Farmer, 97, Isn't Out to Pasture

A 200-horsepower tractor has replaced the power of three horses hitched to his plow, but it's the love of farming rather than new technology that has kept 97-year-old Merritt Heaton active on his 235 acres near Toulon in northeastern Illinois. "I might retire but I won't quit working," he said. "In the spring you'd get uneasy and restless. There's no better place to be than on the farm to see nature--new life." Heaton, who began farming in 1913, was honored as Illinois' oldest active farmer in ceremonies at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield. He grew up on his father's farm and said he never considered another occupation. "You have to have the interest and delight in farming," he said. "I love the challenge." A widower since 1972, Heaton lives alone. But his son, Hayden, 78, lives 1 1/2 miles away and helps run the farm.

--Odon, Ind., must seem a very long way from Washington for Rear Adm. John M. Poindexter, who received a hero's welcome during his hometown's Old Settlers Festival. The former national security adviser to President Reagan said he agreed to attend because he wanted to thank the people who have supported him through the Iran- contra affair. Poindexter was to join in the evening parade in the town of 1,500 and receive a plaque after attending a private cookout with family members. A banner hanging across a Main Street intersection read: "Welcome Admiral John M. Poindexter," and officials dedicated John Poindexter Street. The Poindexters remain one of the town's leading families, as they were when the admiral was a student, said Kate Boyd, Poindexter's fifth-grade teacher. "Remember him? Why yes, how could you forget him?" Boyd said. "He was very businesslike, a very sober young man."

--Colorado Gov. Roy Romer has gone astray. Romer, who admits that he likes cruising and "digging the sounds of the Boss (Bruce Springsteen)," eluded his security guards at the mansion in Denver and left for a reception of the Colorado Alliance of Business. "I left the mansion, let the top on my convertible down, put on a Bruce Springsteen tape and drove . . . to the wrong hotel," Romer, 58, told the business group. "It's a lovely drive that time of day." After realizing that he had driven to the wrong hotel, he turned around and drove to the right one, arriving 75 minutes late. After explaining the delay, Romer asked to borrow $5 for gasoline so that he could get to his next appointment. "Driving myself is the only way I can get away and think," he said. "And who can go wrong with the Boss?"

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