Penny postcard late

"He's gone. He's dead," was the first thought church secretary Marie Taylor had as she held the postcard addressed to the late Rev. Jack Stanton.

Then she took a closer look and read the postmark - 9:30 p.m., October 20, 1949.

The card, relayed by the Postal Service, finally reached its destination last week at the Carpenter Street Baptist Church, where Stanton was pastor from 1947 to 1951. He died last year. Postal officials had their theories about how the card went missing for more than half a century.

It could have been stuck in a machine or a piece of furniture in a Burbank post office and didn't get found until a recent renovation, said Rich Skaggs, the Moberly postmaster.

An outlaw mime?

If state lawmakers decide to act, the world-famous Cirque du Soleil can rest assured its next Minnesota performance will be strictly legal.

Last year, the international troupe of clowns, acrobats, mimes, dancers, and trapeze artists appeared at the same time the State Fair was under way in suburban Falcon Heights.

This was a clear violation of a statute banning circuses anywhere in Minnesota while the State Fair is on, from late August through Labor Day.

So were the Cirque performers entertainers or outlaws?

"Well, technically, it would be illegal," said Jerry Hammer, the Fair's general manager. "Maybe they're only half a circus," he said, in apparent reference to Cirque's theatrical flair and absence of animal acts.

In the 1920s and '30s, Hammer explains, getting to the State Fair was an all-day trek for many, so crafty promoters set up circuses everywhere to lure away fairgoers. Today's organizers express confidence the Great Minnesota Get-Together is safely second-to-none.

Pig, groundhog ... what's the difference?

Instead of a groundhog, a Wisconsin Lions Club will use a potbellied pig to forecast the weather this weekend.

The club is also switching the date of its celebration from Feb. 2 to Feb. 1 because it can't muster enough volunteers to sell tickets at the door any other day.

Besides, the hall where the event is held has already been rented by a local church.

The Lions argue that Hamlet the Potbellied Pig proved his powers of prediction last year when he agreed with Jimmy the Groundhog: A sunny dawn meant spring would wait awhile.

Some traditionalists say the Lions Club is making a farce of the holiday.

"They're making a fallacy of it. They're demeaning Jimmy," joked Sun Prairie mayor Jo Ann Orfan.

Lee Phillips, food committee chairman, said last year's groundhog breakfast fed 462 people and raised money for scout clubs, scholarships and vision tests for kids.

Quote of the day

'Is it because the Secretary-General of the United Nations is now a black man?'

- Nelson Mandela, Nobel laureate and ex-president of South Africa, in a speech accusing the US and British leaders of undermining the authority of Kofi Annan in aiming to "bring carnage" to Iraq.

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