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Mrs. Bush Rises to the Occasion

One of the perks of being the vice president’s wife is placing the crowning ornament atop the National Christmas Tree. And so it was that Barbara Bush found herself being hoisted 35 feet in the air aboard a bumpy hydraulic boom with a couple of dinosaur puppets named Rex and Rita Readasaurus (more about them later). It was the eighth consecutive year that Mrs. Bush had performed the task, and one she apparently doesn’t want to give up when her husband George’s title is shortened next month. She was overheard telling a guest in a reception line afterward: “It’s the only thing I’ve done more than anyone else,” and to another: “I would be offended if someone else did it.” President Reagan will light the live national tree, a Colorado blue spruce on the Ellipse behind the White House, for the last time on Dec. 15. Mrs. Bush, meanwhile, had an animated chat with Rex and Rita as they rode the boom basket skyward while two classes of Washington first-graders cheered and applauded. According to puppet designer Brad Williams, who was crouched down in the boom box along with Lynn Hippen, the puppets were “hatched” at the National Zoo in May to promote the national Reading Is Fundamental program. “Has anyone read “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas?” Mrs. Bush asked the children when she returned to earth. “I saw it on TV,” one child offered. “It’s better if you read it,” Mrs. Bush said.

--President Reagan took advantage of a farewell visit by Japanese Foreign Minister Sosuke Uno to remind his guest of the two years Uno spent in a Soviet detention camp in Siberia after World War II. In remarks that apparently reflect U.S. concern about Soviet diplomatic initiatives toward Japan, Reagan quipped that he knew Uno could well handle Japan’s relationship with the Soviet Union because Uno had “lived in the Soviet Union.” But Uno gently contradicted Reagan by stressing that the time he spent in a Soviet internment camp in the 1940s will not influence his decisions on Tokyo’s present relations with Moscow. Uno, 66, was serving as a second lieutenant in Korea when he was taken into Soviet custody at the end of World War II. He spent two years in a Siberian detention camp.

--Karol Wojtyla, better known as Pope John Paul II, has invited 21 friends who were graduated with him from Wadowice high school in Poland in 1938 to dinner tonight, according to Vatican sources. The 68-year-old pontiff met briefly with his old schoolmates, who traveled to the Vatican to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their graduation, after his general audience on Wednesday. They were to dine together in the papal apartments in the Vatican.


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