Friends from various parts of the country had come to Keokuk, Iowa to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of Ruth and Bob Fisher. Before what would be a festive dinner, we were enjoying cocktails on the broad lawn high on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River.

I was deep in a conversation about the wonders of air travel with someone I'd just met and knew only as Butch. I mentioned that I'd seen on television Bob Hope getting off an airplane in Beijing swinging what the Chinese identified as a stick. In fact, it was a golf club, an unknown item in that part of the world. Then, it turned out, Hope was later entertaining a group with his famous one-liners, none of which were understood by his audience.

"Wasn't that silly?" I asked Butch.

He nodded in seeming agreement, but now I realize he was just being polite.

I later discovered I'd been talking to Maurice Granville, CEO of Texaco, Bob Hope's sponsor for the trip to China.