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How to win friends and influence me:

Join those of us who believe that the birthday of this country should always be referred to as "Independence Day," not "the Fourth of July."

As we have noted before during our frustrating campaign, every country that uses a calendar has a July 4.

Color me intrigued by the number of young old-timers who are saying they can't enthuse about Mikhail Gorbachev's recent visit because they still recall how a so-called friend named Fidel Castro was lionized in the United States in 1959.

Castro was given special treatment by Jack Paar on the "Tonight Show" and by celebrities all over the country.

Be assured that I am going to check the report that the editors of National Geographic magazine found a man from a country so remote it has not yet been reached by the "Dick Tracy" hype.

Say a prayer for our guys Over There.

Rate your friend a show business expert, June (Bethlehem) Walsh class, if she can name two musical giants who were born on Independence Day.

Consider this thought from Phil (New York Post) Mushkin: "If Nelson Mandela champions the struggle against oppressive government, what's he doing wearing a Yankees jacket?"

Local friends of George Steinbrenner were not surprised to hear that the team's owner picked up the $90,000 tab for Mandela's appearance at Yankee Stadium.

Spare me from characters like the one who phoned to say, "Check the rumor that Donald Trump is starting a new breakfast cereal company named 'You Ain't Gettin' Nut'n Honey.' "

Rate your friend a baseball expert, Richard Slominski class, if he can name the Red Sox pitcher who served Bucky Dent that historic home-run ball in 1978.

Color me hopeful there is no truth to the rumor that on July 9 some disgruntled Sabres fans will send Gerry Meehan a telegram that reads: "A train will be leaving town tonight at 9. Be under it."

Meehan will be busy that day at Glen Oak Golf Club, where the Greater Buffalo Sertoma Club will honor him at its ninth annual Celebrity Golf Tournament.

Rate your friend an American history expert, Andrew Phelan class, if she can name two presidents who died on Independence Day.

Consider this backward joke submission from John Morrissey.

He tells about the day the editor of a New York tabloid told his chief headline writer: "The only big story we have is about those new government housing projects crumbling. See if you can jazz that up."

The second man wrote the lines, "Inside Report! New Blocks on the Skid!"

Hang tough.

Last week's trivia answers:

Ralph Byrd and Morgan Conway were the first Dick Tracys.

Jeff Cook of the Town of Tonawanda, Shirley Crampton of Depew, Dick Linde of East Amherst, Gene Fatta of Tonawanda, Vince Sunzeri, Tom Beatty, Rose LaJudice and Michael Pachla of Buffalo, Marlene Simon of Kenmore, Ray Anselmi of South Buffalo, Thomas Malamas of Williamsville, Ruth Studd of Salamanca and Wilbur Dunn of Newfane remembered that.

Bob Hasselebeck of the Town of Tonawanda, Jimboy Smith and Eddie Stack of South Buffalo, Warren Bosch of Kenmore, Paul Dzierba of West Seneca, Richard Studd of Salamanca, Tony LaRusso and Malamas knew that Vic Raschi served up the first of Hank Aaron's 755 major-league home runs.

Abraham Lincoln of Kentucky was the first U.S. president born in a state that had not been one of the 13 colonies.

Ruth Warren of Orchard Park, Leo Leavers of Snyder, Jim MacTarnaghan and Jacqueline Brown of Depew, Richard Wuertzer of Hamburg, Marlene Simon of Kenmore, John Stachowicz of Buffalo, Harold Potter of Springville, Ruth Lehning of Angola, Dunn, LaRusso, Malamas, Nowak, Pachla and Mrs. Studd had the answer.

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