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April 18, 1993|M.H.

"I'm going to Health Fair Expo," I told my grandmother, and she raised an eyebrow as if to say: What's that, for goodness' sake? So I told her: "Free health screenings offered to the public in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Ventura, San Bernardino and Santa Barbara counties through April 25, coordinated by the American Red Cross and the Hospital Council of Southern California. In this 16th year of the Expo, 90,000 people are expected to attend. To find a site near me, I'll call (800) 894-4999."

"You're a healthy girl," she said. "What do you need this for?"

Well, I really wanted to go to show off my new spandex aerobics outfit, but I didn't tell Grandma that. I said: "Expo sites will offer screening for blood pressure, height, weight and vision acuity, as well as health histories, review and referral. Some sites will offer more, such as HIV/AIDS screening, information on breast examinations, oral checkups, stress tests and screening for glaucoma, Tay-Sachs disease and sickle cell anemia."

Grandma laughed.

"Height and weight? You have a scale here at home. If you don't believe that, just pinch," she said, and demonstrated. She has a lot to demonstrate on. "If you can pinch it, believe me, it's fat."

"What about glaucoma or Tay-Sachs?" I asked, still thinking about the handsome young doctors I might meet at the fair. "What about stress tests?"

"Why, get enough sleep, dear. I keep telling you. Stay up late the way you do, of course you'll get bags under your eyes."

I knew where this conversation was heading. "Chicken soup," I said. "You're going to tell me all I need is your chicken soup, right?"

"It's kept you alive so far, hasn't it? And kept me alive these 83 years."

"Eighty-five," I said.

"Well, there you are. I was talking to Mrs. Pickering next door, and she swears by cod-liver oil, which her grandmother gave her . . . "

"Eeeuw," I said.

". . . which is terrible stuff, I know, but she's 87 . So there must be something to it. And Epsom salts. Is that Dr. Jobe, the Dodgers' doctor, going to be at your fair?"

"I don't think so."

"Well, if he is, tell him Mrs. Pickering and Mrs. Lewinsky both say, if his ballplayers hurt their knees or ankles, just soak them in Epsom salts. Don't bother with that art . . . arth . . . whatever."

"Arthroscopic surgery."

"Exactly."

"But Grandma," I said. "What about Mrs. Gomez on the other side of us? She's almost as old as you, and she believes in curanderos. "

"She's a grandmother too," she said. "Which means she knows. When Mrs. Pickering's grandmother gave her that awful oil to drink, she must have laid her hand on the girl's forehead, just the way I laid my hand on yours when you were sick and I was heating up the soup. If Mrs. Gomez wants to call in medicine men to heal her grandchildren, that's OK. The hands they lay on them will be her hands, really. Believe me."

"I'm still going to the fair, Grandma," I said.

"If you insist, dear. Have a good time." She smiled.

"I'll put the soup on when you come back."

Westside Health Fair Locations:

Health Fair Expo '93 will feature exhibits and free screenings for blood pressure, height, weight and vision. A blood panel work-up will be available for $20 and includes a cardiac risk profile. Men age 40 and older can be screened for prostate cancer for an additional $25 fee.

The following Westside locations will be holding health fairs this week:

* Veterans Memorial Auditorium, 4117 Overland Ave., Culver City; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday.

* Fairfax Senior Citizens Center, 7929 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday.

* BC Entertainment Center, 2025 Avenue of the Stars, Century City; 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday.

* Westminster Senior Citizens Center, 1234 Pacific Ave., Venice; 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday.

Information: (800) 894-4999.

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