To suggest, as did the July 17 Style article "Land of Hard Knocks," that Sen. Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) needs lessons on how to be a gracious host was a nice angle from which to begin a story. It was, however, far from the truth.

Five years ago my uncle, Wilfred "Bill" Durkee, then 80, was visiting from Las Vegas. It was his first trip to Washington in 50 years. Uncle Bill had retired long before from a job as recreation director at the Mercury nuclear test site in the Nevada desert. When I asked if he would like me to take him to see the Capitol, he remarked that he'd "just visit one of our Nevada senators, Harry Reid or Dick Bryan." I thought it quaint that my uncle felt he could drop in on two senators, and I left it at that.

Later that afternoon, I received a call at my office from one of Mr. Reid's staffers. She wanted to let me know that my uncle had stopped by and that the senator was taking him along on his rounds through the Capitol.

To Uncle Bill -- a man who was never active in party politics and whose life was dedicated to encouraging people to "get out and play ball" -- the encounter was what anyone should expect from an elected official. For me, it was a demonstration of extraordinary grace that is indelibly etched on my memory.

CLAUDIA CALLAWAY

Washington