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Scoring a Homecoming Victory

The unwanted child of an alcoholic mother, abused by her adoptive parents, she languished in a state mental hospital for 17 years, misdiagnosed as schizophrenic. But after a long fight for normalcy, Marie Balter has returned triumphant to the place of her despair, Danvers State Hospital in Boston, assuming the post of a full-time administrator. “I always believe that suffering pain is not a negative force in our lives,” she said. “We take our pain and tragedy and use them to serve others, and then they become positive tools to achieve our goals.” The 58-year-old Balter, who later earned a master’s degree from Harvard, was institutionalized in 1947 for symptoms including hyperventilation and hallucinations. She eventually was to learn she suffered from a form of depression and panic disorder, not schizophrenia. With the help of friends and mental health workers, she gained her release in 1964. In her new job, Balter will serve as chief hospital spokeswoman and will help train health workers, recruit volunteers, find grants and assist in fund-raising.

--Soviet inspectors studying nuclear weapons sites in Utah won’t, however, learn much about the nuclear family under a policy that bars them from partaking of Thanksgiving festivities at the homes of Americans. Peace activists belonging to the group Women Concerned About Nuclear War proposed that the Soviets be allowed to spend the holiday talking turkey with University of Utah professor Ed Firmage. But the Defense Department said that U.S. policy forbade the Soviets from accepting invitations to private homes. “I’m underwhelmed with such reasoning,” Firmage said. “How is it any less difficult to ensure security in a public building that has many offices and entrances than it is for a private home?” Under terms of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty, Soviet inspectors may not travel outside a 31-mile radius of the Hercules Aerospace plant in Magna, a suburb of Salt Lake City, and they must be escorted at all times by American guards.

--What does a President have to be thankful for? This year, the Reagan family sat down to a dinner of turkey with corn bread dressing, cranberries, string beans with almonds, mashed potatoes, salad, monkey bread and pumpkin pie with whipped cream. Joining President and Mrs. Reagan at their mountaintop ranch north of Santa Barbara were daughter Maureen and her husband, Dennis Revell; Mrs. Reagan’s personal secretary, Jane Erkenbeck; her press secretary, Elaine Crispen, and Crispen’s daughter, Cheryl. The monkey bread has been a special fixture on the Reagans’ holiday menu since Mrs. Reagan discovered the sweet bread at Sandy’s bakery in Brentwood. The Reagans will return to Washington on Sunday. They are then due to come back to the West Coast on Dec. 23, with plans to spend five days in Los Angeles for Christmas and another five days in Palm Springs at the home of publisher Walter H. Annenberg.


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