NICKERSON, Kan. (AP) _ It took a while, but a Christmas card mailed in 1965 has finally reached its destination.

''I couldn't believe my eyes,'' said Betty Smith, who found the card Friday while she was sorting through her mail. ''What if this was something important? It could have been medical records. A check.''

Her daughter Tawnya, 19, picked up the mail at the post office. The card was from Mrs. Smith's stepmother and was addressed to Mrs. Smith, her husband, Curtis - who died this April - and their two sons.

The postmark indicates it was mailed Dec. 5, 1965, from Salem, Ore.

There are no cancellations on the envelope to indicate it was sent to the wrong post office or was lost in post office equipment.

Karen Lovelock, a postal clerk, says that as far as she knows, the card was delivered on time. It either had the wrong box number on it, or was put in the wrong post office box, she said.

A woman returned the card to the post office earlier that day, Ms. Lovelock said.

''The lady that brought it in said she was going through some of her stuff and found it,'' Ms. Lovelock said. ''I just assume she had it that long.''

It wasn't the postal service that lost the letter, she said, adding, ''This is one we didn't do.''

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) - For many prospective alligator hunters, their first close encounter with their prey was in a hotel conference room.

A five-foot gator in the Gainesville Hilton on Thursday was the main attraction of the initial six-hour training session for some of the 238 people awarded licenses to participate in Florida's first alligator season since 1962.

State alligator trapper Dave Mattox entered the hotel carrying his wild and kicking catch wrapped in burlap, its jaw fastened shut with duct tape, as 70 hunters and spectators watched with gaping mouths.

''I'm going to explain now how I catch a gator,'' said Mattox, who spent two hours describing how to freeze the animal's attention with light, harpoon it, noose it, axe its spinal cord and drag it into the boat.

Hunters will be allowed to kill 15 alligators apiece during September in 28 areas designated by the Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission.

Mattox unfurled his gator, rolled him out on the carpet, and snipped off the tape holding its jaws together to give viewers a glimpse of what they'll be up against.

Prospective hunter Richard King enjoyed the day's lesson, the only training he'll get.

''I believe in OJT - on-the-job training,'' King said.

It was not the first time an alligator made its way inside the hotel.

Last year, a maid cleaning a bathtub found a baby alligator that a guest brought in from the parking lot. Three years ago, hotel officials found another gator lounging in the swimming pool.