arson.com by Ed S.
A tall tale of Greer -- A young girl gets a peek
During the war Greer Garson made a bond-selling tour through Canada
and my aunt and I wanted to see her in person.
I was eleven at the time and I had gone with my aunt to see "Pride and
Prejudice" twice and "Mrs. Miniver" three times. My mother was never
able to take me because of her job at Westinghouse and she wasn't a big
movie fan anyway, which was odd because everyone else in the world was.
On her way to Montreal, Greer Garson had to stop off briefly in Toronto
and the whole city was in an uproar because she would be spending a
night at the Royal York Hotel, which is where everyone who was anyone
stayed in Toronto. Sometimes a famous person would stay at the King Eddy
down the street but the Royal York was much more convenient as it was
right across the street from the train station.
My aunt had taken me to the Royal York once before to see the King and
Queen during their coast-to-coast tour in 1940 and on that day we had
managed to get a good vantage point on the sidewalk across the street
from the hotel, right in front of Union Station.
But my aunt was busy on the day that Miss Garson was to come and my mom
wasn't really in the mood to stand in a crowd for hours and hours on her
day off, but I squawked for half an hour until she finally gave in and
agreed to take me. She wouldn't let me take my new Greer Garson
Colouring Book with me though because I would just lose it and in any
case there was no way I'd be able to get Miss Garson to autograph it.
But I took it anyway and that put mom in an even worse mood.
The best spot we could get was on the sidewalk across the street from
the hotel, at the back, right in front of Union Station and up against
the railing that overlooked a sunken driveway into the train station
behind us. We were at the very back of the crowd pressed up against the
railing, so I could barely see the top of the hotel across the street
much less the cars on Front Street where she would be getting out to
enter the hotel.
Well all of a sudden there was a roar from the crowd and everyone turned
right around because Miss Garson had just gotten off a train and was
exiting Union Station right behind us to get into a limousine on that
driveway below. I guess it really was the only way she could get across
the street to the hotel without being mobbed. Miss Garson stopped
before getting into the limousine and waved up to us and so my mom and I
had the best possible view that I could've imagined.
I was shouting along with everyone else and Miss Garson wouldn't get
into the limousine until she had waved and made eye contact with every
single person up on the sidewalk. I was waving frantically with both
hands trying to get her to see me and I wanted her to know that I had
brought my colouring book and that it was an actual Greer Garson
colouring book, but the wind came up and the book slipped from my hand
and fell to the ground beside the limousine below.
Well no one seemed to notice except my mom and she told me "I told you
so" and I started to cry. Miss Garson finally got into the limousine
and the crowd turned around again and moved off to catch her as her limo
drove around to the hotel across the street. I looked over the railing
down at the driveway but my colouring book had been blown away by the
wind and I just stood there with my mom and bawled.
Just then a huge policeman came up to us and said "You! Come with me"
and my mother refused and the policeman just got angry and shouted
louder and so we followed him into Union Station. He took us to a little
room where we waited for five minutes on these uncomfortable chairs and
then a tall redheaded woman burst into the room carrying my colouring
Well, you can imagine who that woman was and I wasn't even able to
speak. Mom just sat there with her mouth open catching flies. Miss
Garson had seen me waving the book and had seen it drop and wanted to
make sure that I got it back safe and sound. She signed it for me and
gave me a hug and a kiss and then had to leave. I just sat there in
that little room and sobbed for ten minutes.
I still have that colouring book and if I ever sell it on eBay then the
starting bid will be $10,000!