When Barbara Waddell heard the telephone ring in her Reseda home just before Christmas, she was preoccupied with holiday preparations. Moments later she sat down in a chair and tried to catch her breath as she thought about the brief conversation.
The call had come from Merrick Baker-Bates, the British counsel general in Los Angeles, at the behest of Queen Elizabeth. Her Majesty wanted to invite Waddell to Buckingham Palace to be decorated with an award for service that would make her a Member Of The British Empire.
Being made a Member Of The British Empire doesn’t grant you land or a hereditary title, but it is a heady honor for anyone who is a subject of Her Majesty the Queen.
Even a subject like Waddell, who had been born in Montreal in 1917 and lived in Southern California since 1953. Waddell, now 77, had moved to Brentwood with her husband, a manufacturer’s representative, and their child. She later divorced and moved to Reseda, where she still lives.
She has never given up her Canadian citizenship. When asked why, she responds, “because of the Canadian health care system. If I become very ill, I’ve told my son to take me back to Canada. I’m afraid it’s very expensive to be ill in the United States.”
This is ironic since Waddell has devoted more than 30 years helping those in need of care, particularly the residents of the British Home in California for senior citizens, in Sierra Madre, as well as charities that help children, battered women and the blind.
For that service, she had been recommended to the queen for the 1994 honors list by members of the local British community.
“Every year the queen decorates those who have performed outstanding service in a variety of fields,” says Waddell.
Once the invitation was extended, Waddell accepted and invited her son, Richard Waddell, a movie studio sound mixer, to join her.
“Because I live in the United States, I was offered a choice of dates for receiving the award, as the queen gives them out several times during the year,” Waddell explained.
On March 25, the Waddells, at their own expense, flew to England, where they visited with friends throughout the country. On March 29, they prepared to see the queen. They hailed a cab and told the driver to go to Buckingham Palace.
Once there, they were shown into a magnificent hall where about 200 prospective medal recipients and their guests were waiting for instructions. Guests were taken to the Throne Room. Those to receive awards were taken to another room to be told what to do.
“I was told to approach the queen, once my name was called, curtsy, and then Her Majesty would present me with my decoration. Two decorations, actually. One is a large medal, the other is a smaller replica that you can wear,” Waddell says.
“We were all told that we were not to speak to the queen unless spoken to, and that under no circumstances was anyone to applaud,” she adds. “I was then told that after the presentation, I should take four steps backward, curtsy and then leave. I was worried about tripping or stumbling.”
Not to worry. It all went off like clockwork.
Waddell even received the honor of a brief chat with Her Majesty.
“When I was introduced to the queen, she smiled and said something about my work for the British Home in Sierra Madre. She mentioned that she had visited the home on a trip to Los Angeles 15 or so years ago.”
Limo Service Owner Says No More Kids
If you’re under 21 and looking for a big time in a limo, don’t call Barrington Limousine Service in Agoura Hills. Take your business elsewhere.
Ralph Claussen says he’s had it with teen-age wanna-be hotshots with no manners. He’ll stick with his corporate clients, thank you very much.
“Anything you can imagine kids doing, they want to do in a limo,” says Claussen. “They are promiscuous, do alcohol and drugs. They ride around throwing things out of the windows. Most of them are hopeless when it comes to any trace of ever having been taught manners.”
Calls to other limousine companies seem to validate that opinion, although others don’t turn teen-agers away.
A man at Starlite Limousine Service, who asked not to be identified, said some kids will book several limousines for the same date and then take the cheapest one that shows up. “They just laugh at the other drivers who have lost a night’s pay,” he says.
Claussen says that kids will typically book a limo for six people, then cop an attitude when eight show up and the driver will only take six.
“Another thing kids like to do is play with all the gadgets, including the cellular phone, television set and VCR. Blowing the sound system on the stereo seems to be a cool thing to do,” Claussen adds.
He used to think that talking to the parents or having a parent along was the solution. One dad quickly put him off that idea.
“The father allowed his 18-year-old birthday boy to help himself to everything in the bar and then fed the kid more alcohol when the pair went into a West Los Angeles restaurant. The kid, on the way home, was throwing glasses out of the sunroof of the car,” Claussen says.
“We’ve had kids sign contracts that they would do nothing in the limos that was illegal. I even had one woman driver who would frisk kids for alcohol. Nothing helped, so I’ve decided, no more,” Claussen says.
Doctors Get a Taste of Another Kind of Medicine
Many believe that merriment is the best medicine, so it was fitting that the menu at the Valley Presbyterian Hospital luncheon honoring outstanding physicians included salmon, roast beef and laughter.
Some of the awards included the Hawkeye Pierce Award for the Best Sense of Humor, the Doogie Howser Award for the Youngest Looking, and the Dr. Lucy Jones/Cal Tech Award for Calm in the Face of Disaster.
From the mirth emanating from the Van Nuys hospital’s Health Education Center, one might have thought that an antidote to medical forms had been discovered. But, despite the laughter, the awards were very real.
The Tim and Al’s Black & Decker Award, as an example, went to Stephen Snyder, an orthopedic surgeon who is the innovator of several instruments now widely used in orthopedic surgery.
The Marcus Welby Award for Best Relationships with Other Professionals went to Leo Parker, an anesthesiologist who is chairman of the hospital’s Continuing Medical Education Department and an authority on medical ethics.
And the Dan Jansen Award for Best Recovery After a Disaster went to Mike Vitullo, medical director of the Emergency Medicine Department for the long hours of unflappable service rendered in the emergency room after the January earthquake.
“I have no rational reason to be sitting here crying over the death of a President that I thought I hated every minute of my adult life.”
Woman to friends in Studio City watching the funeral of Richard Nixon on television.