Lead Story

In a May San Francisco Chronicle story on traffic tickets officer Cliff Kroeger of Martinez, California, said he once gave a ticket to a man who was clocked doing 87 miles an hour. One end of a large flexible tube was sticking out the rear window of the man’s car, the other end went into an aquarium in the backseat. When stopped, the driver said he had mathematically calculated that 87 was the exact speed needed to aerate the aquarium keep his fish alive.

Cries for Help

In August seven relatives ranging in age from 10 to 71 piled into the family car in Council Bluffs, Iowa, intending to commit suicide over money troubles. The driver smashed into a second car, injuring the three occupants, but none of the seven depressed people was hurt.

The Democratic Process

Missouri state representative Beth Long pleaded guilty in June to the theft of four pairs of salt-and-pepper shakers from a Rocheport, Missouri, restaurant during a legislative dinner the month before. She said she didn’t know how they got into her purse.

High points in references to underwear in the Taiwan parliament: In may one legislator symbolically waved a pair of women’s underpants while complaining about the low regard for Taiwan’s national flag. In June a female legislator charged the podium and slapped another female legislator who’d remarked that the first woman’s underwear was showing.

Bill Frist, Senator Jim Sasser’s Republican challenger in Tennessee, revealed in a 1989 book that while he was a Harvard medical student in the 1970s he procured cats for experiments by going to animal shelters and claiming that he wanted them as pets. A woman who worked for the Tennessee Humane Association at the time said Frist violated at least three state and federal laws with his scheme.

After voting earlier this year to disband their police force, residents of Osage, West Virginia, voted in June to disband the whole town government. A major reason was dissatisfaction with the large number of traffic tickets being issued.

In June Kansas state representative Richard Alldritt accused his colleague Melvin Neufeld of attempting to get his vote on a budget bill by threatening to tell Alldritt’s wife that Alldritt was fooling around with other women. Alldritt didn’t change his vote, and, according to the district attorney, Neufeld squealed on him.

In March Minnesota state senator Steve Dille offered an amendment to a welfare-reform bill intended to reduce the number of single parents receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children. The amendment would have required the government to study the possibility of establishing a dating service for single parents, potentially getting them married to each other and off the rolls. (It was defeated 44 to 2.)

In Saint Joseph, Michigan, Harry Caldwell III won the Democratic primary race for county commissioner despite being jailed three weeks before the August election because he’d paid only $5 of the $34,980 he owed in child support. In San Jose, California, George Shirakawa was reelected to the city council in June, a month after he died. But in nearby Martinez, California, voters rejected a dead man, Dan Hallissy, who was on the ballot for county assessor.

According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Republican congressman Jay Dickey told a Little Rock radio station audience in July that fear of malpractice lawsuits leads some physicians to overprescribe tests. Said Dickey, “They might take you in there and perform a C-Span even though you don’t need it.”


In February a jury in New Orleans ordered Dr. James Bennett to pay $5,000 to a nurse Bennett shot in the buttocks with a surgical staple gun. Bennett, who said it was intended as a “joke,” had shot the woman as she bent down to retrieve sponges in the operating room only seconds after he used the gun to close a surgical wound.

According to police, in April in a quiet Wheaton, Maryland, neighborhood of split-level homes Gilmore “Bo” Addison and his son, Mark Anthony Addison, got into a gunfight over whether Bo had taken his son’s money. Mark retrieved his AK-47 assault rifle and peppered his father’s bedroom door. Bo fired back with his .22-caliber rifle, hitting Mark in the leg and buttocks as he scurried down the stairs.

In New Brighton, Minnesota, in February a 32-year-old man and his 24-year-old girlfriend were arrested after having a food fight in a grocery store. After arguing loudly the couple allegedly began throwing sweet potatoes at each other. Eventually the man threw the woman into several vegetable racks, sending the contents spilling to the floor. They continued to brawl on the floor, and she stuffed lettuce into his mouth.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

The Associated Press reported in September on Ray Barnes’s new Baltimore enterprise, a service to clean up bloodstained death scenes after police investigators finish their work. Barnes and his wife use a variety of sponges, mops, and air fresheners and an enzyme that digests blood, though sometimes they have to tear out carpeting and wallpaper because they can’t clean them. Barnes says business is good, even though the fee starts at $200: “I don’t know too many people who would want to go in and clean up the remains of their loved ones.”

Undignified Death

Baptist minister Reginald P. Wiggins, 48, passed away in Philadelphia on September 28 after slipping into a diabetic coma. Not long before, Wiggins had announced that after a decade of intensive study of the scriptures at the Christ Memorial Reformed Episcopal Church he’d concluded that the apocalypse would occur in September 1994.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.