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Sightless Guide Helps Museum Visitors See the Light

July 09, 1987|DAVE JOHNSON

Glaucoma sufferer Jimmie Luckett cannot see the black history exhibits at Chicago's DuSable Museum of African-American history, but he knows them all by heart. He has to--he's a tour guide. Luckett wears thick glasses but has lost 95% of his sight. Still, he describes the displays so vividly, even pointing out individual items, that he says some visitors "have no idea that I can't see. Sometimes I tell 'em and sometimes I don't." If Luckett steadies himself against a doorway or wall, visitors often attribute it to his 76 years, not his blindness. "He's a storehouse of information, and he's willing to share it with everyone," said Marion Thomas, a museum receptionist and tour guide. Margaret T. Burroughs, founder of the museum, offered him a job as a part-time volunteer guide in 1981 after he asked to help out there. He learns the exhibits through tape-recorded explanations and descriptions. Luckett had become a frequent visitor to the museum after he lost his sight and had to give up his job as a film projectionist.

--Sam the chimpanzee is going home to the wild life of his owner's tavern in Lebanon, Ohio. Sam had been confiscated after Humane Society officials said the beer-drinking, cigarette-smoking chimp was being abused, but a judge ruled that he can belly back up to the bar. Tavern owner Kenneth Harris planned a party and hung a "Welcome Home" sign on Sam's cage. But Harris said he "probably won't" allow Sam to resume smoking and drinking. "I've been cutting him down some," he said. Harris' attorney, James Sheets, said he was contacting Humane Society lawyers to determine when Sam can be returned. A jury acquitted Harris of abuse on June 13. The Humane Society then filed a lawsuit, and the chimp had been held under a temporary restraining order. The society had no comment on whether it would appeal.

--After next year, America cannot rib the national pork queen. Even the hog industry says the title has lost some of its allure. "The queen program is no longer appropriate for the times we're in," said Marjorie Ocheltree, the program's coordinator. Maybe the jokes were wearing thin. ". . . When you get to metropolitan areas, it gets derogatory," Ocheltree said, because the common image is of a stocky woman. "Sometimes it got nasty," said the reigning pork queen, 19-year-old Karine Boyum, daughter of a Hayfield, Minn., hog farmer. The National Pork Producers Council plans a new program for national recognition of young men and women. A few states will continue to elect their own queens.

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