Karen Springen

Stories by Karen Springen

  • Soles Of Gold

    THE GAME BEGINS IN earnest this week when Dallas Cowboys star Emmitt Smith launches an ad campaign to make American football an official Olympic sport. And before it's over this summer, Smith, Shaquille O'Neal, American soccer star Michelle Akers and a band of international runners will be pitted against track superstars Carl Lewis, Michael Johnson and Jackie Joyner-Kersee, tennis champions Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi and Shaq's Magic mate, Penny Hardaway. Which might lead one to ask: exactly what game is being played here? ...
  • Life In A Parallel World

    ADAM ELDER, 8, SPENDS AN HOUR A day tearing paper and cereal boxes into confetti. Words must be wrested from him like an impacted molar; it is a small miracle when his mother gets him to say "cheetos." His sister, Lily, 6, lives in a parallel universe, too, whose impassable borders are defined by autism. She flaps her hands and covers her ears obsessively. She is so afraid of open eyes that she doesn't look at people. She even blacks out the eyes of the figures in her coloring books. ...
  • The Donut Of Your Dreams

    It's a little cellophane packet, just right for a lunchbox, and it's full of . . . tortilla chips? Not exactly. "This is a serving of vegetables," says Alegria Caragay, holding up the packet. Caragay, a chemist at Arthur D. Little, the Cambridge, Mass.-based consulting firm, heads a team of scientists in search of the food industry's holy grail: junk food that's good for you. No, not just low-fat. Really good for you. ...
  • Authors: Dinner Without Arugula

    At 73, Marion Cunningham is the queen of no-fuss, home-cooked cuisine. In 1979 and again in 1990, she revised the now 99-year-old "Fannie Farmer Cookbook," and she writes a syndicated newspaper column called (what else?) "Home Cooking." A connoisseur of simplicity, she refers to the baking-powder biscuit as "the little black dress of cooking," and hates the term gourmet. "I would make it a law that you cannot have more than five ingredients in any dish, two of them being salt and pepper," she says. Too many chefs "don't know when to quit." She got the job with Fannie Farmer through her mentor, James Beard, a man who appreciated a good hamburger. If she can't have home cooking, Cunningham herself likes Wendy's. ...
  • Rewriting Life Stories

    LAST AUGUST, LORRAINE GRIEVES fell into a familiar pattern: "The rule in my head was, I couldn't have any food, and if I did, I had to Purge." Fearing for her life, the 21 year-old Vancouver woman's doctor sent her to a psychiatric ward where, for three weeks, she sat surrounded by fellow sufferers with feeding tubes dangling from her nose. Under the house rules, anyone who left a meal unfinished was fed liquid calories or plugged into a feeding machine. And if a patient resisted that drill, she was eligible for a straitjacket. Hospital staffers monitored the ward closely, but the women found ways to evade them. Though Grieves weighed just 103 pounds, she did situps in bed and ran in the shower. When hooked up to a feeding machine, she would wait until no one was looking and then disconnect the tubes. "We'd all sit there sometimes with our tube dripping into the garbage," she recalls. "After all, they were giving you the thing you're most afraid of." ...
  • Zeroing In On Breast Cancer

    Charlene Cunningham was 25 when she discovered a lump in her breast nearly four years ago. That was bad enough, but soon her mother, Jo, was also diagnosed with breast cancer. Terrified, Charlene's sisters Julie Maravich, now 30, and Katie Mullins, now 31, had their breasts removed; a third sister could not, because her insurance company wouldn't pay for the operation. Today all but Charlene are well, but everyone in this Philadelphia family worries about what may lie ahead for the children, including Julie's daughter, Alexandra. Now, thanks to a long-awaited breakthrough in genetics research, the youngest generation of Cunninghams may have less to fear than their mothers did. ...
  • And Now, A Clamor For Good Grammar

    So, what should we call the next decade? The Zeroes, the Aughties, the Ohs or the Oh-Ohs? Such weighty questions are debated -- sometimes furiously -- in Copy Editor, a bimonthly newsletter whose subscribers include former copy editor Mario Cuomo and the White House Office of Presidential Correspondence. ...
  • Fat-Free Or Fat Chance?

