THE INSTITUTE OF TEXAN CULTURES
ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM
INTERVIEW WITH: John McGiffert
SUBJECT: Queen Elizabeth II's Visit to ITC
DATE: 21 May 1991
PLACE: The Institute of Texan Cultures
INTERVIEWER: Pat McGiffert
M: Uh ... Bill Black, from the State Department. And he was
telling us about all the people in San Antonio he knows ... he's
good friends with ... like Travis Bailey whom he sees out in San
Diego a lot and this kind of thing, and a number of other
people who are very good friends of his. And all of a sudden
Rick yelled over, said, "Here they are," and then they were
here, and I ... you know, you kinda aren't mentally prepared for
it, I guess. But we watched them circle around (the
flagpoles in front of the Institute) in the trolley; come up
and I saw her and looked her right in the eye, you know -
facing .. . they were coming up and I wasn't even sure it was
her. That's strange, now that I think about it, but she does
look different sitting in the trolley.
PM: Was she the first off ... she wasn't.
M: No, the Chief of Protocol was first off a slender
fellow who was leading her through everywhere.
QUEEN ELIZABETH II 2
PM: Real tall and thin?
M: Yeah. He came up to me and introduced himself very
quickly and got through, and then Bill Black greeted her as
she got off and introduced her to me and then Sam
(Kirkpatrick) and Bob (Buschman), and she stuck her hand out
and shook hands and said hello, and behind them came the
(British) Ambassador (to the USA), I believe, and then one
other person I can't remember. And then nobody else,
thankfully, because I scooted out of the line and back behind
Sam. She and the Duke were standing there with Bill Black and
she and the Duke started to walk forward, and then he fell
back, and I was able to fall in right on the left hand side of
her. And I just started talking ... told her that this was the
University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures and she saw
that on the sign and mentioned that. Told her it was built in
'68 as the Texas Pavilion for the World's Fair here. She
commented about that and thought that was very interesting.
PM: Did she seem to know that before?
M: That this building was built? She didn't know anything
about this building.
PM: That there was a Fair here?
M: I don't know, but she was interested in the fact that
this had been built for that purpose. And I explained to her
that we had been a part of the university of Texas ever since.
What our role is here: dealing with divergent cultures, and
by that time, we were onto the veranda and the bagpipes had ...
QUEEN ELIZABETH II 3
M: had just begun to playoff to our right, and she was
fascinated with them. She stopped.
PM: How come they weren't playing all the time?
M: They began playing about when we were half-way in, and
she didn't seem to have noticed it, though . I guess maybe
it's such a common sound, but then I pointed it out to her as
we got to the veranda, that that was the San Antonio Bagpipes
Association ... Pipe and Drum .. . I mean, Pipes and Drums, and she
stopped and stood there and listened, really, for longer than
I thought she would - maybe 20 seconds .
And then we came on in and I continued to explain about
the building. I commented that the intro area was lined with
life-sized figures of all kinds of people, just to illustrate
immediately the diversity of Texans; that there is no
stereotype Texan. And by that time, we got down near the flag
and all the employees on the left started clapping. And she
looked and kinda waved, and then I told her that those are our
employees here. And she nodded and looked again; so they got
a double shot of her.
PM: They gave ... she gave them a wave when she came out.
M: Yeah. And then I ... we walked on and I explained to her
that this was the ... I had previously told her there were about
30 different areas on the exhibit floor, each representing
some ethnic, national, cultural, religious group, which had
come to Texas and remained and retained its identity, although
it had become Texan.
QUEEN ELIZABETH II 4
M: And the first area we were coming into was the Indian or
Native American area, and she and her husband were both
interested in the ... in the prehistoric wall - the serrated
wall there . And ... and, I think, would have liked to have
stopped and seen that. She was interested in the map on the
right of the various tribes because she kinda looked back as
we went on, and when we got around the corner and started
walking toward the tepee, she asked me what tribes had been in
Texas. And I said, well, there were three, over time, had
been here. There's the Plains Indians - the Apaches, and the
Comanches also were Plains Indians. And this was ... at this
tepee we ... you know, I explained to her what the interpreter
was doing there. She stood and watched the kids for a few
minutes . I wanted to say, "Wouldn' t you like to go up and
touch one of them ... or kiss 'em, or something?" but I
remembered: no questions. That's what Black had emphasized to
us - "no touch her and no questions". (Laughter)
So we turned around then and walked slowly past the Caddo
mural and towards the Pueblo Indian mural, and she asked what
those homes had been built of. And I said mud and straw. And
then we ran into the Anglo area. I mentioned that we had some
generic exhibits such as the dental office that she saw.
