My Fond Memories Of Driving Bob Hope

Jim Luff
Posted on October 18, 2016

Nancy Reagan prepares to present Hope (age 94) with the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award, 1997 (Wikipedia Creative Commons photo)

Nancy Reagan prepares to present Hope (age 94) with the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award, 1997 (Wikipedia Creative Commons photo)

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to once again coordinate the transportation for the Bakersfield Business Conference. The star-studded political festival began in 1985 and has included more former U.S. Presidents, prime ministers, and political luminaries than the U.S. embassy is likely to see in a day. We have hosted Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Dan Quayle, to name a few. While it is an honor to meet all these people, one man stands out in particular: Bob Hope.

I opted to drive Bob and his wife for the honor of driving such a legend. It was toward the end of Mr. Hope's life. He came to address the crowd of 10,000 people and it was clear to me that time had taken a toll on his brain. He was well received and did very well on the stage delivering his speech.

As we headed back to the airport in a sedan, Mr. Hope asked me if I could give him a brandy Alexander. Now, I'm not exactly sure what that is or how I would make one while I was driving or whether he wanted me to stop at a bar that serves such a drink. Fortunately for me, Mrs. Hope told him she would make him one once they got on his plane. He said, “okay” and that was that. That is, until we reached the next signal light and he asked me again as if asking for the first time. Mrs. Hope gently reminded him she would make one on the plane. I felt bad such a legend was having difficulty with his memory.

I suppose he must have asked me to make him that drink about four more times before we arrived onto the tarmac. As I approached the open door to his jet, he looked at his wife and asked, “Did you get the check from those people before we left?” I knew then the important things in life were not forgotten. I saw the check as she showed it to him and I can understand why he didn't forget it.

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