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On The Light Side

June 27, 1988

ALMOND, N.C. (AP) _ Jeff Mathis’ pet, Sam, won’t fetch a ball or walk around the block, but he’ll let you pet him - if you give him a fat night crawler first.

The l 1/2 -foot-long, 3 1/2 -pound bass, who makes his home in Fontana Lake in western North Carolina, is spending his third summer panhandling customers at Almond Boat Park. Mathis spent hours training him.

Sam lurks just under the water, barely waving his tail. When someone dangles a treat near the water’s surface, Sam cocks his head, eyeballs the snack and gently floats toward the surface.

Then, in a fluid movement, he breaks water, snaps the worm out of the giver’s hand and slides back underwater.

″You should be down here and watch when the women feed him. He bites their finger and they scream,″ Wade Hoyle of Whittier said.

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RED BOILING SPRINGS, Tenn. (AP) - Snake oil, tonics to fight tension and other oldtime elixirs were hawked as about 6,000 people gathered for the third Folk Medicine Festival.

The downtown area was packed Saturday with medicine peddlers, crafts people and musicians. The town was a famous spa area in the 1920s, complete with mineral baths.

D.W. Burchett of Cookeville, who calls himself the Herb Doctor’s Son, sells a line of potions he claims can help cure ailments such as ulcers and stress.

″These formulas go back to the Cherokees,″ he said. ″They are things that grow in the woods here. The formulas are the ones my dad learned from his grandmother and they go way back.

″Did you know that dandelion tea is good for your liver?.″

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BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - Jim Davidson may call himself a couch potato, but he spends hours working as the president of NAAPM - the National Association for the Advancement of Perry Mason.

People are fascinated by Mason, the defense attorney who won countless cases in the old black-and-white TV series and continues racking up victories in occasional specials, because they identify with his battles against injustice, Davidson, 31, said in a recent interview.

The fan club, which Davidson founded two years ago, has 108 members in 104 states who pay $15 a year, ranging from Roger Christman, 16, of Reading, Pa., to George Fister, 79, of Oakdale.

″Perry Mason stories are always a thrill,″ said Fister, whose collection of the 150 books by Perry Mason creator Erle Stanley Gardner number 300 volumes.

Davidson’s passion for Perry began after he quit work as a jazz musician to pursue ″interest in other things.″ During a subsequent career lull, he found he couldn’t pull himself away from TV reruns.

″Perry Mason started out being one of those ‘other things,’ but now it’s consumed my whole life. It’s almost like a monster,″ he said, adding that he works 21 hours a week as a data processing clerk and the rest of the time as the club’s chief officer.

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