And ... and she was ... did a kinda double-take at the
longhorn. And I told her, of course, we did that to recognize
our ranching heri tage and ... because it's very important to our
history, and, of course, the British were very important in
QUEEN ELIZABETH II 5
M: financially supporting some of our largest early ranches.
And she said, "Oh, yes, in the Panhandle; I understand that."
And then we walked through to the Scottish ... just before we
got to the Scottish area, I pointed out that we, we focus it
on the stone cutters who came over here, and she was very
familiar with that, having just been to Austin.
PM: Right. They'd probably told her a lot about that.
M: And then we walked through into the dome area and I kept
waiting for (Mayor) Lila (Cockrell) to lead the way up the
steps, and she wouldn't do it. And to my, rea lly, kinda
horror, she made the Queen climb the steps first.
PM: The Lady in Waiting didn't go first?
M: Well, Lila didn't give her a chance. She just blocked
the way, and the Queen was waiting for somebody to lead her.
PM: I thought that she hesitated there.
M: Yes, she did. But she then graciously went up and then
Lila followed her. And then I was ... I had been told in the
last minute that I was to, uh, walk the Duke up and walk him
across and show him where he was supposed to sit ... stand. I
was ... uh, frankly, I was too embarrassed to do such a stupid
thing. So, as he followed her up, I said, "Sir, they would
like you to stand on the far side of the stage." And he kinda
did a very small nod and then went on over there; he knew
where to go. And so that was the way that went. And then the
damn microphone was off in the dome. Kenny had turned it on,
he said, five minutes earlier and it had been on. Somebody up
QUEEN ELIZABETH II
M: there had gone up there and turned it off.
apparently , didn ' t have the .. .
PM: Oh, it never was on?
M: Never turned on . Never .
PM: Because I could hear her, and I thought, oh well ...
M: Everybody could hear her. Oh, here's, uh, here's
Francie. Let me turn this thing off for a minute. Francie,
from the city (staff) just brought in this beautiful plant. I
don't know what it is.
M: That's a begonia?
M: A rose colored ...
PM: Peach color . ..
M: Peach colored blossoms. well, anyway, that got us
through the stage thing there and my business, but also it
looked to me like after Lila made the presentation, she kept
expecting the queen to get up and say something. But we'd
been told very definitely she wouldn't do that.
PM: I think a lot of people expected her to say something.
M: Uh ... and then, of course, we were all kinda astonished
that somehow the crowd had just become a mob and gathered in
the center of the room. And as it turned out, it worked out
all right, 'cause people were able to go back and forth and
meet both, both of them.
PM: But there was no path for her at all.
QUEEN ELIZABETH II 7
M: There was no path at all, and it was a little
overpowering, I think.
PM: And she was so surrounded that there could have been ...
M: Finally the, uh ...
PM: ... hazard.
M: Finally, the Secret Service got control of it and made a
path, but that was after she'd been at it for 15 minutes.
Something wrong with your eye?
M: And, uh, I was really pleased the way that worked out -
you and, and uh, Sharron (Buschman) and Pam (Kirkpatrick) got
to shake her hand, and ...
M: ... And, I guess, his too.
didn't shake his hand, did you?
PM: Kirkpatrick wasn't there.
Or at least ... I guess you
No, I didn't see him at
M: Kirkpatrick was there. He ... he shook her hand. And then
he saw them both. And it looked to me like almost everybody
who wanted to was, was having an opportunity to say hello.
