Dispatches > Quick Takes
Tyler Sawyer/Marist College/AP

Quick Takes


Issue: "Boy Scout dilemma," May 18, 2013

Head drama

A body part floating in a river is usually evidence of foul play. But a head found floating in the Hudson River may be from a different kind of play. The Marist College men’s crew team found the 7-foot-tall head made of styrofoam and fiberglass on April 23 and towed it back to a dock. The head is in the style of a Roman or Greek statue, leading Marist administrators to suspect it is a theater prop. Nobody, however, immediately came forward to claim the piece.

Scaredy cat

After days stranded atop a sign, one Indiana cat has its feet on the ground again. Neither police nor the local humane society knows how an orange tabby landed atop a freeway sign in Elkhart, Ind. But that’s what a motorist saw when he phoned in a distress call to local police on April 11. Officers dispatched to the freeway sign saw nothing. Thankfully, another concerned motorist called the Humane Society of Elkhart County, which sent a shelter worker out to investigate. After spotting the cat perched high above the freeway, the worker called in help from the city’s street department. Humane society officials say the rescued cat, stranded for more than two days, was dehydrated and hungry, but fine.

Gator fight

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Quick thinking by a father and a nearby good Samaritan saved a 6-year-old from the jaws of an 8-foot alligator. Joseph Welch and his son Joey were on a canoeing trip in Boynton Beach, Fla., on April 19 when the boy accidentally fell into the water. “I heard these blood-curdling screams and I saw this gator that had his right arm in his jaw and I just freaked,” Welch told Miami-based WPLG-TV. Desperate to save his son from the gator’s grip, Welch jumped into the water and began pummeling the reptile on the top of its head. A bystander who witnessed the attack then followed the father into the water and began kicking the alligator in the stomach. The animal released the boy, who, thanks to the bravery of the two adults, suffered only minor injuries.

Outdoor trail

Like the unwitting Hansel and Gretel, two Ohio thieves gave police all the clues to ruin their heist. On April 15, the pair of thieves pilfered a barbecue grill from an alley in Dayton, Ohio. Police say the thieves were on their way to sell the grill for scrap metal. But police were able to pick up a trail of burnt charcoal briquettes and ash leading directly to the two men. The men, whom police did not publicly identify, were arrested and charged with theft.

Game theory

Good news for kids with vision problems: Researchers in Canada say children suffering from lazy eye may soon be able to drop the eye patch and pick up a video game. According to scientists from McGill University in Canada, playing the falling-block geometry game known as Tetris could be a more effective treatment for lazy eye than traditional eye-patch therapy. In the study, published in the April edition of the journal Current Biology, researchers created video goggles that displayed the Tetris game. Those suffering from amblyopia—lazy eye’s medical name—benefitted more from an hour a day of goggle Tetris than from spending most of the day with a patch covering their strong eye. Scientists in the United Kingdom are working to verify the claims.

Coin toss

For years Melva Givens of Salem, Va., had millions stashed in her closet, and she never knew it. That’s because the money was in the form of a rare 1913 coin that sold at auction on April 24 for $3.1 million. The coin’s story began in 1912 when an employee at the Philadelphia mint secretly made at least five Liberty Head nickels with an incorrect date—1913—on them. The Liberty Head was replaced the next year by the Buffalo Head, and the employee later sold the coins. In the 1940s collector George O. Walton bought one of them. The coin, considered a fake, went to Givens, Walton’s sister, when Walton died in 1962. “She kept the nickel in a box with family items in the closet,” Givens’ son, Ryan, told the Associated Press, “and it stayed there for four decades.” After his mother’s death, Ryan and three siblings took the coin to the 2003 American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in Baltimore, where experts declared it authentic. 

Not a clutch player

A manual transmission may do more than save on gas mileage. It may also provide a measure of carjacking insurance. A New Jersey man who failed in a carjacking attempt because he couldn’t figure out how to work a clutch received a 55-month sentence on April 15 in federal court. Anthony Reynolds, 18, made an attempt on a Porsche 911 Turbo in Newark last September after forcing the sports car’s driver out at gunpoint. Unable to work the gearbox or foot pedals, Reynolds fled on foot and officers quickly caught and arrested him.


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