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Teen-Age Transplant Patient Meets Her Heartthrob

March 09, 1986|JAMES MARNELL

--The ninth-grader stepped into teen idol Michael Jackson's limousine and then walked away with the dream of a lifetime. Donna Ashlock, 14, who got a new chance at life with the transplanted heart of her ex-boyfriend, Felipe Garza, 15, on Jan. 5, arrived at Los Angeles International Airport Saturday from Patterson, Calif., for her meeting at Jackson's home in Encino. "I still don't believe it," said Donna, who's already met with President Reagan in the Oval Office. Jackson had read about Donna's struggle for life and invited the teen-ager and her mother, Mary, to visit him, Norm Winters, a spokesman for Jackson, said. Winters said they were to see a movie in the singer's private theater, have lunch, play some records and visit his backyard menagerie that includes such pets as "Louie the Llama" and "Muscles," a boa constrictor.

--To some, movies are the stuff dreams are made of. Fifty years ago, Jesse Rush of Guntersville, Ala., was so fascinated by Gene Autry in "Red River Valley" that he has devoted most of his time since then rounding up cowboy memorabilia. Rush, now 64, has turned his cowpoke passion, which includes items ranging from hundreds of Western movies to a ranch hand's lunch box, into the Cowboy Museum, which opened Saturday in Boaz, Ala. Autry sidekick Pat Buttram was on hand for the opening festivities. "He (Autry) was my idol," said Rush, a retired contractor. "I bought his records, my mother bought me a guitar and I've been collecting things ever since." He's even installed a 25-seat theater, complete with popcorn machine. Rush said he also has tapes of most of Autry's 500 "Melody Ranch" radio shows, aired between 1940 and 1956. Still, Rush longs for the white hat-black hat days represented by the museum. "I feel like we've lost something over the years," he said. "If children will watch the movies, they will learn something from them, that people stood for right and wrong, and right always won. Kids don't have heroes like we used to."

--The woman thought she had a point. Her daughter's marriage was a disaster, anD she wanted to know if the IRS could possibly classify it as a casualty loss. To Holger Euringer, public affairs officer for the Jacksonville IRS district office in Florida, the woman's point was much ado about nothing. Euringer said that his office each year answers thousands of taxpayer questions, some sensible, some otherwise. A goldfish dealer, he said, wanted to know if he should retain the corpse of a fish as proof of a loss. Euringer said the man was told that it would be neither necessary nor advisable.

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