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War’s Over: Play Ball 3/8

March 16, 1991

NEW YORK (AP) _ Now that the war we watched on television is over, people are changing the channel. They’ve got other things on their minds: uncertain economy, uncertain peace. Golf, not Gulf.

Spring break, spring training. Play ball 3/8

People are traveling again; tourism triumphs over terrorism.

People like Charlotte Cosulich in San Francisco are putting their homes on the market. People like Winston Delara are spending money: He’s got his eye on a new television. ″I know that’s a funny way to celebrate an end to the war,″ he said.

Celebrations come in everyday ways, in small gestures of relief and normalcy. A sign of the times outside the Ponderosa Restaurant in Wausau, Wis., advertises baked meatballs and French onion soup. Just days ago, it read ″God Bless our Troops.″ The local business types who used to hunker down over eggs and hash browns to talk about the front lines now chat about the back nine.

The night the bombing of Iraq began, the Milwaukee Bucks players and coaches joined hands in a pre-game tribute to the troops. The war bothered Bucks coach Del Harris. He found it difficult to concentrate.

″I found myself at times depressed,″ Harris said. ″I never asked the players, but I know they had to have concerns about it because they knew people who were involved.″

The end of the war was a relief, he said. He no longer checks CNN before heading to a game.

Neither do millions of other Americans. The Atlanta-based network’s audience gains are gone with the war. Its staffers are gone on long-delayed vacations, and public tours of CNN headquarters - stopped for security reasons -are back on schedule and sold out.

So was the Los Angeles Dodgers-New York Yankees spring training exhibition game in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Advance sales were down this year. People weren’t as willing to stand in line for hours, as they had in the past. But the end of the war brought them running back.

″We’ve never had walk-up business like this before,″ said Mark Zettelmeyer, veteran spring training general manager for Yanks.

The fans packed the stands, soaking up the sun, trying not to think about all the worries they left outside the stadium.

″I’m a real-estate appraiser, and that’s really slow right now,″ said Frank Kasper, who wore a Dodgers’ cap. ″As you can see, I’m spending my afternoon at the ballpark.″

More than half of Americans think the economy is bad and getting worse, a recent New York Times-CBS News Poll showed. One out of three people interviewed in a Los Angeles Times poll this month thought the economy would be the nation’s most important problem during the next five years.

At the Bull & Finch Pub in Boston, the bar that inspired the show ″Cheers,″ the most important problem during the next five minutes is who’s buying the beer. Talk turns to the war that was, and how it feels now that it’s gone.

″It’s less of a relief than I thought,″ Sam Jordan said. ″I didn’t even follow it,″ Jim Riveria said. ″I’m sorry it ever started,″ Ruth Gifford said. ″I’m embarrassed by the whole thing.″

The end has been too vague for some people, unfinished business that puts them on edge. Saddam Hussein is still in power, the region is still in turmoil. Candace Davis and her kids don’t trust uneasy endings.

″I have two older children who won’t have kids because of the way the world is,″ said the 42-year-old, a new grandmother anyway. A younger daughter’s daughter is the sixth generation of women in their Qunicy, Mass., family. She has a great-great-great grandmother who’s 101, a survivor of five - make that six - wars.

″They don’t believe it’s over,″ Davis said of her kids. ″I still don’t think it’s over.″

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