Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsSanta Claus

Newsmakers

He Believes--and Santa Claus Brings Him a Ph.D.

December 16, 1987|SHIRLEY MARLOW

--Carl Anderson may not be the real Santa Claus, but he looks enough like him that children often squeal "It's him" as the 6-foot-2, 220-pound man with a blond beard walks by. Anderson, 34, is a University of Texas professor who once worked as a department store Santa and has studied St. Nick's effect on children. "Every year, Santa Claus has taken over a little more of my life," Anderson said. "It's real hard not to be moved when kids come up and hug you and whisper secrets in your ear. I feel good about that and want to give something back to them." Anderson recently received a Ph.D. in psychology from the Austin university for research on how children relate to Santa. In his dissertation--"Undiscovering the Truth: Children's Reaction to the Reality of the Santa Claus Myth"--Anderson, who studied 50 children and their parents, said he found that children stop believing in Santa between ages 5 and 10. "I know that's a pretty wide range, but if they were kids who enjoyed fantasy or make-believe in the first place, they tended to believe or pretend to still believe longer than other children," he said.

--Neighborhood crime-watch programs are nothing new for Barre, Mass. Nearly two centuries after the Thief and Rogue Detecting Society summoned its first posse to round up rustlers, the dues are still 50 cents, and the membership is up. "We haven't had a horse stolen in the last 60 years," boasts director Charles Wyman, who claims the group is the oldest active crime-watch society in the United States. It was founded in the late 1700s, he said. The group that once chased horse thieves and rounded up cattle rustlers in central Massachusetts now numbers 238 rogue watchers from a dozen states, Europe and Asia, Wyman said. Its oldest member is a 92-year-old woman. It is one of the oldest organizations in the town of just over 4,000 people, predating Barre's police department by at least 150 years, police Chief Michael Ryder said. Wyman, a former State Department attorney, rescued the society from oblivion when he retired a few years ago.

--The Islands are going to an island. That is, Orlin and Bette Island have won a trip to Grand Cayman Island in the Caribbean. The couple found a bottle at South Padre Island off Texas and inside were papers stating they had won a trip to the Caribbean, including air fare, accommodations and a case of rum. The Elk River, Minn., couple called a toll-free number listed on the papers and learned the bottle was one of 12 released off Grand Cayman in June as a promotional stunt.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|