Miss Wally


Bessie Wallis Warfield Spencer Simpson, 1936, a year before she became the Duchess of Windsor.

This is too good to keep to myself.

A reader in New York occasionally sends me some reminiscences, observations, and corrections, when necessary. ¬†We’ve long since abandoned limiting ourselves to the subject of Venice; his life, by now in its eighth decade, is far too interesting to be crammed into the “V” cubbyhole alone.

He recently wrote me this, apropos of nothing whatever:

A letter came from a grand niece of my uncle (by marriage) Morris and was followed by a long call from CA in which I learned that he had won a couple of years at the Ecole des Beaux Arts after leaving the U of PA. He had never mentioned it. He was an architect for the chief of engineers and built hospitals all over the world during WWII, member of the Cosmos Club, the equivalent of the Century in NY and one of the founders of the Arts Club of Washington. My other architect uncle went to E des BA too and wore the little red ribbon (I presume he’s referring to the Legion of Honor) for having instituted a memorial for one of his teachers. The first was a real gentleman. The other once used the first’s name to use the Cosmos and had great airs. I call him my “let them eat cake” uncle.

My uncle came from Lutherville MD and one time was talking to an old colored family retainer who asked, “Mr. Morris, is it true that Miss Wally is going to marry the King of England?”

“It looks that way.”

“Is it true that he has to give up the throne to do it?”

“Yes, Jim, that seems to be so.”

There was a long pause, and Jim said, “I wouldn’t.”

He knew Miss Wally.

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  1. Charlie Pistor says:

    So, this a “famous person” story, as is the above story. My mother and her family lived in Jersey City, NJ. My gramdmother used to rent out one of her garages to “Old Blue Eyes”, Frank Sinatra. He was behind in his rent, and my grandmother told him if he did not pay what was due, the lock on the door would be changed. Lo and behold, he had to come to the house, and sheepishly pay the arrears. He also tried to make it with my aunt, when married to Nancy, but she always turned him down.

  2. Adrian Hodge says:

    Dear Erla,
    For a further insight into the shallow and shabby lives of the D&D of Windsor see “The Viceroy’s Daughters” by Anne de Courcy. This entertaining collection of biographies of Lord Curzon’s daughters introduced me to the preposterously named Fruity Metcalf, the well meaning, but impecunious husband of one. Poor old Fruity was devoted to HRH and would fly off around the globe to act as unpaid a.d.c. at the Prince’s (later Duke’s) whim. As France was about to fall to the invading German army, Fruity was sent to prepare the Windsors for their flight to safety, but the Duke and Duchess procrastinated. Then, one morning, he awoke to find the house deserted. The Windsors had fled in the only car during the night leaving Fruity “without even a bicycle” to make his own escape.

    • Erla Zwingle says:

      So the old servitor’s opinion of Miss Wally was spot-on. Would it were otherwise. Thanks for this lurid little glimpse.