And she was being very gracious, the way she walked through
there. And then, as she was ... as they were getting ready to
leave the dome area, the ... I was standing right in the way,
purposely, and they ... the Chief of Protocol came and said,
"The Queen is coming this way." And I said, "Yes, I know; I'm
greeting her. I'm going to pick her up and escort her out."
QUEEN ELIZABETH II 8
M: "Oh," he said, "Thank you very much." And then he went
PM: That was Black?
M: No. That's the Protocol Chief, you know. I guess .... . .
I don't know he ... .
M: No, the tall, slender man.
PM: That may be the one that told me to take the wrapping off
M: Was he a very thin man?
M: Wears glasses?
M: Uh, so ...
PM: Secret Service man, I guess.
M: Yeah. So, anyway, I ... I picked her up and told her that
we were ... we were coming to the French area which was really
Alsatian. Uh, and, but people like to say they were French.
And this Protocol man commented on the hearse, and so did she.
I forgot about that - she did comment on that. She called it
a funeral wagon.
And, uh, then I said, "I'd like you to stop in at the
Mexican area where there's more children", and, uh, we ... we
went right up to the pillar and watched; Cindy went into high
I mean ... I mean, that was Cindy Gonzales at her very
And the Prince ... and the Queen was just fascinated.
QUEEN ELIZABETH II 9
M: Cindy was ... you know, she knows the kids' names, every
one of them, and she kept ... and she kept all the kids
involved, 'cause she kept surprising them and getting them
invol ved in doing things, answering questions, uh, naming
implements. Brought one of them up to roll the metate - you
know, crush the corn. And she'd already had ' em making
tortilla patties, and she'd already explained how this was a
fire here, and, uh, and had them all saying how they would
cook the things. And she really was fascinated. She really
just stood there for a long time. Twice I tried to edge her
out, but she wouldn't move.
PM: They were already doing something when she got there ...
M: Oh, yeah, they were busy It wasn't as if they just
started. That was the way we had it set up. And, uh, then I
left .. . I led her around the pillar, and there's only a very
small area to get through there, and you're right next to the
herb case when you do get through. And as we ... as I led her
through and she came through the back, the Duke came around
the other side and they met at the pillar, and she turned to
him and said, "I really wanted to see how to make tortillas."
(Laughter) And, uh, then they stood there and looked at the
herbs, and they were very fascinated with the herb case,
identifying the peppers and all that stuff and, uh, showed
considerable interest in that.
And then they went straight on out, to where you were,
and that worked well, too, because I just ... about the time we
QUEEN ELIZABETH II 10
M: were passing the center of the store, I said, as long as
I am delivering this thing, I've got to give it to her . So
1 ... 1 said, "I have a gift I would like to present to you. I
don't really know how, but 1 ... 1 would like you to take it, in
memory of your visit here." And she ... she was delighted. She
said, "Oh, may I look at it here?"
PM: That was before you left the building.
M: Yes. I said, "It's a book that we publish here about
English Texans, and there may be something in there that will
interest you", or something like that . And she said, "How
delightful. Thank you so much. I will peruse it on the
airplane." And handed it to somebody behind her. And, uh,
then as we went out of the building, we ... we were faced with
these lines of kids on both sides of the bridge, which you
saw; you know, so many of them in uniform. It looked like
there were three different kinds of military schools
PM: I didn't know they were going to be there.
M: Yeah. They were gonna be there. They ... they had two
private schools, I think, and three public schools represented
out there . Oh, I had previously, uh ... she had asked me where
these children were from, inside the building, and I explained
to her that they were from local elementary schools, uh, all
within the city, and I told her they were ... I said I believed
there were four schools represented in the children that were
there . And, uh, ... I ... and then I said ... I turned to her and
QUEEN ELIZABETH II 11
M: she happened to be looking at me and I said, "You're a
real prize to them." And she smiled.
PM: You're a real prize?
M: You're a real prize for the children, to be here.
PM: Who? She said that?
M: I said that to the queen.
PM: Oh. Oh. OK.
M: And then she smiled. And ... anyway, we got outside, she
got out to the end. As I say, she walked through those
children in a very stoic manner. She didn't ... I don't believe
she even waved at them at all.
