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Infamous Car to Race Across Country

April 03, 1987|the View staff

When Ginni Withers first climbed into the driver's seat of a 1934 Ford that was reputed to be the car in which gangsters Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were gunned down, she found it, she says now, "eerie" and "sinister."

But she's overcome those feelings and, on June 30, Withers will take the wheel of the V-8 sedan, driving it--167 bullet holes and all--in a cross-country antique car race from Disneyland in Anaheim to Walt Disney World outside Orlando, Fla. Withers, office manager at a Fountain Valley garage, said she will use her entry to emphasize the theme: "Crime does not pay."

Withers said she found out about the car from a friend, Clyde Wade, a Reno, Nev., antique auto collector who owns it and claims to have documentation proving the auto is the one in which the notorious gangsters were annihilated by lawmen at the end of a multi-state crime spree. The end came for the pair on May 23, 1934, at a roadblock near Gibsland, La. "It has been authenticated," Withers said, "and all the bullet holes match up."

"The first couple times I had an opportunity to get in the car, I didn't even really want to drive it," Withers said. Eventually, though, she got used to the idea and recognized, she said, that the Ford's original V-8 is still a powerful engine that would afford the Bonnie and Clyde entry a chance of winning the Great American Race.

True, part of the windshield is still shot out, and the car has a decidedly damaged look. Even though Withers said all the blood stains in the car's interior have long since faded, she plans to cover the upholstery with plastic seat covers to preserve it. And she's achieved a different perspective on the car.

"It's taken on a different flavor for me," she said. "I see it not as a sinister car but as an opportunity to get a good message across."

Drama in Schools

One Friday afternoon, a visiting theater arts instructor asked members of a high school drama class to close their eyes and re-create the appearance, taste and smell of a favorite hamburger, french fries and soda pop meal.

When the instructor, Ron Husmann, instructed the students to open their eyes, he asked: "How many people were salivating?" More than half of them raised their hands. It was just one exercise in a workshop program Husmann developed two years ago to interest high school students in drama and in their own dramatic abilities. An instructor at Cal State L.A., Husmann began visiting Los Angeles high schools to give short presentations.

"We found that as we went out to some of these schools, especially the minority schools in some of the less affluent areas, they didn't have theater programs and were hungry for this sort of thing," Husmann said. "We were able to stimulate the kids."

For 16-year-old Lana Williams, the workshop stirred up a previously unrecognized talent and fascination with all aspects of theater. She enrolled in an acting class for high school students also run by Husmann and became an apprentice in a community theater group. Now, she said, she plans a career in directing, play writing or producing.

"I think he was an excellent teacher," she said of Husmann. "He taught us to be ourselves in our acting and make (it) as close as possible to remembering certain experiences and to use those while acting out a part."

Husmann said he began acting on Broadway when he was 21. Now 49, he makes television appearances and continues his program to bring real drama into the lives of local high school students.

Yogurt Entrepreneur

A prominent distillery has recognized a Laguna Hills woman who started a chain of franchise yogurt shops as one of the nation's top half-dozen young entrepreneurs.

Awards recognizing "Chivas Regal Young Entrepreneurs" were given out in Washington earlier this week. Among the six winners was Heidi Miller, founder and operator of Heidi's Frogen Yozurt Shoppes Inc. Other winners included a Boulder, Colo., seminar producer, a Miami water sports retailer, a Chicago sales executive, a San Francisco computer work-station maker and a Boston home health care service operator.

Miller, 32, said that, after a bootstraps beginning in Orange County, her firm now owns seven yogurt shops, has 44 franchised outlets in operation and has sold franchises for another 90 locations. "I'm delighted that Heidi's Frogen Yozurt has been successful," said Miller, who's also a gymnast and body builder. "When I get to 500 stores, I'll be ready to sell out to a larger company. But I won't stop being an entrepreneur."

Cycling for a Benefit

Former Olympic bicycling gold medalist Connie Carpenter-Phinney plans to take her personal crusade against multiple sclerosis--a disease her mother contracted at age 29--on a special cycling tour from Ontario to Rancho California later this month. The event is intended as a benefit for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

The tour, on the weekend of April 25 and 26, will include a 100-mile jaunt from the Compri Hotel at the Ontario Airport to the Rancho California Information Center. Cyclists will be bused backed to Ontario.

Participants will pay a $25 entry fee and will be asked to raise $150 in donations.

Carpenter-Phinney, who is married to a competitive cyclist, said she hopes to appear with her mother in a multiple sclerosis television spot later this year.

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