    It was just a few years ago that food makers promised that fake fats would create a new world of guilt-free chocolate cake and french fries. They haven't delivered yet, but that hasn't stopped the industry from continuing its crusade. Last week Nabisco Foods Group unveiled a reduced-calorie fat. Meanwhile, old favorites like Olestra and Simplesse continued to struggle. Here's an update from the front: ...
  • Gun Sweeps And Civil Liberties

    CHARISMATIC AND BLUNT, CHICAGO Housing Authority chairman Vince Lane has built a national reputation by cracking down on crime in the city's public-housing projects. But last week Lane faced an old adversary-the Illinois chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union-and lost. In a carefully hedged preliminary injunction, U.S. district court Judge Wayne Andersen upheld the ACLU's contention that the CHA's "weapons sweeps" violated both its tenants' right to privacy and constitutional prohibitions against unreasonable search and seizure. Lane, capitalizing on widespread fears about a recent spate of gang-related shootings on Chicago's South Side, vowed to keep on sweeping despite the Bill of Rights. "It's one thing to follow the Constitution," he said. "It's another to attend the funeral of a child." ...
  • A Farm Belt Fuhrer Stirs Up The Skinheads

    GERMANS DON'T PAY MUCH attention anymore when neo-Nazi skinheads beat up some poor foreigner. It's an everyday occurrence, and public outrage is usually reserved for more serious atrocities, such as murder. But when a recent victim turned out to be an American athlete, Germans were appalled and embarrassed. One irony went largely unnoticed. German authorities say the skinheads are stirred up, in part, by an American propagandist, a Nazi from Nebraska who prints a large portion of their hate literature. ...
  • Clear, And Cashing In

    Talk about being patient with a product. Back in 1915, Amoco Oil Co. introduced a new premium gasoline that was crystal clear, not murky yellow like most fuels. The clear gas attracted little attention for nearly 77 years. Then, in September, Amoco marketers discovered a trend they could latch on to: the public's apparent fascination with, of all things, transparent products. Voila! Plain old high octane became Crystal Clear Amoco Ultimate. ...
  • A Quiet Revolution

    Nestled in the Fox River Valley not far from Green Bay, Appleton, Wis., is a quietly prosperous Midwestern city that prides itself on being a real good place to raise kids-which it unquestionably is. Appleton was Joe McCarthy's hometown, and it is now his final resting place. It also boasts the national headquarters of that faded nemesis of American liberals, the John Birch Society. The city and surrounding Outagamie County are heavily Roman Catholic, heavily Lutheran and predominantly Republican: abortion is at best tolerated, and local feminists still tread carefully on the divisive issue of a woman's right to choose. This is a conservative town. ...
  • Too Old, Too Fast?

    Anyone who thinks teenagers spend their afternoons playing hoops, hanging out at the mall--or, for that matter, studying--should meet 18-year-old Dave Fortune of Manchester, N.H. He wakes up at dawn, slurps some strawberry jam for a sugar rush, goes to the high school until 2:30 p.m., hurries home to make sure his little sister arrives safely, changes and goes off to his job at a clothing store. He gets home at around 10:30, does maybe an hour of homework--"if I have any"--and goes to sleep around midnight. The routine begins anew five hours later. Fortune knows he's sacrificed some of his school life for his job. He misses playing soccer and baseball as he did in junior high, and he had to give up a challenging law class because he had so little time for studying. "I have to work," Dave says. "I have to work." ...
  • Egg Rolls For Peoria

    Welcome to the China Coast restaurant in Orlando, Fla., where customers gobble up as much as 400 pounds of rice, 1,500 egg rolls, and 15 gallons of sweet-and-sour sauce every day. In the gleaming, ceramic-tile kitchen, a worker pumps dark sauce into an order of cashew chicken much like a soda jerk dispenses concentrate for a soft drink ("It's the Coca-Cola concept," says a chef). Over in the dining room, an area replete with bamboo and lanterns, Ming Chung Hu, manager of a top-rated Chinese restaurant down the road, samples the fare and smiles. Until he moved to this country from Taiwan, he says, he had never even eaten an egg roll or a fortune cookie, both exclusively American inventions. As for the rest of the menu? "It's not like my Mom used to make," he says diplomatically. "But Americans will like it." ...
  • Fostering The Family

