Cousins Marie Pierre, 14, and Filiane Gaulin, 9, were somewhat vague when they called an uncle in Miami's Little Haiti to ease his fears over their three-day absence. They explained that they had been blindfolded, forced into a car and driven to a strange city by kidnapers. They said they weren't sure whether they were in Jackson or Jacksonville.
Neither, as it turned out. Miami Juvenile Officer Rosa Rowe says they joined the thousands of runaways who each year come to Los Angeles. They had fled because Marie feared parental punishment for something she didn't do and because she wanted to see a movie star.
What the girls actually saw for two days and nights, while there was a panicky search for them in Florida, was the inside of the Greyhound bus station at 5th and Main Streets.
When Marie called the frantic uncle again on Sunday, he followed Rowe's instruction and asked the girl to read him the number on the pay phone so it could be traced.
Los Angeles officers did not have far to go to end this runaway case before it became as grim as others they have seen. The Greyhound station is virtually across the street from the Central Division police station.
Whittier officials were "a little irritated," in the words of City Manager Thomas G. Mauk, when they heard that busloads of sightseers were circling the downtown earthquake damage area. They identified the charter bus firm involved as Safeway Lines & Tour Co.
Not so, insists Duane Strausman, who heads charters and tours for Safeway. "We've had people"--including a German choir--"who want to go over there, but I think it's rather morbid. We don't run any tour as a special earthquake-looking thing."
A possible explanation, adds Strausman, is that the folks in Whittier may have seen an occasional Safeway bus picking up senior citizens or some other charter group in the area to take them somewhere.
"I suppose that's conceivable," responds Mauk. "At least I hope that's the case."
As one might suspect, it isn't cheap to put a float in the Tournament of Roses parade. Indeed, the cost is prohibitive for the average citizen. So the Glendale-based California Bicentennial Foundation for the U.S. Constitution will allow you to sponsor a single rose on its float for a mere $10 (tax deductible).
Spokesman Ray Kabaker initially said "a jillion" roses will make up the two 55-foot American flags on the foundation's float, which would mean quite a lot of money. Pressed, he said it was more like 200,000--give or take a rose or two. Although a $10 sponsor won't get to sit on the float in a bikini and wave to the crowd along Colorado Boulevard next New Year's Day, he or she will be identified on a donor scroll, get a commemorative lapel pin, a sponsorship certificate and a pocket copy of the U.S. Constitution.
One family of 19 already has sent in its $190.
Which leaves . . .
Burton Arrington, a member of the Los Angeles County Commission on Obscenity and Pornography, says he is not altogether happy with Pacific Telephone's proposal that customers be allowed to have their access to unwanted "976" numbers blocked at central phone offices so children can't listen to Dial-a-Porn or teen-agers can't run up the bill for hours on a rap line.
What bothers Arrington is the $5 fee a telephone subscriber would be charged for the cutoff.
"Why," he wants to know, "should I have to pay so that this crap is not available to my grandchildren? Why pay to have the phone company block out something we don't want anyway?"
Pacific Telephone spokesman Lou Saviano replies that the $5 fee, which was authorized by the state Legislature in the measure requiring that blocking be provided, does not nearly cover the estimated $20 cost per customer. The rest of the expense, he says, is to be borne by the "976" outfits--as soon as the state Public Utilities Commission can settle on a formula.
Arrington, by the way, says he has heard some of those porn messages.
But only during meetings on how to get rid of them.