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AUGUST 4, 1997



Happy Birthday, Oscar

  by Oscar Roloff
   Recently a young lady from Duvall notified The White House that Oscar Roloff, a friend of hers, is soon to add another year to his age.
   The card arrived on my 79th birthday. Normally the requests pertain to those who reach older ages such as 100 or more or slightly less. Maybe things have changed or an allowance was made in my case. Anyhow, it was a total surprise.
   Thanks to that Duvall lady, you all recall her, so I won't mention her name.
   Years ago, I used to write to The White House and request they send me or directly to the person celebrating an anniversary a card. They always obliged, even when I asked for something different or out of the ordinary (which in my case is not unusual).
   I've since ceased the greeting card project. Too busy and getting too old.
   In the past, the card has carried the President's signature or photo. In the card sent to me was also the First Lady's signature.
   A few years ago, a retired navy friend of mine volunteered to join the group of six who helped take care of the many requests for cards for older citizens on their birthdays. He enjoys the job and the perks that go with it: access to the White House and hob-nobbing with the big wigs.
   Originally, the requests arrived at The White House where the group began their work. When they became too over-burdened there, an office was set up at the nearby US Naval Base - Gun Factory. Most people think the President personally handles each and every request. Normally not. Anyhow, recipients feel that their top boss does so. Makes 'em feel good.
   Until a few years ago, I used to ask for birthday, anniversary cards for those around 100. Wonder how I rated at 79?
   Oh yes, when in the Naval Press Corps in D.C. I had passes to high brass and Congressional halls. Not now. I wait in line at the gas station like everyone else and have no special car. My retired naval friend said one has to go through a special check-out by the FBI when seeking the volunteer job such as he holds. White House guards scan each and every person seeking entry. I've been there many times on tour and know of restrictions.
   Letters to The White House seeking special cards should be written in proper English and in polite form, my friend said. The oldest person that I procured a White House card for was 105. It was two weeks later that he went around to seeing who had sent him the danged White House letter.