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Top Hopper Is Just Rolling Along

March 17, 1986|JENNINGS PARROTT

--The unofficial world's champion underwater pogo stick jumper--3,303 jumps in 8 1/2 feet of water--said he's not ready to sit back and savor his fame. "The end of March, I plan to somersault Paul Revere's ride," he said. "I've always been inspired by Paul Revere." Talk of 12.98 miles of somersaulting along the path Revere took to warn the Massachusetts countryside that the redcoats were coming would be idle in some quarters. But Ashrita Furman is serious. He already holds Guinness records for somersaulting, hand clapping, milk-bottle balancing, stretcher-bearing and wreath-making. Furman, 32, a health food store manager in Queens, jumped underwater on a pogo stick for 3 hours and 20 minutes in a YMCA pool. He wore a weight belt, mask and snorkel and breathed when he broke the surface of the water with each jump. "Everything like is in slow motion. It's like anti-gravity almost," he said. "The whole thing was a total experiment. It's sort of like addicting. I just can't wait to get in the water and do it again."

--In the Greenbelt, Md., countryside, in a clearing near a cluster of rockets that symbolize America's presence in space, a small rocket was shot 50 feet into the air to honor the man who started it all. The flight lasted 2 1/2 seconds, about as long as the one on March 16, 1926, when Robert Hutchins Goddard sent the first liquid-fuel rocket to a height of 41 feet at a speed of about 60 m.p.h. That event was a milestone comparable in significance to the first manned flight by the Wright brothers. Sunday's 60th anniversary observance was at the Goddard Space Flight Center, named, appropriately, for the father of modern rocketry. "He was a man who was able to take a dream and turn it into reality," a crowd of about 1,000, predominantly children, was told by Leonard Arnowitz, chief of the special payloads division at the space center. In World War II, Goddard helped develop jet-assisted takeoff for airplanes and liquid propellant rocket motors capable of variable thrust. He died Aug. 10, 1945, four days after the first atomic bomb was dropped on Japan.

--Hundreds of examples of American pop culture, including original comic strips and magazine illustrations, were auctioned in New York over the weekend to aficionados of "Terry and the Pirates," "Doonesbury," "Pogo" and the like. Some buyers paid about $400 each for Watergate-era "Doonesbury" strips by Garry Trudeau, while others dueled their way to $34,000 for an original oil illustration by Joseph C. Leyendecker used to sell Arrow shirts around 1924. The two-day auction offered 4,000 original works, including drawings of the "Yellow Kid," the country's first successful comic; scarce drawings by Walt Kelly of "Pogo" fame, and works by "Terry and the Pirates" by artist Milton Caniff.

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