News of the Weird

Lead Story
*Henry Ingram, Jr., told the Savannah, Georgia, Morning News in February that he intends to bar all Northerners from ever setting foot on any part of his recently acquired 1600 acres along U.S. 17 near Hardeeville, South Carolina. He recently recorded a deed restriction making that desire possible. The ban applies to members of the "Yankee race" (through birth or at least a year's residence) or to anyone with a last name that is an anagram of "Sherman." Ingram is upset at the recent development of Hilton Head Island and other picturesque areas.

Bad Ideas
*In September four special-education students in Howe, Oklahoma, filed a lawsuit against the school system, their principal, and a teacher for a creative history lesson that turned bad. According to the suit, the kids were forced to portray slaves on a ship, under disgusting circumstances: They were shackled with masking tape, paddled, and imprisoned in a feces-smeared shower stall (with dirty diapers waved in their faces) to simulate slave-ship stench.

*A 33-year-old man was arrested in Anaheim, California, in November and charged with robbing a credit union. He had attracted the attention of police officers while walking down a street several hours after the robbery. In the time between the robbery and the arrest, police said, the man broke into an apartment and took a business suit so he could change clothes, but for some reason he thought he ought to change his shoes. He emerged in fuzzy pink slippers. Said police Sgt. Joe Vargas: "He couldn't give us a logical reason for wearing the slippers."

*In November Portsmouth, Virginia, Circuit Court Judge Von Piersall dismissed charges against former high school track coach John W. Crute, age 47, who clandestinely made videotapes of girls in a locker room. Despite the fact that the girls were captured in full frontal nudity, Piersall said the tapes were not lewd under Virginia law because they portray mere nudity. He was not even persuaded by the fact that, interspersed among the shots of the girls, Crute had spliced scenes from hard-core pornographic videos.

*In November Lenexa, Kansas, Police Chief Ellen Hanson purchased an airline ticket in her name to go to a police conference but had to change plans because of a family illness. Rather than have the department buy another ticket for her substitute, Ofcr. Dawn Layman, Hanson made an official police identification card with her name and Layman's face. Someone tipped off the airline on the return trip. Hanson apologized.

*In July 1997 the Texas Supreme Court threw out a seven-million-dollar lower court judgment for a girl who was born without fingers on her right hand allegedly because her mother had taken the controversial morning sickness drug Bendectin. Dejected, the girl's lawyers filed a motion in November asking the court to reconsider its decision but referring to the justices as "the nine nutty professors" and saying they constituted the Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse. The motion was denied.

What Goes Around Comes Around
*In Rangoon, Myanmar, in August, Htun Wai, who as minister of health in 1988 was reported to have mistreated wounded freedom fighters by shackling them to beds and refusing to help them, was struck by a hit-and-run driver and died shortly afterward; hospitals would not admit him because he had no money.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

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Chuck Shepherd