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January 12, 1998|ROY RIVENBURG | Times Staff Writer

Strange Finales: Accordion fanatic Roy Bertelli, 87, is so dedicated to Satan's favorite musical device that he has spent $30,000 on a mausoleum that features a 2,000-pound granite accordion. The future tomb, located in Springfield, Ill., is inscribed: "Lifetime Dedication to the Accordion." Hmmm. We're starting to think that life after death might not be such a great idea after all. In any case, Bertelli's burial plot, which was mentioned in several newspapers last week, isn't the most unusual grave site we've heard about lately.

Cemetery buff Clyde Chamberlin just sent us a story about a grave dedicated to Stonewall Jackson's arm. Apparently, the Confederate general was accidentally shot by his own sentries after a reconnaissance mission and had to have his arm amputated at a field hospital near Chancellorsville, Va. He died about a week later from complications, and his body was buried in Lexington, Va. Well, most of his body. Back in Chancellorsville, Jackson's military chaplain couldn't stand the idea of Jackson's severed arm being cast into a common boneyard with other amputated limbs. So he arranged for it to be given an honorable burial at a nearby plantation.

A tasteful gray stone still marks the site, which is now owned by the National Park Service. It reads: "Arm of Stonewall Jackson. May 3." Chamberlin calls it "undoubtedly the smallest military cemetery in the world."

Clueless Crooks Department: A 32-year-old Alaska man was charged with robbery last week after allegedly walking off with a cash register from an adult bookstore. It didn't take any special detective work to track him down. Police just followed the ribbon of register tape that unfurled behind after he fled the store. Still, we see a silver lining. Shoppers who can never find their cars in mall parking lots should carry a cash register in the future.

Statistic of the Day: Now that the IRS has mailed 1997 tax forms, you'll be pleased to know that every penny of federal income taxes paid by you and all other citizens west of the Mississippi goes to just one item in the federal budget: interest on the national debt. The total tab: $355 billion, says Rep. Chris Cox (R-Newport Beach).

Not on the Menu: A recent survey by Big Yellow, an online directory service operated by Bell Atlantic, has uncovered some strange connections between restaurant specials and outside forces, according to Premiere Radio.

* In Atlanta, there are five times as many "Texas barbecue specials" as in Dallas.

* Restaurants in cities with a Republican mayor serve about 15% more red-meat specials than establishments in towns led by Democrats. The Dem cities lean toward fried food, goat cheese and pesto specials.

* A "Bill Clinton special" is five times more likely to have gravy than a non-Clinton special.

Alien Update: After we told you last week about the Alien Abduction Documentation Kit, readers called to complain that the company's phone number, (800) 817-6691, was mysteriously out of service. They were right. We've since been informed it was a temporary technical glitch. Company officials deny being kidnapped by a UFO.

Best Supermarket-Tabloid Headline: "I Finally Found My Long-Lost Sister--and She's a Man" (Weekly World News)


Contributors: Chicago Sun-Times, Hotline, Associated Press

* Roy Rivenburg can be reached by e-mail at

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