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Bright and Brief

March 29, 1985

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) _ Figuring there must be a good story - maybe a juicy tale of romance or seedy saga of a shark attack - behind the 1949 high school class ring she found in the surf, Debbie Witek tracked the owner down.

But Ms. Witek found Carolyn Thompson Young, and the ring had merely slipped off her finger and into the Atlantic 27 years ago during a family outing at North Myrtle Beach, S.C.

But there was a tale of sorrow.

Mrs. Young sat down and cried when she lost the ring. She had worked for $3 a day at Woolworth’s to buy the $17.50 Paw Creek High School Class of ’49 ring.

″It felt so important to me,″ she said. ″I wore it on my left hand until I got married. Then I wore it on my right.″

Mrs. Young of Paw Creek had the ring back on her finger Thursday, five months after Ms. Witek, of Cleveland, Ohio, plucked it from the surf.

″I wanted to know how it was whoever lost this ring,″ Ms. Witek said. ″Maybe she was on a boat and got eaten by a shark. Maybe she was going steady with someone and he threw it in the water. Maybe he gave it the old heave ho.″

So she pored over an atlas and wrote to the high school. Paw Creek postal clerk Fay Wingate realized someone was trying to reach a school that closed years ago in Paw Creek, north of Charlotte.

Ms. Wingate found a 1949 Paw Creek yearbook, and under the Ts was Carolyn Sue Thompson. Ms. Wingate arranged contact between Mrs. Young and Ms. Witek.


TACOMA, Wash. (AP) - Here’s some advice from the West Coast Whale Research Foundation on what to do when a 40-foot gray whale with an itch nuzzles your boat: Let it.

Ship-rubbing once was thought to be confined to a few gray whales off the coast of Mexico but seems to be becoming more popular among the giant ocean mammals, Jim Darling of the foundation said this week at a forum sponsored by the Tacoma Zoo Society.

″We don’t know what this new behavior means,″ he said, ″but not too many wild animals have benefited from such close contact with man.

″While the gray whales are still being hunted, they could wander up to the wrong boat. Can you imagine what it would be like with 17,000 gray whales looking for a boat to rub on?″

Historically, gray whales were not the favorite prey of whalers because being stuck with a harpoon often angered them and they would turn on the ships, he said.

″So, as a warning,″ Darling said, ″if you’re out in Puget Sound and one of these gray whales comes up to your boat, let him do whatever he wants.″


CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - The state Senate wanted to send the Soviets a message, but the language barrier caused a bit of confusion during voting on a bill that would bar the sale of Soviet vodka.

Senate Republican Leader John Stabile’s ″nyet″ vote on a motion to kill the bill was mistakenly recorded as a ″yes″ at first.

Another senator referred to the famed vodka Stolichnaya as Solzhenitsyn, the last name of a well-known Soviet emigre who now lives in Vermont.

Nevertheless, the bill passed the Senate by a voice vote. The confusing votes came as the Senate considered a motion to kill the bill.

Sen. Mark Hounsell originally proposed a ban on all liquor from communist countries, but the bill was amended in committee to cover only Soviet vodka.

The bill, Hounsell said, would ″send a clear message to whoever might hear it that we do not expect to do business with peopple who enslave other people.″

But Sen. William Johnson suggested returning to Hounsell’s original bill.

″What we’re doing now is sending a whisper,″ he said. ″If we want to send a message, let’s send one.″

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