Even out here, Hope made many memories

Thursday, July 31, 2003

During his 1988 visit to North Platte, the late Bob Hope quipped "I come to North Platte all the time. Where are we, anyway?"

For those of us in the media covering the visit, especially small-town Nebraska journalists, it was an assignment of a lifetime.

Hope was in North Platte to honor the volunteers who kept the famous North Platte Canteen in operation throughout the war years -- an effort more recently immortalized in Bob Green's book, "Once Upon a Town -- The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen."

It's too bad Hope couldn't have paid a similar tribute to McCook's canteen effort, every bit as much of a miracle as the one in our neighboring city to the north.

That doesn't mean McCook didn't receive its share of the star's attention.

After his 100th birthday a few weeks ago, Hope's photograph during an appearance at the McCook Army Air Base in World War II was published as part as Linda Hein's "On Main Street" column in the Gazette.

It isn't surprising Hope appeared at the McCook base -- it would probably be hard to find large military installation the entertainer didn't visit at one time or another. In fact, he once visited 65 military bases in a single month during the war, with a gaggle of beautiful chorus girls in tow.

That love of entertaining the troops never left -- he continued bringing his show to troops through Korea, Vietnam and even to the Gulf War in 1991 and the years of relative peace in between the conflicts.

Born in London to a hard-drinking stonemason, one of seven brothers, Leslie Townes Hope went on to be the ultimate American patriot.

We hope you have been able to read some of the many tributes and view some of the televised biographies of Hope in order to gain insight into the life and motives of -- dare we say it -- the greatest entertainer of the 20th Century.

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