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Let Edison banyan light up your life

Have you ever wished you had a bit of history growing in the back yard? Here's your chance. Jeanne Hilburn and her husband are trying to find a home for a young banyan with a historic pedigree.

It is a sapling from a tree on the Thomas Edison estate in Fort Myers; the parent tree was a gift to Edison from Harvey Firestone, of tire fame. The Hilburns' daughter gave them this offspring as a gift, but they don't have the acreage to sustain it.

In fact, it is languishing as a bonsai in a huge pot on their patio and won't carry on much longer without increased root room. Please e-mail if you'd like to rescue this bit of living history. Connecticut has the Constitution Oak; you could have the Incandescent Banyan.

Youth will be served, the saying goes, and if the youth is talented, so much more reason to do so. Two REX grandparents write that their respective grandchildren show special abilities that need fostering.

Sue Miracle's 13-year-old granddaughter may have a writing career ahead of her. Already this young woman, who is on the honor roll at school, loves to create stories. Her fondest wish is to have a laptop computer on which to do so.

Sue says that, unfortunately, an item like this is far beyond the means of the young author's parents, so Grandma got the idea of writing to REX. Sue writes that she herself understands diddly about computers; however, she knows enough to be aware that users occasionally upgrade theirs. If you have done so, and no longer use your old but still-in-good-working-order laptop, this might be a place you'd like to see it at work.

Sue lives in St. Petersburg and can pick one up within a reasonable distance. Please call (727) 521-0999 or e-mail

Another reader's grandson is our second prodigy, a 6-year-old who wishes to play the violin. A volunteer to teach him has already been lined up; this teacher says that at this age the lad needs a three-quarters-size instrument so his fingers can reach all points. Our reader has been informed that a factory violin (as opposed to a Stradivarius; that comes later!) is fine. If your child has outgrown a three-quarters-size violin, you may wish to e-mail this grandparent at

Eileen Engblom of Dunedin needs help to find a cartridge/needle for an Airline stereo-phonograph made by Montgomery Ward. Eileen may be reached at (727) 733-4371.

As Christmas draws closer, Carol Hume of Hudson is developing a yen for pizzelles. Unfortunately, she doesn't have a pizzelle maker, even though she has scoured yard sales and thrift stores looking for one. If you have an extra pizzelle maker, or can suggest where to purchase one, please call (727) 856-7330.

How about Babka bread? Anyone out there make that? That's what Ken Perkins of St. Petersburg would like to sink his teeth into. We hear from Ken from time to time, and it isn't hard to guess that two of his passions are the TV show M*A*S*H and Babka bread.

This time around, he is offering to trade a slightly rusty, modified folding shopping cart for - what else? - M*A*S*H videos and Babka bread. Please call (727) 347-1218 or (727) 686-0928, but not after 10 p.m., please.

Harriet Brown of Seminole wishes to give away a stack of vinyl records (mostly 45 rpm, with a few 33s mixed in) and a working Radio Shack Realistic record/tape/radio. Harriet may be reached at (727) 393-1612.

Marianne offers a magazine fiesta for crocheters. Here are the titles and issues she is offering: Old Time Crochet (Winter 1990-Autumn 1996, incomplete); Women's Household Crochet (Spring 1991-Autumn 1996, incomplete); Quick & Easy Crochet (Nov. 1989-Dec. 1997, incomplete); Magic Crochet (June 1993-April 1996, incomplete); Crochet Home (June 1994-Dec. 1998); Hooked on Crochet (1991-1998); Crochet Digest (Autumn 1997); Workbasket (Jan. 1992) and several others, which include McCall's Crochet Patterns and Annie's Attic.

If you need further information about numbers and contents, please call (727) 581-6267. Marianne will also deliver within reasonable distance of her Pinellas County home.

A reader named Donna sends this FYI for folks in Pasco County. An organization call Creation Station collects everyday items and distributes them to teachers, scout leaders, etc. for use in kids' projects. Most popular items include cardboard rolls from paper products, wallpaper, fabric and trims, ceramic tile, carpet samples, all kinds of containers. Call (813) 794-2752 or (727) 774-2752 for pickup.

Send requests to Reader Exchange, Floridian, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg 33731 or e-mail Requests will be accepted only by mail or e-mail. This is an exchange column, so we will not run items that are for sale. Readers must agree to publication of phone numbers, including area code.

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