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A Reunion Becomes a Farewell

December 04, 1987|JAMES MARNELL

Family reunions are usually joyous occasions. Not so for Charlie Dieterle, 37, of Boulder, Colo., who for the first time was reunited with his mother--one day after she died. Virginia Meeker, 52, of Greeley, Colo., had spent a year and a half looking for her son Charlie and daughter, Karla Brown, 33, of Tucson. She died of pneumonia three days after meeting Karla. "She was very happy," Karla said. "She couldn't wait for Christmas to get here. She'd already done her Christmas shopping. Her husband (Virginia married Robert Meeker 23 years ago) said whenever she talked with me on the phone, her heart would just be lifted up." Through a relative, Karla, who also had not seen her brother, eventually made contact with Charlie, who is mentally impaired and who has appeared several times on television as an advocate for the rights of the handicapped. When Charlie arrived at Sunset Memorial Gardens, he gave the minister a long-stemmed rose and a white candle. "The rose was for love, and the candle was for world peace," said Dieterle, who recalls being left at an orphanage when he was 2. "I wanted her to have that with her in the vault. The minister said they would be buried right along with her." Ironically, Boulder is only 40 miles from Greeley.

--A bank robbery suspect in Philadelphia has at least one thing in common with Margaret Mitchell's fictional character Rhett Butler: Gone With the Wind. Detective Anthony Doughten tells how a man entered a Fidelity Bank branch and handed a teller a note that read: "I have a gun. Give me the money and you will be safe. If not, we know where you live." He was then given a cardboard box with about $5,000 in it. But once the man stepped outside, a 35-m.p.h. wind swept some of the money into the air. Passers-by, sensing a windfall, gathered up the loot. Minutes later, however, the police arrived and recovered about $300 from the bystanders. They then arrested Michael Pascucci, 37, who had the box, with the rest of the money, in his hands. "People were just reacting on impulse," Doughten said. "You see money flying around, you grab it."

--Diners in some of Great Britain's most elegant restaurants are snapping up the latest "in" delicacy--alligator meat. The meat tastes like chicken or veal and is high in protein, according to James Moran, whose company is the sole importer of the alligators. "It has to be tenderized, but the end result is very tasty." Moran said: "We began importing alligator (from farms in Louisiana) four weeks ago, and sales ($2,700 a week) are going up all the time." It's classified as seafood, and one of London's top seafood houses is selling up to 40 pounds of alligator meuniere and alligator beurre noire a week.

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