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Good Readers Find Payoff at Special Auction

June 12, 1986|ROY H. CAMPBELL | Times Staff Writer

The bidding was hot and heavy as auctioneer Jan Bendis whizzed through a variety of celebrity items, from Elizabeth Taylor's tote bag to a script of the Grammy Awards signed by country music performer Kenny Rogers.

The bidders competed fiercely for each of the 148 items donated by businesses and the rich and famous, driving the price of an original Cabbage Patch Kid up to $550.

But, although Bendis was a professional, this was not your ordinary auction. To the contrary, the 24 bidders were sixth-grade students at Monte Vista Elementary School in La Crescenta. The students had earned play money credited to make-believe checking accounts for reading books during the school year. The auction was their chance to spend their windfall "profits."

Wide-Ranging Appetite

The students read everything from Starfire romances and tales of romantic adventures in exotic historical settings to Encylopedia Brown mysteries, which chronicle the deeds of a boy detective. The students were credited with $15 per 100 pages, said teacher Roberta Kaplan.

Kaplan wrote to the businesses and celebrities, asking for items for last Friday's three-hour auction.

The students had to write checks and keep track of their balances.

Most decided to bring along mom and dad to help, or just to watch their kids have fun. Bobby Dailey, 12, was accompanied by his father, Craig, who works as a financial analyst for General Dynamics Inc.

"He's learning how to think fast, but I thought I'd help him spend his money better," Craig Dailey said.

Michelle Goldstein, who had the most play money--$3,700--bought so many items that her mother, Cathy Wortmann, had to return with the family van to haul the bounty home.

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