Originally created 05/06/04

Odds and Ends



DETROIT -- General Motors Corp. has 455,382 retirees and surviving spouses in the United States, but none has a lengthier connection to the world's largest automaker than Ernest Pusey.

Pusey, who turns 109 on Wednesday, is GM's oldest retiree.

After serving with the Navy in World War I, Pusey joined the automaker in 1926 - 18 years after its founding.

He worked several plant jobs before retiring in May 1958 as a tool and die maker at Chevrolet's former Plant Four in Flint.

Pusey said he still remembers the early days of the industry, building vehicles that people would hardly recognize today. He said he appreciated his time with the automaker.

"I remember some of the strikes," he said in a telephone interview from his home in Bradenton, Fla. "Outside of that, the memories are pretty good."

Pusey was honored Tuesday during a birthday party at Bradenton's America Legion post. To commemorate the occasion, Gary Cowger, president of GM North America, and United Auto Workers vice president Richard Shoemaker sent Pusey a joint letter of congratulations.

In the letter, Cowger and Shoemaker noted Pusey was born in 1895, the same year as baseball legend Babe Ruth.

Though Pusey doesn't drive much these days, he's still a loyal GM owner. His vehicle of choice: a 1999 Oldsmobile 88.

As for his secret to a long life, the teetotaling non-smoker said he has none.

"It's just who I am," he said.

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TRENTON, N.J. -- Here's a new Bacardi recipe: Take a small community near Atlantic City, add $5,000, and for half a month, you've got a locality named after a cocktail.

For the first half of May, the Richland section of Buena Vista Township will be called "Mojito," named for a traditional Cuban drink made of rum, mint leaves, lime, sugar and club soda.

With a large amount of mint used in mojitos coming from Dalponte Farms in Richland, New York-based Baddish Group, which runs Bacardi's marketing, decided getting the community renamed would make for a great promotion.

Baddish brought up the idea with Dalponte Farms and Buena Vista officials. Area residents, clergy and the local Drug Alliance Commission were all consulted, and there was little worry about promoting an alcoholic drink, said Buena Vista Mayor Chuck Chiarello.

"No one is against alcohol," Chiarello said. "People are against alcohol being misused, especially by people under age."

The township committee voted 5-0 on April 26 to authorize the new name after Bacardi offered to give it $5,000 for recreation projects such as new playground equipment in public parks.

A road sign along Route 40 promoting mojitos has already been raised. And Bacardi plans to use images from Richland in advertising promotions.

Township Administrator Ron Trebing also thinks the promotion is a good deal.

"It'll improve recreation in the area," Trebing said. "Anything helps out."

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GOODWELL, Okla. -- Scientists believe a 5-foot tusk found in a quarry may have belonged to an elephant that lived more than a million years ago.

An employee found the tusk last week while removing gravel at a Texas County quarry and stopped his bulldozer immediately. After taking a closer look, he called Oklahoma Pahnandle State University. Professors and students excavated the tusk over the weekend.

The worker came within inches of destroying the tusk.

"If he would have hit it with another swipe from the bulldozer," said paleontologist and biology professor Amy Sheldon, "it would have been gone forever."

The tusk, which is 8 inches in diameter at its widest point, came from an animal in the Mammuthus genus that lived in the Pleistocene era, Sheldon said. The Pleistocene era, believed to be the most recent ice age, lasted from 1.6 million years ago until 20,000 years ago.

"At that time, they roamed the area like African elephants and Indian elephants do today," Sheldon said. "They were at least as large as our elephants today."

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- When officials at the COSI Columbus science museum unpacked bubble-wrapped bones for an exhibit of dinosaurs found in China, they didn't find any assembly instructions.

To make matters worse, three consultants from Inner Mongolia who were supposed to supervise the assembly didn't make it because of problems with their visas, said Debbie Timblin, with exhibitor Dino Don Inc.

That left John Shaw, traveling exhibitions manager for the museum, and four members of the local stagehands union with the daunting task of assembling 20 dinosaurs.

Although each specimen arrived with a steel frame, the bones had to be pieced together by hand, Shaw said.

"They were like giant jigsaw puzzles," Shaw said. "Fortunately, we had lots of photographs."

The 12,000-square-foot exhibit will feature dinosaur eggs, footprints and the 20 full-size specimens, half of which contain real fossil bones. Most of the specimens were found in China's Gobi Desert.

The exhibit opens Saturday and will run through Sept. 6. Shaw promised it would be finished on time.