People and Events

From staff and wire reports

Uzis for ursines.

They were swapping Colt revolvers for cuddle toys at Paul Revere Junior High School in Brentwood Wednesday--a teddy bear for every toy gun a student surrendered to the Alliance for Survival, which cautioned them on the dangers even toy guns can pose.

"They'd rather hug a teddy bear than go bang-bang with a gun," believes Alliance director Jerry Rubin--even the big kids, who are urged to donate their stuffed toys to children in hospitals.

About three dozen pieces of phony firepower were turned in, among them a couple of water pistols from a teacher--probably the contraband of some hallway warrior--as well as some GI Joe dolls and a helicopter gunship.

In the past, Rubin has committed such guns to be buried, melted down and wafted away on balloons. This time, a magician has pledged to make them disappear, amid a flock of peace doves.

On Wednesday, when the big bears went real fast, some kids apparently got a little grabby, taking two of the little ones. And a few people were startled when one sweet little thing with long blond hair picked up a pistol, dropped into a creditable shooting stance and ordered her friend, "Freeze!"

Six decades and 21 aliases after he first got busted, Ronnie W. Fairbanks was a free man--again.

He walked out of the California Institution for Men in Chino Wednesday with a parolee's standard issue--$200 cash--and the unofficial title of California's oldest prison inmate.

His last arrest was in June, 1987, when he was accused of stealing a suitcase at Los Angeles International Airport. His first was in 1928, followed by sundry stints in jails and prisons from here to Florida and, finally, three months with a road gang for petty theft in 1937. Fairbanks kept his nose clean until 1960, when theft again tripped him up in San Francisco. Thereafter, records show better than one arrest a year for 20 years, from New York to Beverly Hills.

Fairbanks thinks he'll settle down in Pasadena, not far from his parole officer. "I'm not scared. . . . I'll make out somehow," he told the San Jose Mercury News.

His latest stretch in the joint, he contended, was for shoplifting gold earrings from a Los Angeles department store to swap for food.

Besides, he noted, prison was the only place he could get surgery for a deviated septum.

They really could have called it "Las Vegas or bust."

LAPD officers swept the 76-team field in the 120-mile Baker-to-Vegas relay run that drew lawmen from a score of agencies, including the FBI--and even postmen from L.A.

The protect-and-serve crowd "were so far ahead that it would have required the sheriff's team to ride motorcycles to beat them," Gates crowed in a memo about the event, which he praised as "a very special day of camaraderie" for badge-bearers.

The 61-year-old Gates ran the 19th leg of the 20-section race last weekend, helping his "Parker Center" team place third, behind two other LAPD groups.

The race was run in Death Valley until a few years ago, when the field--and the desert--got too crowded. This year, "The Write Stuff," a team of L.A.-area reporters, came in 59th, and the last-place finishers, seven hours behind the leaders, were the USC campus police.

An anonymous caller warning that he was speaking for a "heavily armed terrorist group" and that "animals may have to die" threatened to blow up a South Gate animal shelter unless its animals were released within 72 hours. The caller explained that his group was "sick and tired of them sending animals to labs."

The Tuesday night telephone call from a man who said he represented the "Freedom Foundation" was reported to South Gate police, which has stepped up its patrols driving by the facility.

"The ironic thing," says Los Angeles Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals spokesman Jay Geer, "is we've never given animals to animal research and never will."

The South Gate SPCA shelter, which operates under contract to several cities in the Southeast area of the county, has about 100 dogs and cats at any one time, said Geer--and, at present, even some chickens.

The woman who answered the telephone "tried to say we've never given animals to research, but he didn't want to hear it," said Geer. "We never sell any animals for research. We're kind of trying to do some good, we're not trying to do any torture there."

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