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VALLEY NEWSWATCH

May 09, 1994

RUNNING ON EMPTY: For ironworkers like Fred Smith, rebuilding the quake-shattered interchange of the Golden State and Antelope Valley freeways is a lucrative but exhausting task (B1). Smith routinely works "7-10s"--10-hour days, seven days a week. He is so tired, he says, that his eyes feel like they have cement lids. . . . On the other hand, freeway workers are grossing as much as $2,500 a week.

HEALING OR HURTING?: She claims she can ease a baby's upset stomach with massage or bring back a wayward husband with prayer. She is a curandera --a folk healer who uses a mix of herbs, mysticism and religion (B1). She doesn't want her name printed, though you can find her at home in Arleta. . . . But such unlicensed practitioners have come under scrutiny since a Reseda woman allegedly gave a fatal injection to a 22-year-old man.

CELEBRATING MOM: Sunday was Mother's Day, and Valley dads picked out bouquets while Valley moms savored fancy restaurant dinners (no dishes tonight, thank you). At the Strauss Ranch in Agoura, a band played Beatles tunes for a crowd of 30- and 40-something mothers and their families. Above, Sylvia Tillman twists and shouts with her daughter, 4.

SPUDS, SUDS AND ART: David Israel and his partners are about to open a new business in Northridge: a combination '50s-style diner and carwash. Besides their $1-million investment, they faced a $6,000 tax for a citywide arts program. But Israel persuaded officials to let him use the money to decorate his own business--with a huge mural celebrating 1950s cruiser culture (B5).

ODD THANK YOU?: The Odd Ball Cabaret in North Hills, which features nude dancers, made news recently when city inspectors halted its "shower shows" because the stage had no wheelchair access. But some observers thought this an odd way to treat a business that, after all, had raised money for Rebuild L.A.

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