Seniority Counts on Road Gang

--A group of senior citizens left Seattle for a nearly monthlong trip through China in travel trailers, the first such expedition by Americans through the huge nation. “This is primarily an adventure trip,” said Frank Sargent of Ft. Myers, Fla., who will turn 76 midway through the vacation he has planned for almost three years. “We’re taking a little American neighborhood over there to meet people on a neighborly level,” he said. Among those making the 25-day trip are Oscar and Etta Payne, ages 90 and 82 respectively, from Thermopolis, Wyo., where their family owns a recreational vehicle park. “The average age among us is 70,” Sargent said before his group left the airport. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing for us.” The group of 10 elderly couples and some of their relatives will travel in a caravan of 11 aluminum, silver-colored Airstream trailers, each 20 feet, 6 inches long and specially equipped for the China tour. The 11th trailer has been set aside for the Chinese guides who will accompany the group on the 1,800-mile trip along the back roads of China. Among the planned stops are Gulangyu, the island site of a former foreign settlement; Quanzhou, the port city from which Marco Polo sailed, and Nanjing for a boat trip down the Min River.

--Sen. Paula Hawkins (R-Fla.) has been chosen Grandparent of the Year. Hawkins, who has six grandchildren, was selected for her work on the Special Committee on Aging and for setting up the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Mike Goldgar, 66, of Atlanta, a grandparent who prodded Congress into honoring grandparents, says it’s important to honor grandparents on Grandparents Day next Sunday because they provide a “stabilizing influence, like a rudder if you will, that keeps the country growing.” He said grandparents are individuals who make the family whole. “I think families should go out together. If they have fun together, then you’ll remember your grandparent,” Goldgar said.

--Former President Richard M. Nixon met with Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone and briefly discussed trade issues between the two countries, an official of the prime minister’s office said in Tokyo.

--Even heads of state must submit to security checks when they fly out of Australia, authorities said--and so the refusal of the president of the tiny Pacific nation of Nauru to have his luggage examined left him stranded for three days. Sir Hammer DeRoburt at last left Melbourne for Honolulu after he finally allowed his hand luggage to be checked with a security device, an Aviation Department spokesman said. “There are no exemptions. All hand luggage is X-rayed, and all passengers are required to be checked for carrying metal objects,” the spokesman said. “Even heads of state are not exempt. Our own leaders are not exempt. You can’t have two levels of security screening,” the spokesman said.