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Chester Played It by Ear--and Left Warm Memories

December 22, 1987|SHIRLEY MARLOW

--Chester Greenwood is remembered fondly by residents of his hometown of Farmington, Me.--especially when the weather turns ear-numbing cold. So it's understandable that the western Maine town paid tribute to the local boy who invented the earmuff more than a century ago. It was Chester Greenwood Day, which the Legislature designated 11 years ago to coincide with the onset of winter. As part of the fun, students from the University of Maine at Farmington invited people to gather in front of the Franklin County Courthouse wearing earmuffs. The goal was to be included in the Guinness Book of World Records with the largest number of people wearing the same item of clothing, said Town Manager Dana Bradley. Organizers distributed 240 pairs of earmuffs. Greenwood was 15 when he got the idea for earmuffs, one of more than 100 inventions he patented, after his ears got cold while he was trying out a new pair of ice skates. He fashioned the first earmuffs from a wire loop to fit over his head and had his grandmother sew bits of fur onto the ends. Later, he manufactured the headgear at the now-defunct Greenwood Ear Protector Factory in Farmington. He died in 1937 at age 78.

--Policeman D.J. Dunbar turns on the flashing lights of his patrol car in Indianapolis these days as a sign of his Christmas spirit. His police car is equipped with tiny Christmas lights, a manger scene, a Christmas tree and Santa on his sleigh. Dunbar also broadcasts Christmas carols from an external speaker while on patrol on the northeast side of Indianapolis. "No doubt about it," says Dunbar, "Christmas is my time of year." Not everyone appreciates his efforts. One person asked Dunbar to turn down the volume on the music, he said.

--And there's a Virginia state trooper who does not approve of mobile Christmas lights. Jeanne Albrecht, 58, of Fairfax City, thought the Christmas lights strung around the back window of her car added cheer to the season. But, she was pulled over on Interstate 66 in Manassas and was given a $35 ticket by a state trooper who told her the lights could distract other motorists. Albrecht said it was her first traffic ticket for a moving violation. The lights, which do not blink, are designed for cars and plug into cigarette lighters. "I think it was a Scrooge who happened to spot us," Albrecht said.

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