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Burning Desire Sparks Interest in Float

April 24, 1987|Ann Japenga

Ken Vrana wants to pay back a boyhood debt. As a child growing up in a small town in New York, what most excited his sense of drama was the heroics of the volunteer fire department. "We lived directly across from the firehouse," Vrana said. "From as early as I can remember, I was fascinated with the place."

Now a 40-year-old Los Angeles film producer, Vrana hopes to create a Tournament of Roses float to honor the nation's firefighters. The float, slated to roll in 1989--the 100th Rose Bowl Parade--will feature 14 firefighters from departments around the country that have helped to raise the $75,000-$150,000 needed to build the float.

"This is nickels and dimes at a time," Vrana said of the fund-raising process. A large Connecticut firehouse sent $800; $17.95 came from a small outfit in South Texas.

Donations are also coming in from non-firefighters. Vrana said one woman sent $100 and pledged another $25 a month till the goal is met because her local fire department saved her husband's life.

It's a bigger project than Vrana ever anticipated, but he's cheerful about all the work ahead. "It gives me something that I don't get out of the (film) business," he said.

For more information about the Fire Float, write Vrana at 14612 Saticoy St., Suite 4, Van Nuys, Calif. 91405


As a volunteer for the Pasadena YWCA Rape Crisis Center, Nancy Caullay wants men to get the message that it's not OK to touch a woman without her permission. But ABC's "Eye on L.A." is giving the public the opposite message in advertisements for the show's planned 3-D Swimsuit Spectacular, Caullay said.

A 25-year-old office manager in Pasadena, Caullay has launched a one-woman campaign against the show Thursday. She objects to the use of special 3-D glasses for the broadcast coupled with the slogan "Reach out and touch Someone."

"It's bad enough you have to look at monsters in 3-D, much less women in bikinis," said Caullay, who is married and has a 9-year-old daughter.

Caullay is distributing literature to women's groups and writing letters to ABC and the producers of "Eye on L.A." The segment, she said, "further objectifies women as something you can reach out and touch. The message the 'Eye on L.A.' ads give is: She's an object. It's OK to grab her or hurt her because she's just an object."

Bob Burris, promotion director for KABC, said his department plans to re-evaluate the ad campaign. "We certainly don't want to encourage that (rape) in any way, shape or form," he said. "We don't want to offend anybody with this thing."

Portraits of Bugs and Plants

First it was missions and buildings, then she graduated to landscapes, and eventually she fixated on bugs and small plants. "I always could sit down and just draw things," said Canyon Country resident Frances Runyan, 72.

During the years she was rearing her three children, Runyan never thought this talent for drawing tiny organisms would ever amount to much. But after the kids were "up and away," she volunteered as a docent at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. There Runyan found others who appreciated a portrait of an isopod as much as she did.

Working at the museum over the next 23 years, the self-taught artist developed into a sought-after illustrator for scientific books and journals. Now an exhibit of her illustrations from the fields of paleontology, archeology, entomology and marine biology will appear at the Natural History Museum from May 16 to Aug. 16.

A microscope and a meticulous eye are as much a part of Runyan's tool box as her pens and watercolors. To render a fungus, for instance, Runyan stares into a high-powered microscope to capture the intricate internal structure. When she tackles a fish, she counts the scales on the real thing and draws the same number on her reproduction.

Runyan continues to enjoy this career begun late in her life. She still draws and teaches a popular class in scientific illustration at the museum.

A Tribute in 'Voices of a Sit-In'

During the years 1959 to 1963, Palms resident Angeline Butler spent quite a bit of time in jail as a result of her participation in the sit-ins of the student civil rights movement in Nashville, Tenn.

Those were trying times. On occasion, one of Butler's cohorts would became frustrated and suggest that violence might be a quicker way to get justice. But there was a "guiding light" that kept Butler and other members of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee on a peaceful track. Her name was Septima Poinsette Clark. And Clark unwaveringly inspired nonviolence.

She organized literacy programs for rural blacks throughout the South and encouraged more than 250,000 blacks to register to vote.

Butler, now an actress and singer, is honoring Clark with her production of a play called "Voices of a Sit-In," which will be performed next Friday and May 2 and 3 at the Church in Ocean Park. (Call (213) 399-1631 for reservations and times.)

Clark, 89, is still speaking up for civil rights in her hometown of Charleston, S. C. And since a visit to Southern California last year, the activist has developed a following here, too. "I have quite an itinerary (planned) for her," Butler said.

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