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Whatizit?


Last week's "Whatizit?" was water and ice, as many of you knew. Congrats to Bella Fruendt, Carol DenBesten, Dana Oswald, Kristen Bute, Dan and Kathy Higgins, Alfredo Hardin, Russell Martin, Theresa and George Rebersky, Eddy and Jackie Wilch, Carol Maroney, Mike Small, Jan Merchantz, E.J. Oakeuke, RobertSolner, Jane Foley, Carol and Jerry Janicki, Frank and Donna Hirsch, Patty Vandenberg, James Wucka, and Dan and Laura Heneghan.

This week's clue is: The Lizard King. Send responses to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. under the subject Whatizit, and include your first and last names and where you live.

Park Lawn raffle will award trip to Vegas

Just days remain in Park Lawn's contest to win a trip for four to Las Vegas and a stay at the Venetian Hotel.

Tickets are available for $100 each by calling 425-6867 or at Park Lawn, 10833 S. LaPorte Ave. in Oak Lawn. The winner will receive an Italian-themed escape for four days and three nights that includes two suites at the Venetian Hotel, outdoor gondola ride, a visit to Madame Tussauds Interactive Wax Attraction, dinner at a Venetian restaurant, a Vegas show of their choice, and four round-trip tickets on Southwest airlines including hotel-airport transfers. The trip is transferrable to another destination up to a value of $4,500.

The drawing will be held Saturday, Feb. 16 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Alsip during Park Lawn's "A Rhapsody in Blue" live and silent auction. Tickets to the auction are sold separately. Winner need not be present to win.

Park Lawn provides residential and vocational support at 12 facilities throughout the south and southwest suburbs for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The raffle proceeds will benefit the Park Lawn programs and services.

Travel Troubleshooter

By Christopher Elliott

A fee for lighting up in my rental? But I don't smoke

Q: My wife and I traveled to Las Vegas for a trade show. I decided to use my credit card points to cover my car rental through Dollar Rent a Car.

At the car rental desk I was pressured to take the optional insurance, but I told them I had checked with my insurance agent and that I was covered. After 10 minutes of saying "no" she insisted on making a copy of my credit card. I let her and went on my way.

I rented the car for five days, drove a total of 83 miles, and returned the car with a full tank. A Dollar employee checked the car when I returned it and said everything was "OK."

On my next credit card bill I noticed a $125 charge from Dollar, 19 days after the car was returned. I complained to Visa, and a month later I received a letter from Visa saying that Dollar claimed the car needed excessive cleaning due to pet hair, smoke and dirt). We don't smoke and we don't have a pet. Dollar refuses to remove the fee. Can you help? - Joe Galindo, Anoka, Minn.

A: Dollar should have notified you of any cleaning charges when you returned the car, not as a surprise on your credit card bill almost three weeks later. Even if Dollar suspected that you'd smoked a pipe next to your Great Pyrenees after a long day of hiking in the desert, it should have notified you promptly of the cleaning fee and offered evidence of your allegedly messy ways.

What kind of evidence? Well, photos would be a good start. A signed incident report, documenting the condition of the vehicle might work, too. You didn't get any such proof, and neither did your credit card.

But in disputing this charge, you took a shortcut, moving straight to a credit-card dispute instead of contacting the car rental company directly. I might have started with a brief, polite email to Dollar sent through its website, and if necessary, an appeal to a manager at the local or national level.

A credit card dispute removes an entire level of appeal. Think of it as taking your small-claims case directly to a higher court. And speaking of court, your only real recourse after losing a credit-card dispute is to take your case to court. That probably wasn't practical, given the amount of your claim.

I think you would have had a good chance of prevailing in court, by the way. Dollar didn't offer any documentation, as far as I can tell. It simply asked you, and your credit card, to take its word.

I contacted Dollar on your behalf, and it removed the $125 charge from your credit card.

( Christopher Elliott is the author of "Scammed: How to Save Your Money and Find Better Service in a World of Schemes, Swindles, and Shady Deals" (Wiley). He's also the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine and the co-founder of the Consumer Travel Alliance, a nonprofit organization that advocates for travelers. Read more tips on his blog, elliott.org or e-mail him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Christopher Elliott receives a great deal of reader mail, and though he answers them as quickly as possible, your story may not be published for several months because of a backlog of cases.)

History of the World

By Mark Andrews

Feb. 14: ON THIS DATE in 1929, the St. Valentine's Day Massacre took place in a Chicago garage as seven rivals of Al Capone's gang were gunned down.

Feb. 15: ON THIS DATE in 1923, the burial chamber of King Tutankhamen's recently unearthed tomb was unsealed in Egypt. In 1959, Fidel Castro became premier of Cuba.

Feb. 16: ON THIS DATE in 1804, Lt. Stephen Decatur led a successful raid into Tripoli Harbor to burn the U.S. Navy frigate Philadelphia, which had fallen into the hands of pirates. In 1948, NBC began airing its first nightly newscast, "The Camel Newsreel Theatre," a 10-minute program of Fox Movietone newsreel clips with anchor John Cameron Swayze providing voiceovers.

Feb. 17: ON THIS DATE in 1801, the U.S. House of Representatives broke an Electoral College tie and elected Thomas Jefferson president over Aaron Burr. In 1947, the Voice of America began broadcasting to the Soviet Union.

Feb. 18: ON THIS DATE in 1885, Mark Twain's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" was published. In 2001, auto-racing star Dale Earnhardt Sr. was killed in a crash on the last lap of the Daytona 500.

Feb. 19: ON THIS DATE in 1878, Thomas Edison received a patent for his phonograph. In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order giving the military the authority to relocate and intern Japanese-Americans.

Feb. 20: ON THIS DATE in 1809, the Supreme Court ruled that the power of the federal government is greater than that of any individual state. In 1965, the Ranger 8 spacecraft crashed into the moon after sending back thousands of pictures of the lunar surface.

( Mark Andrews can be reached via e-mail at mlandrews@embarq mail.com.)

Blast to the past

Park dist. bringing back rocket slide as part of $1.2M project at Memorial

By Laura Bollin

Memorial Park in Oak Lawn is going back in time. More specifically, it is going back to the 1960s, when it was known as Rocket Slide Park.

Oak Lawn Park District director Maddie Kelly said the park, 102nd Street and Major Avenue, will undergo a $1.2 million renovation this summer. Among the imrpovements will be a return of the beloved rocket ship slide, only bigger and better than before.

"I used to ride my bike from Beverly [in Chicago] up there when I was a kid, it was such a cool slide," Kelly said. "Now, we are replacing the whole playground, and it will all have a rocket ship theme. The rocket ship slide is going to be a huge slide that looks like a tall rocket ship, with all sorts of space toys on it. It's going to be really, really cool."

The park district received at $400,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to help cover the costs of the renovation. Other upgrades will include a splash pad, new playground, bathrooms, walking trails, tennis courts, areas for bean bags and horseshoes, and two full basketball courts.

"We're resurfacing everything so it'll be like playing on a brand new court," Kelly said.

The park district also plans to replace a dilapidated picnic shelter with one covered with a green roof. The shelter will be about the same size as the existing one, and will accommodate as many as 15 people.

Visitors will also see improvements to Memorial Pond. The park district will install a new pier, and add plants and a log fence and rock outcroppings for fishing.

"That park has been in disarray for a long time, and it is an eyesore and an embarrassment to us," Kelly said. "It is going to rejuvenate the whole neighborhood. It will be a place people want to move because it is such a beautiful park."

Kelly expects the renovations to be completed by the end of the summer.