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THE KING AND I

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Updated: February 28, 2013 6:58AM



The king is gone...

It was snowing on the day when the only king buried on American soil was laid to rest in a Serbian Orthodox Church cemetery in Libertyville.

Back in 1970, the remains of King Peter II of Yugoslavia — a European royal adrift since World War II — were interred at St. Sava monastery shortly after his death the year before at the ripe old age of 47.

It was quite a scene; straight out of a Boris Pasternak novel. Women in babushkas carrying steaming trays of food; the Slavic sound of Serbian tongues; mourners traipsing to a church hall for a homecooked feast after burying a monarch driven out of his country by the Nazis and then the Communists.

Like a scene out of “Doctor Zhivago,” all that was missing was a horse-drawn troika. I still remember the cold and the frozen earth and the crunch of thick, fur-lined ankle boots worn by women leaving the onion-domed church following the burial.

And I remember being hungry but worrying more about having a quarter in my purse to plunk in a pay phone, and turning in the story to a re-write man on the editor’s desk for an early edition.

“Whadya say the king’s last name was?” the re-write man would rasp. “Karadjordjevic? What! Spell that again.”

Years later, I’d chuckle at that memory when I had to remember how to spell another difficult Serbian name: “Blagojevich.”

Back then, I was still cutting my journalistic chops on a reporter’s entree to worlds few ever saw. This one just happened to be located in our backyard. Who knew.

Last Tuesday, after a long struggle by King Peter’s son, Crown Prince Alexander, to bring his father home, the dead king’s remains arrived in Belgrade, Serbia, where a formal state funeral will be held in May.

Since 1970, I’ve taken a number of people to St. Sava in Libertyville. All were stunned at the setting; all unaware a king was had been buried there.

That was 43 years ago. The king may be gone but I’m still pushing a pen. Cop shop...

Top cop Garry McCarthy, who is hoping to enlist big name celebs (Derrick Rose/Common/Michael Jordan) in a public service campaign to change the stigma surrounding snitching by victims and/or witnesses to crime, tells Sneed:

“It’s a concept. No traction yet. Lot of people interested, but we need someone to administer the project.”

◆The bottom line: Hmmmm. How about Father Michael Pfleger?

Cop shop II...

Sneed is told Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, along with top cops from several major U.S. cities, has been summoned to a meeting Monday with Vice President Joe Biden to discuss gun control. Pizza pizzzzzza!

Sneed is told 21,000 pizzas are being sent to every soldier in Afghanistan and Kuwait for Super Bowl Sunday with the help of Gov. Pat Quinn, DHL Express and Pizzas 4 Patriots.

The Hillary file...

◆Ledge support: Although it has been confirmed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, still recovering from a concussion, wore special prism eyeglasses for double-vision during her congressional hearings last week — Sneed also noted her reaching out for support by grabbing a wooden ledge when exiting the hearing. This & that...

◆Rescue ’em: Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker is at it again. The Good Samaritan, who doesn’t mind the publicity, just rescued a dog left outside in freezing temperatures after learning about it on Twitter.

◆Smoke ‘em: Actor Leonardo DiCaprio is now smoking electronic cigarettes. Now aren’t you glad you read this column? Sneedlings...

I spy: Former Cubs star pitcher Ryan Dempster had dinner at Harry Caray’s Tavern Navy Pier Thursday night... Longtime Cook County State’s Attorney spokesman Andy Conklin is moving on to new job at Northwestern University... Sheriff Tom Dart will be speaking at the City Club on Tuesday presenting a history — with updates — of the John Wayne Gacy case... Saturday’s birthdays: Eddie Van Halen, 58; Ellen DeGeneres, 55; and Lucinda Williams, 60... Sunday’s birthdays: Mikhail Baryshnikov, 65; Alan Cumming, 48; and Steve Wynn, 71.



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