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Around the South Bay

With the economy heating up again, the iceman cometh back.

October 13, 1994

ON THE ROCKS: Don't let those pesky economists get you down with news of a lagging local economy. If ice machines are any indication, the South Bay's business climate may be warming.

Peter Guzman, 37, recently resurrected his 10-year-old, bus-sized ice vending machine on Inglewood Avenue in Lawndale, and he's optimistic.

"There's been a downturn in the ice industry," he said. "But we know this business will work and we have faith in the community."

The shoe box-shaped machine, which hums quietly next to railroad tracks and telephone poles along the busy street, dispenses 25-pound blocks of ice for $2 or 7-pound bags of cubed ice for $2.25 in quarters. Guzman soon hopes to offer 20-pound bags of cubed ice for $3.

A year ago, Guzman turned off the machine when bills started piling up in the offices of Washington Dairy, his Whittier-based business. Although only three of his 10 machines around Southern California are now operating, he hopes to turn on another soon.

Since electric company workers flipped the switch recently to cool off the large freezer, Guzman said, the machine has sold ice to 50 to 100 customers a week. He said sales were boosted by the bright-orange "grand reopening" banner he draped across the front.

"I really have a beautiful location there," he said. "I couldn't have picked a better spot."

Guzman said he has yet to schedule a gala grand reopening celebration, but he hopes to have one someday soon.

*

PARASOL PIRATE: Was it the wind, or something truly evil?

A Rancho Palos Verdes resident believes the updraft from a passing helicopter lifted his green and blue patio umbrella from its concrete stand and spirited it away last month.

A resident of the 3000 block of Crownview Drive first told Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies that the helicopter lowered a cable and removed the patio umbrella from a concrete stand around 2:30 p.m. on a Wednesday. The case of the $420 umbrella was listed as a grand theft.

But the resident, who wished to remain anonymous, changed his mind when he later found the umbrella about 1,000 feet from his home, said Sgt. Hector A. Zabala.

Zabala, however, says the case is not closed. He speculates that what one neighbor described as a gray helicopter--and larger than a police helicopter--was flying below the legal limit of 500 feet off the ground in populated areas.

But without access to a flight plan, it will be difficult to find the helicopter that was in the area at the time of the alleged umbrella-naping, he said. "I don't think we're going to get a pilot to admit that he violated the airspace."

*

BLOOD FEUD: Arco Refinery manager Abe Johnson's employees lost at the blood pumps; now he's headed for the gas pumps.

The Carson refinery's employees recently challenged those at the Mobil Refinery in Torrance to a competition: who could collect the most blood for the American Red Cross. The losing refinery's manager had to pump gas for a day at the competitor's service station.

The winner: Mobil, which collected 600 pints of blood in a drive in late September. Arco employees collected nearly 400 pints.

"We do have Mr. Johnson's measurements for his Mobil uniform ready to go," said Mobil Refinery spokesman Barry Engelberg.

And to prove that it was all a good-natured contest, Mobil's manager, Joel Maness, agreed to pump the gas with him.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"It surprises me that I feel this way about this pile of sand. There's something very different about pulling out weeds and planting plants, a rush that I've never gotten from saving a piece of land by political means."

--Fred Heath, president of the Los Angeles Audubon Society, on volunteering to save the habitat of the El Segundo blue butterfly. J8

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