known to your Majesty’s parents.
Sent to summer camp in Massachusetts to learn the language and become
Americanized, I learned to sing the British national anthem which we did in
support of the struggle your country was waging at the time. And, much to my satisfaction, I found that I
understood almost all the words. I even
realized that “reign” couldn’t possibly mean “rain.”
Where I did have to do some speculation, however, was in the line, “Send
him victorious, happy, and glorious.”
Neither “victorious” nor “glorious” were words I had yet
encountered. But I knew about Queen Victoria, and it did not take a genius
to realize that “Victorious” must be the masculine form of the same given name.
Further reasoning led to the conclusion that this Victorious must be a historical figure, some Lancelot who had, most
likely, saved Britain once and was being called on to come to the aid of the
beleaguered king. The same went for Glorious, and, to this day, I visualize
King George on his throne, flanked by the heroic Victorious and Glorious
resplendent in their armor.
And as for Happy, well every
nine-year-old knew him to be one of the Seven Dwarfs, and any nation that drew
its inspiration from Disney as well as history could not be conquered by the
likes of Hitler.
Most sincerely,
Julian Padowicz

I have no idea whether the queen has seen or ever will see my letter. But I will watch closely any future television of her majesty attending to the playing of “God Save the Queen” for
any signs of her experiencing difficulty maintaining her composure.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Last week my
wife, Donna, and I flew to California to help our youngest grandchild, Nash,
turn two. On the airplane and in the
terminals, as I have for the past six years, I paid close attention to what the
other passengers were reading in the hope that one of them would be reading one
of my books.
In my mind I
carry a scenario in which I ask the person how they enjoyed the book and then
reveal that I am its author. They are impressed,
I sign their book, and we carry on a conversation until the flight attendant
tells me to get back in my seat and buckle up.
Of course it
hasn’t happened yet, outside my own mind.
But last Friday morning, as I was on the homeward leg of my Hope Street
run, a car came to a stop beside me and the window opened. I expected to be asked directions to the
Merritt Parkway.
“I’m so glad
I finally ran into you,” said the attractive woman at the wheel. “I’ve been carrying your books around in the
car for weeks, hoping to run into you, so you could sign them.” It appears that I had accosted her some time
earlier, as she minded her own business at a stop sign, and forced my flier on
her. She had gone ahead and ordered two
books from Amazon and had been hoping to run into me ever since.
As she dug
for the books in the back seat, I was sure they would be “Mother and Me” and “A
Ship in the Harbor,” the first two of my three Holocaust memoirs. I was wrong.
The top book of the two she hauled out was the novel, “Writer’s
I signed it
but, as I prepared to sign what I assumed to be the sequel, “The Best Sunset in
Venice,” I discovered it to be a second copy of “Writer’s Block.” I asked why she had two copies, and she said
she had loved the book so much that she had ordered a second copy for a
friend. As I wrote something in the
books, I mentioned that there was a sequel entitled “The Best Sunset in
Venice.” She said she would order a copy
right away.
I told her
that, if she gave me a ride to my house, only a couple hundred yards away, I
could sell her a copy and even offer her a cup of instant coffee. She agreed, and we spent the next hour
chatting about the characters in the book and the characters in our lives. It was really a very special experience and
one of the very special benefits of being an author.