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On The Light Side

April 30, 1988

FREDONIA, N.Y. (AP) _ If you’re crazy like a duck and don’t mind cigar smoke, harp music and horns there’s only one place to be today - Fredonia.

That’s Fredonia with one ″e″ as in this western New York college town and not Freedonia with two ″E’s″ as in the mythical kingdom of Freedonia that served as the setting for the Marx Brothers’ 1933 movie ″Duck Soup.″

If that seems confusing, think how confused Mayor Harry B. Hickey must have been in 1933 when he sent a letter to Paramount Pictures complaining about the studio’s ″intentions in using the name of our city in your picture″ and got back the following reply from the Marx Brothers themselves:

″Your excellency. Our advice is that you change the name of your town. It is hurting our picture. What makes you think you are mayor of Fredonia? Do you wear a black moustache, play the harp, speak with an Italian accent or chase girls like Harpo? We are certain you do not. Therefore, we must be the mayor of Fredonia, not you.″

Fredonia today celebrates the second annual ″Freedonia Marxonia Film Festival and Symposium.″

Several hundred people wearing Groucho glasses and noses are expected at Fredonia State College for a group picture in the afternoon. But that’s not all.

There will be a speech by Marx Brothers expert Paul G. Wesolowski and a duck soup recipe competition. The local Post Office will cancel stamps with a mark that shows Groucho, Harpo and Chico and has the extra ″e″ in Fredonia.

Postmaster Robert Kaus says he’s gotten about 150 requests for the cancellation, some from as far away as Belgium, Italy, and the Soviet Union.


DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) - Twelve-year-old Steven Young was just doodling with a pencil at his desk, but his teacher thought the drawings could be put to use.

Steven wound up having lunch with a group of auto executives who said his classroom doodles showed promise for a dual-spring suspension system for heavy-duty vehicles.

His seventh-grade teacher, Sandra Hefner, and Honeysuckle Middle School principal Sam Nichols turned to local engineers at Michelin Tire Corp. for guidance on the drawings.

The company invited all three to lunch Thursday where they discussed the possible uses of the youngster’s design.

Dan Conn, an engineer for Michelin, said the design probably is over- engineered for an ordinary passenger car, but it might enhance the performance of a heavy-duty vehicle or racing car needing extra strength.

Steven’s father, Jeffery Young, is an engineer at Great Southern Paper Co. and his mother, Kathy Young, is a kindergarten teacher. They said he’s always wanted to know how things work.


TULSA, Okla. (AP) - Old planning boards don’t die - or apparently fade away either. That’s what members of the Regional Solid Waste Planning Board are discovering.

Some members believe the board has served its purpose and should be disbanded. But officials say they can’t get enough people together for a quorum to officially close up shop.

″I’m just tired of meeting here every few months to find out we can’t do anything,″ said Roy Jones, board vice chairman. ″The board is well on its way to melting away. It should be terminated with the same dignity as it was formed.″

The board, with representatives from communities in the Tulsa area, was one member short of a quorum at its meeting Thursday. Only 16 of 60 board members attended the previous meeting in February.

The board was formed in 1986 to investigate the area’s solid waste situation and propose sites for landfills.

″This conceivably could go on forever, if enough member communities play the game of not attending meetings, but not resigning,″ said Marilyn Hinkle, board chairman.

The board will try to meet again, probably in September, with disbanding on the agenda, she said.

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