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Learning alphabets remains much the same as always

Janelle is learning her letters, her grandmother says. She works at them, with pencil and paper, sometimes an hour or two. "Is this a word?" she'll call out to Grandma, who keeps her after kindergarten until Janelle's mother leaves work.

Like me, Janelle probably thinks she has it locked in after she learns almost two alphabets worth of capital and small-print letters, not counting user-friendly letters which look the same capitalized or lowercase.

Soon she will discover that she has a whole new alphabet called cursive to learn. That was when I came home from school, dropped papers and books and announced I was through _ going to be a first-grade dropout. My parents said "Mmm-hmm," or "Oh, that's too bad," and I went to school the next day. My teacher attacked the curse of cursive, pointing out similar letters we already had learned, and the tricks for remembering the harder ones, like the many ways to make an "H" or an "R." The journey was not so bad, taken a step at a time.

When my own children were young, they practiced spelling on a metal board with magnetic letters. Do they still make those, or have they been decreed small enough to choke on and banned? Anyway, we kept our letters on the front of the refrigerator, mainly because we could leave messages to the milk man with them as to how much milk, eggs and butter we wanted.

There are three hints here as to how long ago this was: one, we left the back door open so the milk man could walk in; two, we ordered butter; and three, we had a milk man.

The letters on the refrigerator, later used to write things like "cake is for church _ don't eat," always assured that we had a kid, ours or somebody else's, sitting on the floor in front of the refrigerator working with letters. Not too handy, but kind of fun.

LARC alert: The League to Aid Retarded Children meets at 6:30 tonight at the Treasure Island Tennis and Yacht Club, 400 Treasure Island Causeway. The 30th-anniversary celebration honors past presidents, with a fashion show as a special bonus.

To make reservations for the Women's Tennis Reunion on Oct. 28, call Alvena Pryor, 867-5614, for reservations. Ms. Pryor has become the first director of development at the Museum of Fine Arts.

The Florida Orchestra Guild has its 1995 Designer Show House at 1150 Park St. N, as announced at Monday's meeting. The premier gala will be March 3 and it will be open March 4-25.

Bears, bears everywhere. When you walk into B'ue Beary Stuffed Animal Hospital and Boutique at 660 Central Ave., you feel like you have walked into the teddy bears' picnic. And it's only when you look at the price tags for the stuffed bears and a variety of other creatures _ $1.25, $2 and $3, that you realize these are pre-owned critters. Marilyn Lipp, mother of owner Bill Bachman Jr., did the cleaning and sanitizing of the animals that she and Bachman have been collecting for years with this store in mind.

Fabric panels of blue sky overhead, a giant gnarled brown velvet tree filled with animals, green grass carpet and large wooden painted flowers on the wall were created by Ralph Nurmela, coordinator of the Pinellas County Center for the Arts at Gibbs High School. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Story hours will be presented by local college students on Saturdays. The store will do bear repairs, and soon will add animals to the menagerie.

Bedding plants, house plants, and hanging baskets will all be included in the Gigantic Plant Sale sponsored by the Garden Club of St. Petersburg from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. It is at the Garden Center, 500 Sunset Drive S.

The Bar Auxiliary meets at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Sirata Beach Resort, 5390 Gulf Blvd. There will be a program on quilting by Kelly Woodworth and Pauline Salzman. Your $12.50 goes to Joann Jacobs, 1355 Pinellas Bayway S, Tierra Verde, FL, 33715.

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