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This House Auction Is for Small-Time Investors Only

March 04, 1987|DEBORAH CHRISTENSEN

--For sale: 19th-Century farmhouse with stables, two gazebos, smokehouse, water pump, outhouse, chicken coop, farm animals and implements. Asking price: $3,000-$4,000. The catch: It's less than 46 inches tall. The farmhouse is one of 40 doll houses owned by Mary B. Rhoads of Lancaster, Pa., that were put on the auction block at Christie's East in New York. Rhoads began collecting doll houses 20 years ago when her first granddaughter was 4 years old. As more grandchildren came along--four more of them girls--the doll houses "grew into one village and then another village, and soon I had a whole room full," she said. Her collection included an 1890 Victorian mansion and a miniature antique shop. She bought the doll houses at antique stores around the world and painstakingly furnished them herself. She decided to part with them because she and her husband are moving to a smaller home--no, not that small.

--To put it bluntly, Arthur Berger is "waiting for people to die." Berger, head of the Survival Research Foundation in Pembroke Pines, Fla., is hoping to prove whether there is life after death. To that end, 100 people have signed up for his study, which can't be concluded while they're still alive. Participants have devised messages that can be deciphered only if they are contacted after they die to give out the top-secret decoder keys. So far, only one participant, psychology professor Robert Thouless, has died, and the two messages he left remain a mystery. Escape artist Harry Houdini also reportedly prepared a coded message before his death in 1926 and was to contact his wife from the hereafter with the decoder key. But despite years of seances, the great Houdini has remained silent.

--It took three men, two ladders, a rowboat and an inner tube, but they finally rescued Rudie the dog from the Pend Oreille River in Dover, Ida. Rudie, part black Labrador retriever and part German shepherd, took an unexpected swim when he ran onto the ice-covered river and the ice gave way. Jeff Wilder spotted the struggling animal and grabbed an inner tube. As he slid over the ice on the tube, he also broke through. Then Mitch Davenport pushed an aluminum rowboat over the ice and hauled Wilder and Rudie aboard. But then the boat wouldn't move. Next on the scene was Sandpoint Fire Department Capt. Ken Lunde, who used two ladders like a pair of enormous snowshoes to walk across the ice. He tossed a rope to Davenport, and a group of firefighters on the shore finally pulled everyone to safety.

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