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On The Light Side

April 1, 1987

AMHERST, Mass. (AP) _ Sixty spotted salamanders held up traffic on Henry Street for several hours. There were no arrests.

Town officials, in fact, had given permission for a roadblock to let the salamanders safely make their annual trek from their home in the woods to their breeding grounds across the street.

Volunteers used flares and signs to stop traffic for several hours Monday night, when a spring rain made it moist enough for the amphibians to make the trip. Some volunteers picked up salamanders and carried them across the road.

Selectman Chairman Richard Minear and Selectwoman Judy Brooks, who were on hand, said they expect the road blockade will become an annual event.

″Anything we can do that doesn’t cost anything and helps out the community has got to be a good idea,″ Brooks said.

″But really,″ he said, ″a friend of mine summed it up the other day by saying that Amherst is becoming a city, and doing something like this reminds you that it is still a town.″


AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Some Maine residents simply don’t want to be associated with a greenish crustacean that has antennas and turns bright red just before dinner.

But the state House isn’t sympathetic. The chamber voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to reject a bill that would let motorists opt for plain license plates instead of the state’s new plates, which have a lobster logo and are to be phased in starting July 1.

The plain-plate bill’s sponsor, Rep. Mary H. MacBride, from potato-growing Presque Isle, argued that the lobster represents only a small portion of the state.

Opponents of the bill cited the estimated $800,000 startup costs of manufacturing unadorned plates and noted that the state already has spent that much on materials needed to produce the lobster plates.


SANTA CRUZ, Calif, (AP) - The bad news is that the 1987 cost of laughing index rose 6.5 percent, boosted in part by a jump in the prices of rubber chickens, comedy clubs and humor magazines.

″I think it’s outrageous,″ said Malcolm Kushner, who compiled the index. ″But the good news is there’s a lot of free comedy coming out of Washington these days. That offsets it.″

The index measures the annual price change in comedy club tickets, novelty items, humor magazines, musicals, singing telegrams and screenwriting fees, said Kushner, a former attorney who lectures and works as a consultant, teaching people how they can work humor into presentations.

According to his research:

-Comedy club tickets increased an average of 10.5 percent.

-There was an 8 percent increase in the single issue newsstand price of Mad Magazine.

-There was no increase in the wholesale price of Groucho glasses and arrow- through-the-head gags.


CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Looking for the road less traveled by?

Try U.S. 50 between Ely and Fernley, which the state Senate voted Tuesday to designate the ″loneliest road in America.″

When Life magazine last year described the highway stretching east to west across rural Nevada as the nation’s most desolate, state tourism officials seized upon the opportunity to get some publicity out of the designation.

The legislation, which went to the governor for his signature, augments that effort by requiring the state Department of Transportation to place markers along the highway.

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