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On The Light Side

November 27, 1987

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ ’Tis the season to be grossed out.

Freckle-faced Raggedy Ann and Andy face competition this Christmas from Amtoy’s new line of monster-head toys with exposed eyeballs and brains and Madballs Touchdown Terror footballs with mossy teeth and bloodshot eyes.

″Squeeze Sammy Sneeze. Alien blood pours from his nose,″ reads the label on a plastic toy that simulates a nose bleed when snuggled by a child.

The old chemistry set has come a long way too. The Mad Scientist Monster Lab Playset for $18.99 provides everything a child needs to mold clay monster flesh and then dissolve it in a vat of sizzling ″secret froth.″

″Psychologists have said that gross toys help children work out their fears of the unknown,″ said Candace Irving, manager of marketing and public relations for Mattel, manufacturer of the toy.

But other toy experts, including Stevanne Auerbach, a child psychologist and director of the San Francisco Toy Museum, contend ugly toys make a scary world more so.

″I think the world itself is frightening enough without perpetuating fear,″ she said. ″Kids like to gross parents out. That’s fun. But there’s a level of gross that goes beyond good taste.″

Auerbach recommends parents choose toys such as Teddy bears and Raggedy Ann dolls, based on unmutilated, unmutated Earth creatures.


SUNOL, Calif. (AP) - Volunteers in this community spent part of their Thanksgiving putting up ″wanted posters″ for their missing mayor, asking people to ″be on the lookout for our friend and leader.″

Mayor Bosco was described as a black Labrador retriever who weighs about 70 pounds and has ″an alert face.″

Some residents of Sunol, 45 miles east of San Francisco, suspect foul play. Others think an affair of the heart may be involved.

″Besides being the mayor, he’s also the town treasure,″ said Pat Stillman, whose son, Tom, oversees the dog.

″My son is so upset he spent the whole day out looking for him and hasn’t even come over here for Thanksgiving dinner,″ she said Thursday.

This is not the first time the dog has vanished.

A year ago, Stillman said an unidentified person in nearby Fremont locked the wandering dog in a garage. After residents put up a fuss, the dog was dropped off on Sunol’s main street the day after Thanksgiving.

Then there was the time Bosco took an unexpected excursion to Oregon.

He fell asleep in the back of a pickup. Fortunately, the truck belonged to Stillman’s friend, who didn’t discover Bosco until he stopped for gas near the Oregon border.

Then there have been the numerous jaunts with female companions.

″It’s pretty unusual for Bosco to be gone this long,″ said Tom Stillman. ″Sometimes he sees a female dog around town that he likes. But he’s usually back in a couple of days.″

Bosco beat out two human candidates eight years ago. Residents of the unincorporated community said they felt no further elections were necessary.

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