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REPORTERS NOTEBOOK

Ice cream, someone has noted, does not put on weight right away -- it takes a month of Sundaes. . . .

ON THIS DAY -- In 1790, the first successful cotton mill in the United States began operating in Pawtucket, R.I. . . . In 1803, the Louisiana Purchase was completed with ceremonies in New Orleans. The United States paid France $15 million for the territory, which doubled the size of the country . . . In 1860, South Carolina became the first state to quit the Union . . . In 1989, the United States launched Operation Just Cause, sending troops into Panama to topple the government of Gen. Manuel Noriega. . . .

A GIFT from the General Electric Co. to Alfred University may bring to light good things in laser-assisted microsurgery, according to Dr. Arun Varshneya, professor of glass science and engineering at the college.

He said GE's Lighting Business Group donated a $150,000 glass-fiber drawing tower -- equipment used to pull glass into wire-like form -- to the College of Ceramics. The equipment will allow Varshneya, Dr. Alexis Clare, assistant professor of glass science, and Dr. William LaCourse, professor of glass science, to conduct research into the use of advanced technology glasses.

The research involves the potential use of chalcogenide glasses instead of the more usual silica to transmit mid-infrared wavelength laser beams during microsurgery. . . .
JOYCE SIMPSON of Mill Farm in North Yorkshire, England, has found a series of amazingly detailed letters from a Thomas Hutchinson family of "Harris Hill, Erie County," in the 1860s. The letters seem to parallel a journal she has, kept by another branch of the family in England.

Mrs. Simpson would like to hear from descendants of Thomas and Ann (Leng) Hutchinson. . . .

RETURN ON BOTTLE -- Jerry Fusani of Depew has discovered an inexpensive way to send letters from the Bahamas to Ireland -- as long as there's no rush. A note he put into an old wine bottle and threw into the Atlantic Ocean on a whim in March 1986 has washed up on a beach in Ireland.

Fusani received a letter recently from Irishman Donie O'Sullivan saying he found the bottle on Nov. 22 near the seaport of Tralee in County Kerry on the south coast.

"I got all excited when I got the letter," said Fusani, a retired Buffalo police officer now working as an insurance investigator. "I had forgotten all about it." He said the letter didn't give a lot of information other than the fact that O'Sullivan works for Shell Oil and his address. Fusani has since written back asking for details. . . .

HAPPY BIRTHDAY -- Stephen Bell, Don "Mac" Thompson, Maureen O'Neill, Carol Kelley-Murphy, Chuck Cowdrick, Susan Rooney, Steven Goodsell, Ann Bartoszek, Chris Miller, Mary Ellen Koop, Marilyn Kozlowski, Frank Munzi, Bernice Swiencicki, Sue Egloff, Amy Becker, Caitlyn Grande, Louise Murray, Mary Ann Gawel, Rhonda Brothman, Suzanne Wishman, Matt Tytka, Jerry Pawlak, Mary Pankow, John Lempke, Diane Tyrpak Lucenti, Sister Mary Shepherd, Vicky Lajaie, Eric Galligan, Delores Wright, Carol Willert, Lisa Sember, Veronica Ziminski, the Rev. George S. Cushing, Nicole Ambellan, Anna Hale, Peter Odrobina Jr., Brigette Myles, Christine Gavin, Jack McDonald, Lyle Simmons, Steven Walters, Mike McCabe, Eugene Baran Jr., Janice Maroz and Ardella Losey, Eileen Stevens.

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