    The world had just about given up on Stacy Tramble, and so had she. At 21, unemployed and using drugs, she was living in a St. Louis shelter. She had left her first child with her mother and put the second up for adoption. Last April, when she gave birth prematurely to a son, Maurice Jr., and tested positive for cocaine, the hospital reported her to child-welfare officials. But Tramble, who at 14 had run away from her own foster family, didn't want to see her baby go into foster care. Neither did social worker Bruce Singletary. He hooked Tramble up with a drug-rehabilitation program, bought her food and helped her find an apartment. He played basketball with her boyfriend, Maurice Williams, and persuaded him to stop violating his parole. " I got attached to Bruce," Tremble says. " I can talk to him very openly. I call him 24 hours a day." Tramble, who is drug-free and intends to go back to school, is determined to bring up her baby. ...
  • Chicago's Career Queen

    First the good news: at least 100 types of jobs should be around and thriving in the year 2000. The bad news: mentioning some of them at a cocktail party would stop conversation faster than a fly in the foie gras. That's the lowdown from author and career-advice columnist Carol Kleiman, who predicts that jailers, truckdrivers, power-tool repairers and insurance-claims examiners will be among the most sought-after employees in the next decade. And as for glamour careers of the 1980s-well, as she bluntly advised a former Wall Street job seeker recently: "The party's over." ...
  • Hooking Up At The Big House

    It should be a TV programmer's dream: more than a million viewers with nothing better to do than sit in front of the tube all day. But this audience is really captive; they're inmates in the nation's 4,000 prisons and jails. Faced with severe overcrowding and limited budgets for rehabilitation and counseling, more and more prison officials are using TV to keep inmates quiet. "I don't want to call it a babysitter, but it's certainly an adult-tender," says Donald Cline, associate superintendent at Missouri's Jefferson City Correctional Center. ...
  • So Much For Family Ties

    Jackie Collins, call your agent. Have we got a script for you! The sharp-tongued wife of a rags-to-riches entrepreneur gets awarded control of her husband's company in a divorce settlement. He lives in a tony Chicago condo, married to a younger woman, while his ex-wife and CEO son run the company. But, apparently, egged on by her glamorous and ambitious daughter, Mom engineers the sudden resignation of her well-respected son. ...
  • Retailers With A Cause

    Ron Kurtz, a 6-foot-5, 265-pound travel consultant, spends his days helping corporations figure out how to market hassle-free travel accommodations. But his own travel is often far from hassle-free. Airline seats are too small for his broad frame. Tray tables don't always fit over his lap. And airplane bathrooms? Well, forget comfort. Until recently Kurtz felt helpless in his quest to persuade airlines to respond to the needs of larger travelers. But recently the large-economy-size flier found a friend in an unlikely source. The King-Size Co., a mail-order clothing business he uses, began lobbying for bigger seats for its 400,000 big and tall customers. "As individuals we don't have that much strength of influence," says Kurtz. "But if corporations bring us together with a unified voice, we can have a lot more power." ...
  • Girls' Afternoon Out

    Odd fact about the Windy City: it's begotten two of TV's windiest talk-show hosts and, probably, its most dissimilar. Who, after all, could be more different from a silver-thatched son of Notre Dame than a weight-obsessed former Miss Black Tennessee? Now another unusual yakker has breezed into Chicago: a Polish-Canadian comedienne who once sang backup for Wayne Newton. Even more improbable, the "Jenny Jones" show debuts this week on 176 stations-the biggest launch in the history of syndicated gabfests. ...
  • A Slippery Pyramid?

    Scott Plachter moved his wife and three kids to Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., from New York City last September in search of a new career and a better life. Things haven't worked out so far. He wound up spending $7,800 on skin creams, shampoo, hair formula, weight-loss powder and promotional materials. Most of the salves and gunks remain stockpiled in his bedroom because his neighborhood has been "inundated" by distributors. "I've had people run away from me," he says. "I feel like such an idiot now." ...
  • Special Issue: How Kids Grow Beating The Handicap Rap

    All along, it had been a troubled pregnancy. Then, in the summer of 1986, when Claudia Sofield was in her sixth month, her water broke. A 2-pound 5-ounce daughter was delivered by Caesarean section. With the help of medical technology, Farrin survived. When she was ready to go home to Newfane, Vt., the doctors said that she would probably develop more slowly than other children, but would eventually catch up. The next year the Sofields became concerned that she wasn't crawling. "Her legs were hard as rocks," says Claudia. "We thought she was strong." They took 13-month-old Farrin to a specialist, who commented on the hard "tone" of her legs and lower torso. "Is there a name for this pattern?" Claudia asked. "Well, yes," said the doctor, surprised at the question. "Cerebral palsy." ...
  • Special Issue: How Kids Grow Good Night, Sleep Tight

