YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Ann Conway

Delicacies, Diplomacy and Dessert

March 17, 1987|Ann Conway

After a serious discussion of relations between United States and Mexico, John Gavin, former, ambassador to Mexico, gave Chapman College supporters a lesson in diplomacy Friday night.

"Henry Kissinger told me diplomacy is nothing more than common sense," Gavin told 100 guests at the Newport Beach home of Judie and George Argyros. "The difference between stupidity and diplomacy?" Stopping to employ Kissinger's accent, the former actor continued: "If you look at a girl's face and say, 'As I look at you, I think your face could stop a clock!,' that's stupidity. But, if you look at her and say, 'As I stare into your eyes, time stands still,' that's diplomacy."

Gavin's appearance highlighted a $50 per-person cocktail buffet staged by the Men's Patron Committee of the Fashionables, a support group of Chapman College in Orange. Both groups help provide funds for scholarship and special projects.

As guests waited for Gavin to arrive from Los Angeles, they strolled about the Argyroses' three-story French country manse, sampling corn fritters and mini-tamales. Two bars, one for cocktails, another for fine wines, had been set up outside, on a terrace by the bay.

The Fashionables dressed with casual elegance. Pilar Wayne, who had just returned from a New York meeting with McGraw Hill (regarding her book on John Wayne, due for publication in August), wore red fox over a casual dress. Mildred Mead, founder of the Fashionables 17 years ago, wore a black jump suit with a rhinestone embroidered dickey. Fashionables' chairman, Mary Lou Hopkins-Hornsby, wore classic black silk with pearls. Judie Argyros wore a tomato-red Valentino.

After his arrival, Gavin, now a corporate vice president with Arco, sipped a Diet Coke and stood in the elevated dining room to address guests. "It seems to be an evening for people disappearing," he said, referring to the absence of his wife Constance Towers, George Argyros and James Roosevelt. Towers had a speaking engagement. Argyros was in Arizona with his Seattle Mariners baseball team. Roosevelt had the flu.

Gavin congratulated the crowd on the Chapman Enterprise Institute, a program--chaired by Roosevelt--that promotes the free enterprise system. He said his five years in Mexico, concluding in 1986, had been a wonderful opportunity to serve his country. An opportunity, he said, to make the point that respect is a two-way street. "I was told by some of them (Mexicans): 'Jack! You know we like you, and we like your country, but we must attack the United States publicly. That's just what is done!'

" 'Not on my watch,' I told them. You may not use us as scapegoats or whipping boys. And I think I finally got that message across. During my time there, it's that of which I am most proud."

Citing trade, immigration, security and narcotics as significant issues facing the two countries, Gavin zeroed in on narcotics.

"Thirty-three percent of the marijuana we get in this country comes from Mexico. Thirty-eight percent of the heroin. And Mexico is the trampoline country for cocaine.

'Take a Stand'

"I had some Mexicans tell me the narcotics problem was not theirs. 'Your country is the problem,' they said. ' You are the consuming nation.' And, ladies and gentlemen, I have to agree with that. No amount of attack on the production side will eliminate narcotics in this country. We must take a stand, really become a society that crusades against this cancer. If I leave you with no other message tonight, I hope you remember that."

During a buffet which included shrimp with tequila sauce and berries in rose-scented clotted cream, Chapman College President G.T. (Buck) Smith spoke privately of the Enterprise Institute, founded in 1981. "Under Roosevelt the institute has become a kind of Marshall Plan, if you will, for Mexico. We try to help other countries help themselves. Not in terms of foreign aid. But in terms of this country's free enterprise system nurturing and encouraging that of another. There is hope that Mexico can catch an entrepreneurial spirit, a sense of enterprise."

Representatives of the institute had met with President Miguel de la Madrid in December, Smith said.

Warren Hancock, a founding director of the institute, spoke privately during dessert of the program's advantages for Chapman students. "We want young people to know that the principles of free enterprise--the opportunity to grow and develop and become responsible for one's own actions--are still thriving in this country. And that they still work."

Hancock said the college uses lectures, debates and special programs to enhance student understanding of the enterprise system. "I know the opportunity I received by being born in this country," he said. Hancock invented the Hancock Heart Valve, a valve replacement used throughout the world. Its development led to the creation of Hancock Laboratories, later sold by Hancock to Johnson & Johnson for $35 million.

Among those attending were Jerry Richards, chairman of the Men's Patron Committee, with guest Gloria Gae Schick, Frances and Chandler McCurdy, Virginia and Paul Bender, Barbara and Kent Freundt, Rusty and Bill Hood, Tom Wilck, Scott Hornsby, JoAnne and Gene Mix, Ginny and Dr. K. J. Smallwood, Joni Smith, Gloria and William Haney, Annette Hurwitz and Orange County Supervisor Thomas F. Riley and wife Emma Jane.

Proceeds were estimated at $5,000.

Los Angeles Times Articles