BONITA SPRINGS -- The littlest student in Barbara Smith's fourth-grade class sure knows how to travel.
Chocolate brown and about knee high, R.D. -- the Spring Creek Elementary School's jet-setting mascot and envy of all adults at the school -- logged a whopping 64,000 miles on his frequent flyer card over a span of six months this year.
With a miniature backpack in tow, R.D. Teddy Bear in September left Miami with pilot Randy Danekas, the uncle of student Allison Myers. Their first stop was Frankfurt, Germany.
From there R.D. was passed from one airline crew to another. In all, he traveled through six continents.
"He's caused quite a stir," Smith said in school this week as she leafed through the little fuzzball's journal documenting his days of chasing flight attendants and getting lost in the shuffle.
"We're still not sure where we spent Christmas," Smith said.
From Frankfurt, R.D. spent a week in the Alps in Geneva, Switzerland; a lemon-yellow lift ticket documents the visit.
When he returned to Germany, he was whisked away to Johannesburg, South Africa for springtime.
A few days later, it was off to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, where he visited with a pilot's family who took him sailing.
Not wanting to be a perpetual truant, R.D. even attended school for a time there.
Continuing to fill up his backpack with trinkets from overseas, R.D. stopped writing home and left the Bonita kids wondering for months.
"The kids had him blown up over Iran," Smith said. "You know how fourth-graders are."
R.D.'s "aunt," Gwynne Myers, a room mother in Smith's class, was just as distraught.
"We thought he was doomed," she gasped.
The globe trotting R.D. was taken under the wing of British Airways in jolly old England, one of five different airlines to pass him on.
Next, he jetted off to the Orient, where he had a taste of Thailand after a jaunt in Tokyo.
Somewhere in between, R.D. made it to the "Land Down Under" and crisscrossed the globe, stopping back in London and heading to Jordan in the Middle East and then again back to England.
After resting his paws and spending some time in an English school, it was time for R.D. to come home. The kids in Bonita had made it clear R.D. was to be home by March 1. Page One of his journal said so.
So it was back to Miami.
On Feb. 27, R.D. -- not your average bear -- made a trip across Alligator Alley and was hand-delivered to Smith's North Naples home.
By EILEEN KELLEY, Staff Writer, Naples Daily News, March 08, 1997
A part-time resident of Bonita Springs was charged with aggravated assault Sunday night after deputies said he rammed a car in a local parking lot, then tried to flee the scene with the other driver clinging to the top of his van.
Elmer J. Schultz, 63, of Montera Drive in Bonita Springs and St. Louis, Mo., was arrested at about 11:20 p.m. after a dispute over a parking space at Perkins Restaurant turned ugly.
Witnesses told deputies that Schultz rammed Trevor Minor's 1995 Nissan Maxima with his 1996 Chrysler van after Minor parked in a choice spot near the restaurant's front door.
Schultz was quoted in jail records as saying he got angry "because he took my parking spot and [I] rammed his car."
According to Minor, passenger April Threatt and a bystander, Minor waited as a car exited the parking space and then pulled into the space. The witnesses said Schultz accelerated into Minor's car after it was parked.
Minor climbed out his window because damage prevented him from using the door and approached the van. When Schultz tried to leave the lot, Minot jumped onto the van and held on, reports stated.
Schultz stoped the van after Minor got a short ride, and Minor bailed off, according to reports. Both men waited for deputies after Minor had Perkins management call the police.
Schultz refused to discuss the incident with investigators, reports stated.
by Charlie Whitehead, Naples Daily News, February 11, 1997
Being ugly is not the sole province of young people. This is what gives senior citizens a bad name. I wonder what Schultz' kids are like?
Three years after toughening requirements for getting a gun dealer's license, the government says the number of federally licensed dealers has plummeted more than 57 percent -= from 286,531 in 1993 to 124,286 early this month, the lowest level in 22 years.
Requirements that gun sellers provide fingerprints and meet face-to-face with federal inspectors, as well as higher application fees and more inspections of gun shops, have helped weed out people who used to obtain licenses even though they didn't operate legitimate gun stores, said Raymond Kelly, undersecretary for enforement at the Treasury Department.
Associated Press January 30, 1997
Seminole bats are one of at least four bat species found in Lee County. They weigh 10 to 15 grams and eat bugs, flies, beetles and crickets. They are solitary bats, with short, rounded ears, and red-brown fur. They usually bear one to four pups during late spring or early summer.
Look for the bats flying at dusk. During the day, they hang in Spanish moss or other foliage and behind loose tree bark.
The bats' U.S. distribution is throughout the Southeast and nearly Southeast and nearly coincides with that of Spanish moss. They fly during all seasons, except during very cold weather.
News-Press January 30, 1997