Army heritage profiled in The Bells of San Francisco

A new book, The Bells of San Francisco, is an engaging and entertaining history of the Army through the years, by Judy Vaughn, former public relations director in San Francisco. The book is currently at press and may be ordered from Golden State divisional headquarters; for additional information call 1-800-944-9677. Following is an excerpt.

Queen Elizabeth and The Salvation Army’s Chevy

A story about former divisional leaders, Lt. Colonels Ray and Bunty Robinson, will bring a smile to those who knew them during their tenure in San Francisco.

When Queen Elizabeth II arrived in port in 1983, they received an invitation to a reception aboard Her Majesty’s Ship, the royal yacht Britannia.

Preparing for the event, Bunty Robinson found her husband busy waxing the family car. Soft spoken and basically very shy, she wondered aloud if perhaps it might be appropriate for guests to arrive in limousines for so grand an affair.

Robinson was a frugal man. Everyone knew that. He was British and certainly excited to see the queen, but not so much that he would ever consider putting on airs. He looked up for just a moment, surprised at the suggestion, and kept on waxing, never missing a beat. “No,” he mused, “we’ll take the old blue Chevy…and we’ll drive it ourselves.”

And so they did. The Chevy was parked near big black limousines. The reception was crowded with women in designer gowns. In deference to the queen, the Robinsons wore Salvation Army uniforms with stand-up collars no longer used in America at the time, but still worn in Britain, where the Army began.

Bunty wore a bonnet. A Scot by birth who had never had occasion to see the royals in Britain, she was thrilled by the occasion and framed the glove that shook the hand of the Queen.

She has it still.

Note: Lt. Colonel Ray Robinson was promoted to Glory in 1990.

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