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Frantic sister asks the impossible and then asks some more


If it's not one thing, it's another. The morning before my sister and her children were to go overseas, she woke me up by saying: "My son's passport expired last October, and I have to go to work. Can you fix this and get him one?"

Passports take three weeks by mail, a week if you go to the State Department Offices yourself. But I found out about the emergency passport provisions, and a sweltering day-and-a-half later (only two hours before check-in at Dulles Airport) I got her the passport.

All's well that ends well -- except that I've raised the stakes again. Every success leads to crazier jobs.

It all began years ago, when my uncle's brother-in-law bought an old Piper Cub airplane in Belgium. It was missing the nosepiece, or the very front of the body.

My sister told him I could find anything, so I got a letter from a man I'd never met, asking me to get him this part and giving me the pertinent model information, but not the real name for the part. His letter, of course, was in French.

I only speak schoolgirl French; I can discuss pencils, algebra, colors and sing the "Marseillaise," but I have no technical vocabulary. I translated as best I could, and set out to find the part.

This led to the most interrupted phone conversation of my life. I found the number for the Piper company. "Hello, I'd like the prices for the nose cone of a 1964 airplane," I said.

Click, I was on hold for a minute, then the person very cheerfully directed my call to the next department. And this happened every time I explained the problem to whoever picked up the phone. (Piper must be a fun place to work, because everyone sounded so cheerful as they spoke to me.)

Finally, between their questions, my explanations, and only one escaped chuckle before my listener pushed the hold button, we located the correct part.

I bought it. I mailed it to my uncle's brother-in-law in Belgium. It was a perfect fit, and very cheap. Five months later, I received another letter from the brother-in-law thanking me -- and asking me to price air-to-ground radar for his plane.

It's true: No good deed goes unpunished.

Two Laurel-area senior high school students have been awarded art scholarships.

Kelley Keister, a graduate of Laurel High School, and James Ballogh, a graduate of St. Vincent Pallotti High School, each received the Laurel Art Guild's 1994 art scholarship. LAG awards scholarships yearly to students selected by their teachers for creativity in the arts.



Resurrection of Our Lord Roman Catholic Church is holding a Sock Hop at 8 p.m. tomorrow. The $5 admission gets you snacks, music, sodas, setups and a chance at door prizes. The grand prize at the raffle is $500 cash. Other prizes include tickets to area restaurants and to both Toby's and Burn Brae Dinner theaters. There'll be a beer and wine cash bar at the dance, too. 1950s dress is encouraged, but not required. Bring out your old poodle skirts and twin sets.

Information: (301) 725-8255.


America's First Army Band Jazz Ensemble performs this Sunday night on the lawn of Devers Hall, on Mapes Road in Fort Meade.

This is another in the Fort Meade Summer Band Concert series. All the concerts are free and begin promptly at 7 p.m. If it rains that night (when hasn't it rained at night recently?), the concert will be canceled.


The 40 children who came to Resurrection Parish's Vacation Bible school had a great time learning and playing. The parish thanks Maggie Blackwell and Sherry Montag for teaching the preschoolers with patience and delight. Kerry Russell taught the kindergartners. Corrinne Mohnasky faced a combined 1st and 2nd grade class, but sailed through with flying colors. Sister Ann not only taught the combined third and fourth grades but also organized the entire Vacation Bible School program.


This Wednesday, the Savage Branch of the Howard County Library will present a Mother Goose puppet program for children 3 and older. The program lasts 45 minutes and begins at 2 p.m. Register by phone by calling 880-5978 or in person at the children's desk.

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