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A Chronicle Of The Passing Scene


The Graffiti Police

Want to pick up a quick $1,000? Head for Lancaster.

All you have to do is catch a spray-painter in the act, call the police, and the money is yours.

If you think that's too quick and easy, you're right.

The tagger has to be arrested and convicted, which can take months, depending on the local court calendar.

Then the money will be awarded by the Lancaster City Council, according to Jeff Long, director of public works. The three-year program has resulted in three $1,000 payments, Long says.

Former Mayor Jack Murphy, who established it, and co-worker Ramona Hooper split the first $1,000. Recently, Lancaster residents Derrenda Stevenson and Bernie Paprock collected $1,000 each.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Friday February 12, 1993 Valley Edition Valley Life Page 22 Zones Desk 2 inches; 44 words Type of Material: Correction
Wrong name--Alex Andres' name was misspelled in the Feb. 5 Viewfinder column. Andres is a Woodland Hills resident who devotes his life to anti-smoking activities. Also Bob Denham was misidentified in the same story. Denham is a sergeant at the Antelope Valley station of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Sgt. Bob Denham, Lancaster Police Department public affairs officer, says tagging is a gang's way of marking territory, and removing the graffiti marks as soon as they go up tells taggers the city is ceding no territory.

Denham says there is visible evidence that the program works.

"Our city is relatively graffiti-free, unlike other cities in our area," he says.

The city has a two-member maintenance crew that immediately responds to any citizen call to the police about graffiti, Long says. The city also tries to get a maintenance crew there within hours, he adds. The crew uses a water jet or a sandblaster to remove the markings.

In 1991, there were 26 calls per month compared to 112 calls in the first month of this year, Long says.

That's due in part to the awareness of the program, and in part to the increase in the crime, he says.

The City Council will not let crew members have their pictures in the press.

"It's just a precaution," Long says. "Gang members don't like people removing their markings. We don't want to endanger the men who work this detail."

Patriotic Fudge Factory

Terry Benn of Palmdale seems like a sweetie.

The Palmdale High School security officer is making an effort to send a box of her homemade fudge to any serviceman in Somalia whose family requests it.

She started fudging when her son, Ron Benn, was in Saudi Arabia as part of Desert Shield two years ago.

She sent him some homemade fudge, but he never got a bite.

Ron offered the other guys in his tent some of the fudge, and it vanished. When he wrote to tell her, she realized the guys were starved for something from home.

For a while, she tried to organize a group to send goodies on a regular basis to anyone serving in the military, but it got to be too much.

Rather than fudge on the effort, she decided to go back to giving it her personal touch.

Anyone who would like to inquire about her offer may write to her at 3524 East Ave. R, Space 262, Palmdale, CA 93550.

The Right Name for the Job

Seventeen years ago, Hazel Hand, now 84, donated some clothing she had made that had been outgrown by her granddaughter.

"I spotted a notice in the paper about the Volunteer League needing things to help poor families," she says.

She said she would be happy to make some more.

Some 6,600 handmade items later, this dynamo is still putting them in stitches.

"Well, I'm not as fast as I used to be," she says.

Those 6,600 items don't include the sweaters that she has knitted.

"I guess there have been about 400 of those," she says.

"I didn't do that much," she added.

"Yes she has," league Vice President Ann Snyder responds forcefully.

Hazel Hand was born in Savannak, Ill., and first came to the Valley with her parents when she was a girl in the '20s. She want back and forth to the Midwest for several years and finished college in the Midwest.

She and her husband, Arthur Hand, now 87, settled in Sherman Oaks in 1948. They have lived in the same house ever since.

They have a son who is a dentist, a grandson who is a lawyer and a grandson-in-law who is a doctor. "That pretty well takes care of our needs," she says, laughing.

But the retired medical secretary has always been interested in other folks' needs. "It's just nice to be able to help some."

She and the Volunteer League of the San Fernando Valley were an obvious match.

"She is just one-of-a-kind," Snyder says. "We have no one else doing what she does."

The league's Centre Clothes Corner in Van Nuys gives clothing to needy youngsters who have been directed to the league by schools and welfare agencies.

"We give each youngster two complete outfits, including shoes and jackets," Snyder says.

In what has turned into a full-time job, Hand hand makes skirts, jumpers and boys pants.

She does it all without receiving a penny of payment.

A Surgeon General's Best Friend

Cigarettes really burn up Alex Andrews, who is a nonsmoking 80-something.

The Woodland Hills man says tobacco has caused more deaths than war, pestilence and plague.

He has always been angry about the dangers of smoking and started his own anti-smoking campaign when he was an insurance agent in the Valley in the early '60s.

"My message was so unpopular I almost got kicked out of some service club meetings where I was speaking," he says.

That certainly didn't stop him.

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