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Queen Elizabeth has Buckingham Palace; I have Lift Station No. 8

Dear Shirley, Sometimes, I have delusions of grandeur. I know it is presumptuous of me, but I compare myself to the Queen of England. After all, we both are the same vintage. She was born in a castle in England on April 21, 1926. I was born May 3...

Dear Shirley,

Sometimes, I have delusions of grandeur. I know it is presumptuous of me, but I compare myself to the Queen of England.

After all, we both are the same vintage. She was born in a castle in England on April 21, 1926. I was born May 30, 1926 in St. Mary's Hospital in Pierre, S.D. When she was 25, Elizabeth ascended to the throne. When I was 25, I ascended to the second floor of the Meyer Broadcasting Station in Bismarck, where I was working for radio station KFYR.

Throughout my lifetime, I have watched Elizabeth II. I have stood in front of Buckingham Palace where she has a royal chef when she entertains. She never has stood in front of my house on Cottonwood Street or watched me go to Hugo's and sometimes buy a salad for my bridge club.

I notice that Prime Minister Gordon Brown reports to Queen Elizabeth every day. Mayor Brown never checks in with me. She does have a few palaces here and there. I have a lift station with my name on it.

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Queen Elizabeth often gives out awards and knighthoods, Shirley. I give Cheerful Person of the Week awards in the Grand Forks Herald. Small armies prepare her meals. I sometimes go to Wendy's for a baked potato with chili on top.

Her husband, Philip, now is 85 years old. Her son, Charles, turns 60 this year. My son is not a prince. He is a newspaperman and he will be 52 this year. He never will become king.

Oh, I know it is silly of me, but sometimes I picture myself having tea with the Queen of England. Fat chance, I know. Even Barbara Walters hasn't been able to snag an interview with her. I often wonder where the queen keeps all of her matching hats. I have read that she does her own hair and makeup. I usually go to Nikki at Salon East. I also have read the calm, controlled queen we see on television and in the newspapers can be feisty. Well, as you know, Shirley, I can get uncontrollable.

There are times when I actually feel sorry for the Queen of England. She never has had dinner at Sanders. She never has been to a Sioux basketball game or met Gene Roebuck. She has never gone biking on the Greenway. But the queen has been to the Kentucky Derby. She loves horses. I am afraid of horses. People curtsy when they meet the Queen of England. If anyone curtsied to me I would ask them if they had the bends.

When the Queen of England goes on a trip there are charter planes waiting. They take two rows of seats out to give her more room. I stand in line at Grand Forks Airport and squash myself into economy class seating on Northwest Airlines planes. I don't know if they mix the queen a gin and tonic or not. If I want a drink, I pay $5 for some middle-of-the-road red wine.

The queen has a 24-car fleet, and she rides a Bentley. I drive my own 2005 Avalon. The Queen of England has five residences. I can barely pay the taxes on my modest home. And, of course, the Queen of England has had lunch with George Bush. Once I had lunch with Ray Holmberg and Duaine Espegard.

She wears matronly dresses. I wear pants from J.C. Penney. She has a nice smile. I look sappy when I smile. She goes for walkabouts. I just go for walks. She has elegant jewelry. I have a string of pearls I bought in Hong Kong.

The Queen of England goes around greeting diplomats and heads of state. I interview people who lead everyday, ordinary lives in the area where the Grand Forks Herald circulates. When she finishes an interview, she presses a hidden buzzer and the doors open to end the meeting. I just get up and say thanks and go on my way.

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It's fun to fantasize about the life of Queen Elizabeth. I have to get down to earth, though.

And I send my love from the banks of the Red River of the North. Your sister, Marilyn.

Reach Hagerty at mhagerty@gra.midco.net or (701) 772-1055.

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