PM: The ones outside.
M: Outside. And they were all standing there waving their
flags, embarrassedly, and, you know, had they seen a little
response on her part, they would have, you know, felt better,
and they kinda looked at me, kinda vague looks on their faces;
they didn't know what to expect. And ... but we went right on
through. And ... but I noticed later, the Duke stopped, and he
was talking to a lot of them. And that was really nice. And
we got out to the car and she said, "Oh, the palominos,
they're so beautiful." And, "They're gorgeous horses," she
said. "Now, those ... those look like Spanish colors. Those
are Spanish colors, aren't they?" And I didn't know what she
was talking about.
PM: She meant the trappings on the horses?
M: No , I don't believe so. I believe she meant that they
QUEEN ELIZABETH II 12
M: were Spanish horses and the coloring on the horses came
out of Spain, or something.
M: And ... pos s ibly . I can't remember where the palominos
came from. Then I commented on the fact that the Palomino
Club here is very professional, very competent, and they do a
lot of good in the city. And are well-known. And she said,
"Yes, they're beautiful." And there was a slight pause and
she said, "Oh, he's talking to the children . " The door was
open, meantime, and I'm waiting for her to get in.
PM: Yeah, the air-conditioning - she didn't seem to mind the
M: No, she didn't seem to. And Bill Black was standing
there, too. And then I looked back and the king ... the duke
was just half-way through the kids. And I said, "You know, we
really do appreciate your coming here - to San Antonio and
also to the Institute - it means a lot to the people here, to
see you and to have you with us." And she said, "Well, it's
a pleasure to be here. I'm sorry that the visit is so short."
And about that time, the duke was showing up and I said,
"Well, it has been too short, but, again, we do appreciate it.
And my wife and I will also see you tomorrow night in
Houston, at the dinner." "Oh, isn I t that nice?" And she
whipped in (entered her car).
And as I stood there with Black, he was giving me
instructions all the time while the duke was getting in the
QUEEN ELIZABETH II 13
M: car and closed the door and waited for the cops to start
and get the convoy going. He's saying, "Now, stand here." I
mean, Black is telling me, "Let's all stand here." And he
said, IINow wave. II And she waved. (Laughter)
PM: Well, the civilians have their protocol just like the
army, I guess.
M: Oh boy, I'll say. Yes, they do. Well, that's the visit
now. Nothing exciting. I mean ...
PM: Well, say something about the Buschmans and Kirkpatricks.
M: Of course, Bob and, uh, and Sharron Buschman were ... were
here. And Bob ... Bob Buschman and Sam Kirkpatrick and I were
in the receiving line initially (outside the building). Sam
stayed with the Duke all the way in and then he picked up the
Duke when I picked up the Queen, to come back out. But Sam
had a good conversation with the Duke .... And apparently the
Duke was full of questions. And then Bob, however, merely met
the party outside, followed Sam in and the Duke in and then
peeled off and went into the dome area, but it was really nice
having him here, because he's not been too close to the
Institute in the past and he's showing a lot of interest,
PM: Buschman, or Sam?
M: Bob Buschman. And he'd obviously been talking to his
bride about it, from the conversation I've heard. He'll say,
"See that? Remember I told you about this?" And, obviously,
she was very pleased to be a part of all this. And I want to
QUEEN ELIZABETH II 14
M: record the story that somebody told Sam ... what was
it? .. Sam was talking about, "Isn't it fun to be part of the
PM: Oh, right.
M: And somebody had said, "Well, you know, you know what
crust is, don't you? It's ... "
PM: It was Duncan Wimpress.
M: ... "it's ... it's ... a11 it is is crumbs mixed with a lot of
dough. " And I thought that was very hilarious. Was that
Duncan that said that?
PM: The upper crust is only crumbs .. .
M: ... Mixed with a lot of dough.
PM: Mixed with a lot of dough.
M: Yeah. And, well, that's about it. That's the visit of
Queen Elizabeth the Second. On Tuesday, the 21st day of May,
1991. Amen . Halleluia.
TAPE I, Side 1, About 25 Minutes
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