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REPORTERS' NOTEBOOK

OLAF FUB SEZ: It was American evangelist William Ashley "Billy" Sunday (1862-1935) who declared, "Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile." . . .

ON THIS DAY -- In 1814, the War of 1812 officially ended as the United States and Britain signed the Treaty of Ghent in Belgium. But because communications were slow back then, not everybody got the word, and both countries fought the Battle of New Orleans the following month . . . In 1851, fire destroyed about 35,000 volumes at the Library of Congress in Washington . . . In 1871, Giuseppe Verdi's opera "Aida" had its world premier in Cairo, Egypt, to celebrate the opening of the Suez Canal . . . In 1920, Enrico Caruso gave his last public performance, singing the role of Eleazar in Jacques Halevy's "La Juive" at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. . . .

DRIVING COURSE -- A five-hour course will be offered for prospective adult and teen-age drivers in Room 132 at Tonawanda High School, Fletcher and Hinds streets, Jan. 2 and 9. Students should report at 6:30 p.m. for registration. The class will begin at 7 p.m. Course completion certificates will be issued to participants.

The certificates are required by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles before a road test for a driver's license may be scheduled. A registration fee of $15 is charged, and prospective drivers must have a valid learner's permit in order to take the course. . . .

Love at Christmas
At Christmas our love tends to abound,

Something that should happen all year round,

Like the Divine love that embraces us,

At all time -- not merely at Christmas.

Walter S. Slon
CYRIL "CY" O'CONNELL of South Buffalo has a wife, two sons, a daughter, seven grandchildren and a baseball autographed by Babe Ruth. O'Connell, who retired in 1974 as superintendent of streets for the City of Buffalo, also has other famous names signed to baseballs, including Rogers Hornsby.

O'Connell, 76, got his Babe Ruth signature in 1929 when he played outfield for the national champions of American Legion baseball. The team, composed mainly of members of the St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute baseball team who played for The Burke Brothers, beat a team from New Orleans in the national playoffs in Louisville. The prize for winning was to get to see the 1929 World Series between the Philadelphia Athletics of Connie Mack and the Chicago Cubs.

Babe Ruth was in Chicago to see the series, and O'Connell and a couple of his teammates tracked him down to where he was staying.

"We just barged right in on him," recalled the personable O'Connell. "He was shaving. He was very nice, talked to us and took the time to autograph our baseballs."

O'Connell, who later played semipro baseball during the years of the Great Depression, keeps the baseball signed by Ruth in a plastic case. While in Chicago, he remembered he got to stay in the Lexington Hotel -- Al Capone's hangout and headquarters. "I didn't get his autograph," he said. "I didn't even get to see him." . . .

HAPPY BIRTHDAY -- Denzil Deschamps, Albert Whitehead, Fred Drzewiecki II, Rita Wieczorek, Michael Devine, Julia Jordan, Fran McNamara, Josie DiVincenzo-Sierer, Helen Fredericks, Mary Wagner, Sophia Wagner, David Powell, Don VanHorn, Holly Petrik, Alice Zak, Rachel Pitillo, David Kropidlowski, Kari Mansell, Rick Seufert, Tom Sember, Greg Wildridge, Cynthia Walters, Carol Dixon, Lynda Ram, David Powell, Cindy Laska and Kim Tokarski.

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