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NEIGHBORS : Stringing Along : It's a long way from the diamond kites of youth to the high-speed marvels of today.

May 24, 1990|LEO SMITH

Flying a kite is not at all like it used to be. Just ask Ed Back, manager of the Village Kite and Toy Store in Ventura Harbor Village and coordinator of the annual Memorial Day kite flying competition. Just ask him what happened to his friend.

"My little sidekick Ed Hotchkiss and I were flying a stack of kites where we go skiing up and down the beach," Back said. "It's got so much power it drags you across the beach like you were water skiing. Ed got turned around backward. He was being dragged head-first and it pulled his pants down. Right there on the beach. Everyone saw it. It was great."

That much power in a kite is not unusual; speeds often reach 100 m.p.h. (The record, by the way, was set by a South Carolina man who flew his kite in the middle of Hurricane Hugo and reached 120 m.p.h. Unfortunately, just after setting the record, his cord broke and he dislocated his shoulder.)

"What we used to fly as kids were diamond kites. Aerodynamically they shouldn't fly," Back said. "Now they've really gone scientific and high-tech. They'll just fly right off your fingertips. They'll sit in the sky as steady as a rock . . . not that a rock can fly."

Sunday's competition is open to the public. Kites will be flying from "wind up to wind down" (10 a.m.-6 p.m.).

There's going to be a seance on Santa Cruz Island this weekend. Sure, fireworks would be a more traditional way to mark Memorial Day, but some of the workers are fed up with the ghost or ghosts residing in the bunkhouse on Christy Ranch, a lodging area for visitors.

"I'll check out some story about a haunted room and a ghostly woman in green who likes to sing," said noted local ghostbuster Richard Senate. "It goes back at least to the '20s. It's so haunted many people who work there won't sleep near the room, let alone in it."

Guide Keith Herold doesn't know where the green lady story came from, but he knows he experienced something odd.

"It was late last fall," he said. "It was about 10 at night. It was just the cook and myself in the bunkhouse here. Everyone else was out bird watching. I had just finished washing the floor and I walked outside for a minute. I came back and the cook was walking by the trash can and the top was twirling. He said he didn't touch it. I kept on mopping. There were books stacked on a microwave. Almost all of the books flew off. They were all bird books. Then we heard a really heavy voice say, 'Bird.' "

So how will it affect business? The Del Coronado in San Diego "has a haunted room and it's requested all the time," said Dick Fuller of Channel Islands Adventures, which offers overnight trips. "It's not like the entire place is haunted. It's not Friday 13th nasty stuff."

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