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Matt Weinstock

January 9, 2008 |  6:07 pm

Matt_weinstockd Jan. 9, 1958

Passengers on a plane en route to Los Angeles from New York a few days ago were in a state of mild excitement over the presence of Lee J. Cobb, the distinguished actor.

Somewhere over the wide-open spaces the young stewardess approached Beatrice Bardacke, an administrator with the Fund for the Republic, and whispered, "See that old man over there in the corner?"

Beatrice looked in the direction indicated.

The stewardess continued, "I think he's a little hurt about all the fuss that's being made over Mr. Cobb. No one has even noticed him. I wonder if you'd go over and talk to him. Tell him you recognize him."

Then she added blankly, "His name's Mischa Elman."

EVERYONE HAS uttered or heard the familiar inquiry, "Where've you been?" And the familiar reply, "Oh, no place."

1958_0223_kwai_2 Well, reports publicist Chet Swital, there actually is a "no place"--the juncture of Longitude 0 and Latitude 0, off the west coast of Africa.

A person would have to fly or sail over the exact spot, which is ocean. However, two nearby islands, Annobon and Fernando P'o, are probably as close as anyone would want to get to no place.

The reason Chet knows all this is that he had just received letters from Annobon and Fernando P'o. Curiously enough, the Annobon letter was from the city of California. They were responses by amateur cameramen, one on each island, to an article Chet wore for a Spanish trade publication seeking film strips on, of all things, the giant coconut crab.

If anyone anticipates a punch line here, stop dreaming--all this is from nowhere.

AS ANY WRITER will tell you, the New Yorker is probably the most difficult magazine to crack. But not for Richard M. Doyle of San Gabriel.

Last November, he read in the Machias Valley (Maine) News Observer that the Main Central Railroad had discontinued passenger service on its Bangor-Calais branch. As a boy he frequently took that ride.

Recalling E.B. White, essayist and humorist, frequently wrote about Maine, Doyle wrote a reminiscent letter about the old line.

White liked it and it's in this week's New Yorker. It was Doyle's first venture into writing of any kind.

REMEMBER the item here about the housewife who ran out of bread and borrowed some from her next-door neighbor, who wasn't at home, and left a note, "Mice"? Well someone, presumably the neighbor, borrowed some milk when she wasn't home the other day and left a note, "Meow."

SO YOU DON'T think the cops and robbers motif which dominates TV influences children?

Alan Litz, 7, of Montebello has discovered that a croquet mallet can be quite an equalizer in dealings with bigger boys. Apparently they've discovered it too. A neighbor, Bobby Perrenoud, 8, came to Alan's door and said to his mother, "I can stay until 5 o'clock--unless there's trouble."

MISCELLANY -- The Let's Have Better Mottoes Association selection for January is "Coming to work doesn't hurt--it's the long wait to go home"...

Tom Cracraft has figured out what's wrong with TV programs in "compatible color." They don't compat--at least not on his set...

"Where can I send my Christmas cards?" a reader asks. Don't know. The places I checked already have an oversupply. If any further word, I'll report it.

Cully of Culver City postcards: "If we got all the government we pay for we'd be in a heck of a fix"...

In the event you hadn't heard, Take Tea and See Week starts tomorrow...

Councilmen Ernest Debs and James Corman have a $1-a-pound bet on their postholiday reducing campaign. Thought the cottage cheese industry would be glad to know.