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On the Light Side

March 3, 1989

WEST FARGO, N.D. (AP) _ An 11-year-old girl who abstained from watching television for a year will receive a $500 reward from her father, although he’s not sure the whole thing was a good idea.

Rhonda Gruber’s no-TV year is up, and her father, Victor, is glad it’s over. He said it split up the family.

″If we were watching TV as a family, she wasn’t part of the family; she was in another room reading a book or something,″ he said recently.

Rhonda, who is in a gifted-student program at West Fargo South Elementary School, spent the year reading. In fact, she won a summer reading program at the local library after plowing through 11,000 pages of text.

She said she became used to not watching television, but insisted the boycott won’t continue.

Asked what she would watch for her inaugural program, she said, ″The first thing that’s on. I think I’ll watch a lot.″

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WARNER ROBINS, Ga. (AP) - A cellular telephone salesman who found a note that a honeymooning couple tossed into the Atlantic Ocean more than two years ago turned the belated discovery into a sales pitch.

Responding to the note, salesman Marc Estrade wrote, ″Your note on SS Emerald Seas stationery was found Feb. 12, 1989, on Timothy Beach, St. Kitts. Next time, rent one of our cellular phones. They’re far more reliable.″

Mike and Kim Harnage of Warner Robins were honeymooning on a cruise ship when they put a note in a bottle and threw it into the ocean Nov. 5, 1986.

Two years of marriage and the recent birth of their daughter had put the bottled message far in the back of the Harnages’ minds. But after getting a postcard from Estrade on Feb. 20, the couple was eager to talk with him.

″I feel a lot better after talking to the guy,″ said Harnage, who reached Estrade by telephone Wednesday. Estrade, who lives on St. Kitts, told him the note was brittle and the bottle was covered with barnacles.

There was no immediate word, however, on whether the Harnages would take Estrade up on his phone offer.

Estrade made the discovery as he was walking on a beach. St. Kitts is about 100 miles from the U.S. Virgin Islands and east of Puerto Rico.

″I found it kind of ironic that I would find this primitive form of communication when I work with state-of-the art equipment,″ Estrade said in a telephone interview.

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