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On The Light Side

September 1, 1986

CHICAGO (AP) _ When guests at the posh Hyatt Regency Hotel first saw the turtles, they asked if turtle soup was on the menu.

But the turtles were there for racing, not eating.

More than 50 turtles raced Sunday in the hotel’s pool in the seventh annual Midwest Turtle Swim. About 200 fans cheered.

″The guests are a little taken aback by it,″ said Hyatt spokeswoman Nancy Ruth. ″At first, they think we’re cleaning the lagoon. Then when they see the turtles, the question they always ask is, ’Oh, is turtle soup on the menu?‴

This year’s champion was a yellow-bellied slider named Max, who swam fast enough to win the $100 grand prize for his trainer, Diane Krawczak, 31, of Chicago.

The event is sponsored by the Chicago Herpetological Society, whose 700 members are devoted to the study and conservation of amphibians and reptiles.

Each turtle wore a red, yellow or blue waterproof plastic racing stripe and number taped to its shell. Times for each 10-foot heat ranged from about 30 seconds to 90 seconds, although the contestants were not timed.

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CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) - A band complete with an electric organ played in the supermarket to bid a musical farewell to the woman known as the ″singing checker.″

For more than 25 years, Flo Arbeiter took some of the pain out of standing in a checkout line with her constant grin, helpful advice and the way she ″sang″ the prices as she pecked the cash register keys, store officials said.

But on Saturday, Ms. Arbeiter, 65, rang up her last dozen eggs before retiring from Albertson’s supermarket.

″I think they should take her out with a herd of camels and a brass band,″ said Donna Benner, a regular customer for the past eight years. ″She has such a way of cheering people up. She’s just a delight.″

For Ms. Arbeiter, each cart filled with groceries was a different verse.

″I don’t know where the singing came from,″ she said. ″It just seemed to come naturally.″

″People ask me how I can stand this job, doing the same thing every day,″ she said. ″But they’re wrong. It isn’t the same everyday. Each person that comes through the line is different. That makes every day different.″

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