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Unlocking Kids’ Imagination--That’s Dr. Fad’s Delight

There’s the Hair-Dryer Eyer, the Double-Lidded Peanut Butter Jar, the Parent Pleaser, even the Cushy for the Tushy. And if necessity is the mother of invention, Ken Hakuda has to be the paterfamilias.

What it is about Hakuda--a.k.a. Dr. Fad--is that he loves kids: their unfettered imaginations, their illimitable enthusiasms, their ingenuous refusal to recognize limitations, let alone impossibilities.

Japanese-born, Harvard-educated, fad-rich (he made a fortune marketing the Wacky Wallwalker), Hakuda has scheduled a country-wide tour to mine imagination, “a bottomless lode.”

He’ll be here Oct. 5 to explain how area inventors can enter the first “Great American Fad Search,” winners of which will appear on the syndicated “Dr. Fad Show” debuting locally Saturday on KCBS.

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Contacted at his parents’ mountain retreat north of Tokyo, Hakuda fairly bubbled over the prospect.

“The focus of the whole thing is promoting children’s creativity, their inventiveness,” he said, “not the most marketable, but the most fun. Even the teachers are behind us: ‘Finally we’re going to make children think,’ they say, ‘not watch some stupid cartoon.’ ”

The show will be in two rounds: First, a “Fad Lab Challenge” where, “for example, we give the kids a lump of clay and ask them to build a ‘boat’ that holds the most marbles; or we ask them to construct the tallest tower atop a rotating turntable.”

In Part 2, the children present their inventions to an audience of other young inventors, who judge the entries: the Four-Sided Doormat, the Reel-In Putter, the All-in-One Hat. . . .

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“Not glossy or expensive,” Hakuda says, “but genuine: low-budget, high-fun. We just let kids be kids.”

And for those who can’t wait for his visit, Dr. Fad has a hot line: (800) USA-FADS. Hakuda, of course, takes the calls on a Mickey Mouse phone.

Returning a Dead Soldier’s Bible Found 43 Years Ago

A soldier. A shot. A Bible.

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Now, a 43-year-old mystery.

Back in 1945, says Edgar (Bud) Parsons, a barn at Miescheid, a hamlet just beyond Germany’s Siegfried Line, exploded, killing 51 American soldiers of the 69th Infantry Division. Ernest Jones was among those detailed to sort through the human carnage. “I was so young, and in a state of shock,” Jones later recalled, “and when we were ordered to pick up parts for burial, I just couldn’t. I wandered around in shock. . . . What I did find was a Bible, and I’ve had it all these years, wanting to return it but not knowing how. . . .”

The Bible, “distributed by the Christian Science Publishing Society,” had belonged to 2nd Lt. Daniel R. Shuler, a former student at UCLA, from the Los Angeles area. According to an inscription, it had been presented to Shuler by Lee (possibly Leo, or Lea) Andrus (possibly Andrews) on May 7, 1943, and carried into battle.

This June, Jones met with Parsons--a lieutenant in the 69th--in Maine, and turned the Bible over to him. Since then, Parsons, now living in North Carolina, has attempted to locate Shuler’s next of kin. In the course of his search, Parsons discovered that Shuler had not perished at Miescheid. (Why his Bible was found there remains unexplained.) Several weeks after the explosion, Shuler, commanding a platoon of Company C, 273rd Infantry Regiment, 69th Divsion, was 100 miles to the east, near a village named Hanovers-Munden. His platoon was pursuing some 20 German reinforcement troops when “the platoon came under mortar fire,” recalls ex-Lt. Col. Isaac Lichtenfels, then company commander. “Shuler personally set out to find and destroy the mortar and crew. The crew got him instead. . . . Our battalion CO wrote up the posthumous award. I think it was a Silver Star.”

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Parson’s efforts to trace the young hero through the Army have bogged down in bureaucracy. Another veteran of the 69th--Dr. William D. Robertson of Culver City, better known as the leader of the patrol that first met up with a Soviet unit on German soil--remembers Shuler, but vaguely. “He was local to the L.A. area, a UCLA student in 1942,” Robertson recalls, “and we were both in the ROTC at UCLA in ’43. We were trained at Camp Roberts, Calif., before being assigned to duty.”

Parsons, meanwhile, notes that the 69th annually decorates with a red rose each grave of the unit’s slain in Germany. “Shuler is not among them,” he says. “Someone must have claimed his remains. We’d like to return the Bible to that someone, with our remembrance, and the thanks of our country.”

Two’s Company, Three’s a Wedding

“Another Livadas Production,” read the headlines in Greece, and indeed it was.

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“I was overwhelmed when I got to the church,” says Linda Livadas, nee Garrett, who wed Greek-born Alex Livadas in a somewhat spectacular August ceremony in the Athens suburb of Kavouri. “I felt like an actress or something, what with all the cameras, photographers, reporters. . . . But I calmed myself by remembering that (her father-in-law) had put on elaborate productions before.”

Linda and Alex are back home in Newport Beach, still recovering from the nuptial revel staged with characteristic panache by Papa Vagelis Livadas, a renowned entrepreneur in Greek cinema circles.

Linda, a teacher, and Alex, a car salesman (“temporarily, until he sells a script,” his bride says), cruised the Greek islands in a sort of preview honeymoon, debarked in Athens to greet some 20 American guests, and headed down to coastal Kavouri to marry.

As international singing star Nana Mousskouri entertained at the wedding, Linda concentrated on negotiating the complex Greek Orthodox ceremony without contretemps. “Everything is done in threes,” she explains: “The bride and groom never say a word, but their crowns are switched three times, and the wedding rings too. Finally, you circle the altar three times, as the guests throw rice. Going around the first and second times, you’re still not married. After the third round, that’s it!”

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Was Linda tempted to stay on? “Greece is lovely,” she says, “but we’re both too used to living with the little things: telephones that talk, air conditioners that cool, showers that squirt. . . .”


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