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Newsmakers

Spring Fever Warms the Heart--Not Yet the Fingers

January 28, 1988|SHIRLEY MARLOW

Sunrise is a daily occurrence in most places, but not in Barrow, Alaska. So, as the sun began creeping above the northern horizon after two months of constant night, the town's sun-starved magistrate celebrated by flying a kite. "I was out flying it for a half hour or 40 minutes," Monte Engel said. "The biggest problem was holding the string. It was 40 below, with the wind chill. My fingers were getting numb, even with gloves and over-mittens made of caribou and beaver." Engel, 35, hasn't actually seen the sun yet because of clouds, but he knows it's up there somewhere for a short while each day. In a few months, Engel will be able to fly his kite for as long as he wants. National Weather Service meteorologist Brian Lynn said that after the sun rises May 11 in Barrow, it won't set again until Aug. 2.

--Harold Thomas not only has found a home, he's also become a bit of a celebrity. Roy and Ethel Gilman, who have a ranch near Portales, N.M., read a news story describing Thomas' life in a makeshift shack on the Chicago River and called the wire service's Chicago bureau to offer him a job as a ranch hand. The 35-year-old Thomas accepted and, for the last two weeks, has been doing a variety of jobs on the ranch, such as fixing cars and helping to load hay. When he's not busy working, he reads the cards and letters from well-wishers across the country. Among his supporters are 28 fifth-graders from Corrales Elementary School near Albuquerque. Mrs. Gilman said she and her husband have also received letters, many from others seeking work and a place to live or offering to take Thomas' job if he leaves.

--Canadian doctor Chris Giannou's work at Beirut's Shatila refugee camp was a prescription for sadness. "All doctors have defense mechanisms to face death and yet to continue in work, but in Shatila, the situation was different because I knew everybody," Giannou said as he bade an emotional farewell at the camp that is home to 3,500 Palestinians. Giannou, 38, directed Shatila hospital for the Palestine Red Crescent Society during three years of fighting between Palestinian guerrillas and the Amal militia, in which at least 2,500 people were killed. Giannou said he would write a book about war and field surgery in the Third World.

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