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Newsmakers

A Five-Minute Hug Was the Summit of Their Dreams

December 21, 1987|SHIRLEY MARLOW

Elizabeth Zhitkov got an early Christmas gift--the arrival of her Soviet husband in the United States after a nearly 10-month wait. When Andrei Zhitkov stepped off a flight from New York at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, his wife was waiting for him with a five-minute hug. "I'm just too happy to say anything," Zhitkov told reporters as he clung to his wife. Zhitkov, 23, was notified shortly before the December summit in Washington between President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev that he would be allowed to join his wife, who is also 23. The Zhitkovs' courtship began in September, 1986, three days after Mrs. Zhitkov, an exchange student with a degree in Soviet studies from Oberlin College, arrived in Leningrad. They were married in the Soviet Union on March 2 and her visa expired two days later. Her husband's request for a passport was denied because he did not have his biological father's permission to emigrate. Zhitkov, a photographer, was reared by his mother and stepfather.

--Real estate agent Remy Burda also helped make the holidays a little merrier for someone when she turned over to a client the $15,000 she found hidden in an old stove at a house she sold. The money had belonged to the seller's mother. The stove had been in the mother's unoccupied house in Berwyn, a Chicago suburb, since she died about two years ago and her husband moved to Colorado to live with his daughter, Burda said. "A lot of people would have taken the money and walked away," said the daughter, who lives in the Denver area and asked that her name not be used. The find came after her parents' unoccupied house went up for sale. The daughter said her father would not have known about the money because he has Alzheimer's disease.

--A stolen parrot spoke up and told police in Houston the name of his real owner. When police found the 13-year-old, yellow-headed parrot named Eric in a probationer's apartment, the bird greeted them with phrases such as: "Hello, Laura!" and "Hello, Eric!" Checking reports of stolen parrots turned up the name of Laura Lancaster Bates. The bird became very excited, flapping its wings and swinging wildly inside its cage when Bates arrived at a police station. "Eric just started screaming 'Laura!' " Bates said. "It took me aback. . . . I knew I was his favorite, but I didn't know it was that much," she said. "I didn't have to identify him. He identified me."

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