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Helping hands around the world

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We were in and out of Accra when I was doing business in West Africa 35 years ago. We usually stayed at the Ambassador Hotel. Late at night, as we'd be trying to get to sleep, the band on the bar terrace below our window would play, "I Left My Heart in San Francisco." One of my favorite tunes. I lived in San Francisco before we married. I loved to hear the band swing into those familiar strains. The local crooner would sing: "where little cable cars / climb halfway to the sky..."

And I'd want to jump out of bed, thrust my head out the window, and yell: "Halfway to the stars! Stars! Stars!! It rhymes, my friend! 'Stars' rhymes with 'cars.' " I wanted to, but I never did. It was their country, after all, and I was a visitor.

Every morning, as we'd be lying in bed with the gray light of dawn just appearing in the sky, a well-dressed hotel executive would unlock the door, poke her head inside the room, and ask, "Are you leaving today?" Our personal alarm clock. We knew it was time to rise and conquer the world.

My contact in Accra was Cameron, a tall, well-dressed, well-spoken, good-looking African. He had published a novel, "The Gab Boys." I still have a copy of it on my shelves – and oh! did I wish I could say I had published one, too. When he took us to his home, his wife, Beryl, greeted us. She was attractive, formerly a dancer whose father had been a Briton in the colonial service. And there was a teenage boy, Cameron's son.

"The son is the child of one of Cam's up-country wives," a fellow I met told me. "He has two wives up country, taking care of his farms. Beryl's his city wife." Amazing!

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