Southern Signs Invade Yankee Town

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It's a long way to Alabama from Easthampton, Mass. Too bad a road crew didn't notice.

Residents of the western New England town were puzzled recently to see the squashed outline of "the Heart of Dixie" on new signs indicating the intersection of state Routes 10 and 141, the Boston Globe reported.

"We thought it was Connecticut turned upside down," said a spokeswoman for the contracting company that installed the signs.

"Actually, we didn't know what it was," said another employee, who said the contracting company got the signs from a third party. "We didn't really question it, because the numbers were correct."

Joe Pipczynski, the town's supervisor of public works, thinks the contracting company simply opened up the federal manual regulating highway signs and sent the sign maker the illustrated example, which just happens to be for Alabama, the first state alphabetically.

Correct Massachusetts state road signs simply feature black letters on a white square background. Pipczynski said the contractor won't be paid until the signs are fixed.

— Thanks to Out There reader Russ L. Click in the photo box above to see the wrongly situated signs.

Crazy Is as Crazy Does

LITTLEVILLE, Ala. (AP) — A 26-year-old vagrant was charged with indecent exposure after police found him standing naked in a cornfield chewing on a cob near a country club.

"He said he wanted to see the house where Forrest Gump (search) lived," said Police Chief William Nale.

Gump is the fictional character in a novel by Alabama author Winston Groom (search) that became a hit movie.

The Littleville police chief declined to release the man's name Tuesday, but said his family lives in Michigan and he had been in a California institution earlier this year. After his arrest, the man was taken for a mental evaluation.

He was spotted Monday morning near Twin Pines Country Club (search).

"He was standing in a cornfield, picking the corn and eating it raw," Nale said. "He didn't have anything on, not even his shoes. He was as naked as the day he was born."

Authorities said the man was taken into custody without any trouble.

"I asked him where his clothes were and he said he got hot [Sunday night], took them off and laid them on the railroad tracks and then couldn't remember where they were," Nale said.

The suspect told authorities that he was a homeless drifter following the railroad tracks to south Alabama, where he thought he would find the Gump home.

— Thanks to Out There reader Jason H.

Pat-Down Screener Patted Back

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — A woman who was upset over being searched bodily at an airport was convicted Tuesday of assaulting a security screener by grabbing the federal officer's breasts.

A federal jury heard the case against retired teacher Phyllis Dintenfass, who also allegedly shoved the screener during the search at the Outagamie County Regional Airport (search) in Appleton in September 2004.

On Monday, Transportation Security Administration (search) screening supervisor Anita Gostisha testified that Dintenfass activated metal detectors at a checkpoint, and she heard Dintenfass say she thought the problem was bobby pins and barrettes in her hair.

Gostisha said she took the woman to another screening area, where she used a handheld wand. Gostisha said she was following protocol when she also performed a "limited pat-down search."

Gostisha said she was using the back of her hands to search the area underneath Dintenfass' breasts when the woman lashed out at her.

"She said 'How would you like it if I did that to you?' and slammed me against the wall," Gostisha testified. "She came at me and grabbed my breasts and squeezed them."

Dintenfass claimed she acted in self-defense.

"I said, 'What are you doing? No one's done that to me before,'" she said. "And she kept going ... for what felt like an interminably long time."

Dintenfass, 62, faces up to a year in federal prison and $100,000 in fines. The judge set sentencing for Nov. 1.

Airline Loses Drug Smuggler's Luggage

VIENNA, Austria (AP) — It's one lost item that's not likely to be claimed.

Police at the Vienna Airport found 53 pounds of cocaine worth an estimated $16 million at a lost-and-found counter. The narcotics were in a suitcase that had been at the counter for almost a month, police said.

The suitcase had been mistakenly checked in at Mexico City along with the luggage of a 60-year-old Austrian tourist, who left it at the lost-and-found counter.

The drugs were placed in 22 bags wrapped in an oily, foul-smelling paper, in an apparent attempt to irritate police dogs specially trained to detect narcotics, police said.

We'd Like 20,000 Uncooked Pizzas, Please

SEASIDE, Ore. (AP) — Millions of dead anchovies have washed up on the banks of the Neawanna River (search) on the northern Oregon Coast, biologists said, giving off a putrid stink of salt water, seaweed and sewage.

Biologists say such mass deaths are perfectly normal, and probably caused in this case by an increased food supply, allowing a greater number of anchovies to be born.

"That's the way nature works," said North Coast Land Conservancy (search) Director Neal Maine. "You get too many, then they take all the oxygen out of the water."

In the 1960s, Maine said, so many anchovies died in the river that the bodies were knee-deep.

Seaside Mayor Don Larson said the city is waiting for the tide to remove the bodies. Public health official Lynn McConnell said there are no known health problems from the anchovies, but advises the public to stay away from the fish if possible and wash hands after touching them.

Skunk Takes Advantage of Store's Air Conditioning

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. (AP) — Even skunks need a break from the heat.

One of the white-striped critters managed to halt business for a few hours Tuesday at a normally busy drug store near Binghamton.

The skunk wandered into the Eckerd Drugs store in the town of Chenango as temperatures soared into the 90s.

Store workers managed to confine the animal in an entrance area. Would-be customers were turned away while the skunk enjoyed the store's cool climate.

One employee said she thought the skunk was "cute."

Several workers watched its antics from a safe distance until a pest control expert managed to coax it into a cage by early evening. An employee says the removal was accomplished without upsetting the skunk.

Compiled by's Paul Wagenseil.

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