Originally created 05/15/04

Odds and Ends



BATON ROUGE, La. -- A Louisiana state representative's idea to ban low-slung pants is making him the butt of colleagues' jokes.

When the bill came up for debate earlier this week, Rep. Derrick Shepherd, a Democrat, was met with catcalls on the House floor.

The bill would make it a crime to wear clothing in public that "intentionally exposes undergarments or intentionally exposes any portion of the pubic hair, cleft of the buttocks or genitals."

Launching a fiery speech in support of the bill, Shepherd said, "There comes a time in every society where we must draw a line of decency, where we must speak to a group of individuals who would flaunt the laws of our state, who would flaunt the morals of our community."

The result: laughter from some and a facetious chant of "No more crack!" from a fellow Democrat, Rep. Tommy Wright.

Shepherd asked for a delay of a vote and the measure awaits action.

Despite the jokes, some opponents have serious concerns. During a May 6 committee hearing, Heather Hall of the American Civil Liberties Union said Shepherd's bill would institute a literal "fashion police" and a "really invasive violation of the fundamental right to public expression."

House Criminal Justice Committee Chairman Danny Martiny, a Republican, said he agreed with the spirit of the measure but said the law would be impossible to enforce.

"I don't know that it's respectful to pay my respects at a funeral without my shirt on, but that's not illegal; that's just stupid," he said. "Government can't fix everything."

ROCK HILL, S.C. -- Archie Dawson has some advice for any man wanting a marriage as long and successful as his.

"Just say 'Yes, ma'am' and 'No, ma'am,' and stay your distance," he joked.

He must know what he's talking about. Archie, 90, and his 86-year-old wife, Mary, celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary Wednesday.

The two were wed May 12, 1934, at the York County Courthouse after Archie paid a magistrate $3 for the service. Archie considers it a bargain. The couple will have a reception to celebrate their milestone Sunday.

When they first met, Mary was dating Archie's friend. But Archie immediately fell for her.

"When she walked out on the porch, my heart stopped," said Archie, who still grins about the encounter. "Pretty, I tell you."

After Mary broke up with Archie's friend, the two began a courtship that Mary didn't take that seriously at first.

"I was just having fun," she says now. "I didn't know he was the one."

The couple enjoyed dances and playing cards. They dated about a year for Archie popped the question at the Lake Wylie dam.

The couple have both been retired for at least 25 years. They still drive themselves to get groceries, medicine and go to church.

Besides their son, the Dawsons have a daughter, Cynthia Stegall, five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Mary doesn't have a secret to her successful union.

"It's give and take," she said. "You have got to be willing to compromise and talk things out."

ALBUQUERQUE -- A finger was found outside the jaguar exhibit at the Rio Grande Zoo a day after a groundskeeper spotted a frequent visitor running out with blood on his pants.

The man ran into a bathroom at the zoo Tuesday, said Director Ray Darnell. The groundskeeper followed the man and asked if he was OK, but the man turned and ran out of the zoo.

The finger found "was pretty dried up. It looks like a Halloween prop," said Rick Janser, mammal curator.

The man believed to be injured is in his 50s and is known to them as one of about 15 or so people who visit the zoo every day. He has a New Mexico Zoological Society pass, which enabled zoo officials to call him.

"Are you missing any fingers?" the man was asked.

"Oh no, there's nothing wrong with me, you have the wrong guy," the man responded, according to Darnell.

Some people visit the zoo every day and devote themselves to particular animals, Darnell and Janser said.

"About two weeks ago we found some food in the cat exhibits that we didn't give. We increased watching but never saw anyone going over the rail," Darnell said.

The man who said he didn't lose his fingers was seemingly entranced with the cats and particularly with Manchas, the jaguar, Janser said.

"He'd be seen talking to him, sitting in front of his exhibit" every day for about the past year and a half to two years - except this Wednesday and Thursday, Janser said.

PARDEEVILLE, Wis. -- A writing lesson came to a sudden halt when a bolt of lightning struck the chimney of an elementary school.

"Some of the kids actually hid behind my desk, they were so scared by the noise," fourth-grade teacher Jackie Weidner said of the Thursday morning strike.

"It was like a really big crash - like 5,000 rifles going off," said fourth-grader Brook Harshman, who recalled seeing a big flash out the window.

No one was injured, but a vertical section of bricks was blasted loose from the chimney and tumbled onto the roofing below, causing administrators to move children out of nearby classrooms to the cafeteria of the nearby high school.

School Superintendent Wayne Edwards said it was too soon to estimate the damage, which included at least one small hole in the roof of the gym and electrical damage to the phone system.

Classes at the elementary level were canceled Friday.