    I never knew when he'd wake up, how many times, and for how long," remembers Manchester, N.H., journalist Dale Vincent, mother of 2-year-old Mark. "I was crazy with battle fatigue...After a while, I would have done anything he wanted. I was so desperate for sleep...He called the shots in our household. I felt I was out of control." Vincent is not alone. It's a lucky parent who hasn't gone a few rounds with her sleepless 22-pound featherweight - and lost. Yet too many fail to realize just how much they can influence their child's sleep patterns. ...
  • The Cheery Titan Of Terror

    It came as no surprise to booksellers when Dean R. Koontz's newest novel leapt to the top spot on the best-seller charts last month. Following in the creepy footsteps of "Midnight" and "The Bad Place," Cold Fire (382 pages. Putnam. $22.95) was almost doomed to succeed. After all, more than 60 million copies of Koontz's 55 books have been sold. At 45, he is undoubtedly the least-known best-selling author in America. ...
  • Drop The Kid, Then Shop

    Like any self-respecting 3-year-old, Sean Morgan of Chicago prefers watching Popeye to shopping with his mom. When he heard that a Kids Only Cartoon Theater was coming to the shopping center in nearby Evergreen Park, Ill., he was first in line. Now, a Kids Only veteran, he nonchalantly trades in a brief life history for a bar-coded ID card, and a safety beeper for his mom. Armed with a cup of popcorn, he's ready to catch up with his favorite characters on the big screen. Two hours later his mother, 22-year-old Tracy Morgan, returns and exchanges the beeper for her son. ...
  • Facing The Challenge In Chicago

    A little over a year ago, Ted Kimbrough, the superintendent of schools in Compton, Calif., was looking forward to retiring. Then he received a tantalizing phone call. Would he want to assume the same post in Chicago - a school system that former secretary of Education William Bennett repeatedly labeled the nation's "worst"? Kimbrough, now 56, didn't exactly jump at the chance. But Chicago offered him $200,000 a year - and a historic challenge. For the first time, a U.S. school system was transferring significant power to parent-led neighborhood councils. "Across the country, people are watching," says Joan Jeter Slay of Designs for Change, a Chicago reform group. ...
  • Doing The Right Thing

    Faced with increased public scrutiny, businesses are scrambling to become socially responsibleWhat a difference a new decade makes. In the 1980s, employees of advertising agency J. Walter Thompson attended office Christmas parties at such trendy locations as New York's Palladium night club. This year they worked in soup kitchens, renovated low-income housing and wrapped Christmas presents for hospital patients instead. Throughout the last decade, The Sharper Image traded on its reputation as a purveyor of $5,000 tanning beds and other Yuppie playthings. This year, it's selling "The Recycler's Handbook" and touting its use of popcorn, which is biodegradable, for packing. In the My Decade, Procter & Gamble's Ivory soap commercials emphasized the cleansing properties of its product. In a recent campaign, it features heart-rending scenes of a young gymnast with Down syndrome training for the Special Olympics.Heard about "political correctness" on campus? Now the concept is flooding...
  • Fight For A Name Of His Own

    Two-year-old Anthony Goeppner Garetto is too young to understand but he's having an identity crisis. His divorcing parents, Mary Garetto and Tom Goeppner of Chicago, each want him to bear different surnames. Separated from her husband when she delivered Anthony Garetto, 31, put her maiden name on the boy's birth certificate. Goeppner, 30, says he didn't know a thing about her plan until he saw the tag on the hospital bassinet. ...
  • Sequels For The Shelf

    Talk about pulling a new product out of thin air. Last week Planters LifeSavers Co. unveiled Life Savers Holes--tiny candies that look as if they've been punched out of the familiar rainbow-colored treats. Of course, Life Savers Holes don't really come from holes in Life Savers. Since their inception in 1912, Life Savers have been made by shaping a sugary candy mixture around a rod, a process that eliminates the need for a center. Yet that didn't stop the folks at Planters Lifesavers. They saw gold in them thar Holes. A package of the tiny fruit-flavored drops contains half the amount of candy in a roll of Life Savers but sells for the same price--50 cents. Even sweeter yet, the company was able to launch the new product while saving millions on research, development and marketing. ...

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