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“When I wore our old hat, I...

<i> From staff and wire reports </i>

“When I wore our old hat, I felt like an ice-cream man,” joked Lou Gutierrez, a California Highway Patrol Officer based in East Los Angeles.

California prides itself on being a fashion leader, but it’s sadly out of vogue in the category of state trooper hats.

In fact, it’s one of just a handful of states that still uses the ice-cream (or bus) driver types. Now, though, CHP officers are being given the option of wearing a flat-brimmed model during a six-month experiment to see whether a wardrobe change should be made.

If the CHP’s East Los Angeles office is indicative, the hard-straw, drill-instructor-type variety is a hit. About half the officers have dug into their wallets to buy one (price: $32), and more are expected to follow suit.

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“They’re great-looking,” said Officer Donna De Weese.

But fashion isn’t the only consideration.

The new hats also reduce exposure to direct sunlight and the chance of contracting skin cancer.

CHP spokesman Sam Haynes added, however, that one argument against the flat brims is that in other states “it’s a fairly popular game” when officers are standing by the side of the road “for large trucks to drive by closely and create a funnel that knocks off the hat.”

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It isn’t often that a retriever needs retrieving. But when a San Fernando Valley woman’s Jeep was stolen the other evening, her golden retriever, Bo, happened to be in the back seat. Police later found the car on Central Avenue south of downtown. The car--and easy-going Bo--seemed none the worse for wear.

“Everybody’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day,” says Shevaun O’Sullivan, explaining how this year’s parade in downtown Los Angeles could feature a king of Puerto Rican ancestry, a Polish-born queen and the Chinese historical society.

The parade, which runs from First and Hope streets to City Hall, is also unusual in that it isn’t even held on St. Patrick’s Day, which is Friday. The parade is on Saturday.

However, if you’re looking for an Irish march on Friday, Beautiful Downtown Ventura is holding its first-ever St. Patrick’s Day parade at noon. Ventura’s is also unique in that its grand marshal is deceased. A riderless horse will travel the route in honor of Camarillo rancher Bubby McCormick, who died late last year. “St. Patrick’s Day was always very special to him,” explained Ventura Mayor Jim Monahan.

The mayor said Ventura is a bit late in getting into the swing of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations because “you know how the Irish are--they’re pretty disorganized. And I’m Irish myself.”

A recent item on the meaning of the call letters of local radio stations--and the mystery of KNX’s origins--brought a letter from radio historian Robert Wold, who is writing a book on the subject.

Wold says one story holds that the “NX” portion of the station’s letters referred to its early location in the annex of the Spring Arcade Building downtown. But, he adds, the truth seems to be that the station’s call letters were simply arbitrarily assigned by the government, as was the custom back then.

The same was apparently true of the now-defunct KHJ, which later held a listener contest to come up with three words that fit its call letters, settling on “Kindness, Happiness and Joy.” KHJ, Wold says, even aired three chirping canaries with those names for a while--"its version, I suppose, of the NBC chimes.”

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Full disclosure mandates the following:

A category spotlighted in a slide-show presentation at The Times’ in-house awards ceremony saluted such skills as the “writting” of headlines. It was an editing award.

Ralph Andrews Productions Inc. was recently awarded damages of $1.8 million in Los Angeles County Superior Court against a former employee who was accused of misappropriating trade secrets and stealing the concept for a television game show.

Name of the stolen show: “Anything for Money.”


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