Tuesday, June 18, 1996
Catching up with some old friends

BY LAURA PULFER
The Cincinnati Enquirer

In case you are a regular reader of this column (and if you are not, my mother wants to know why), here are some updates on people you have met here.

Jim Ader, the FBI agent who rescued restaurateur Michael Comisar's son from a kidnapper 18 years ago, has been rescued himself. A congenital liver disease left Jim with only one chance - a transplant.

Today is the three-week anniversary of Jim's new liver. He's recovering at UCLA Medical Center, and last weekend, he walked two miles. The ''Jim Ader Hot Line'' at (310) 794-8422 gives bulletins on his condition. So far, so good.

Last time I talked to Joey Newcomb, paralyzed from the neck down in a diving accident, he had just moved the middle finger of his left hand. ''Great,'' I told him. ''Now you'll be able to drive.''

And I was right. He passed his driver's test, completed his junior year at Elder and - wonder of wonders - is often out of his motorized chair and using a walker. He's still doing three days of therapy every week; doctors warn him that someday he'll hit a plateau.

But he hasn't yet.

Colonel Rankin Harrison's purple bull, a signature horror at the just-closed El Rancho Rankin Apartments Motel, had a suitably colorful past. According to Jim Gavin, who helped build it as a homecoming float in 1955, the chicken wire and plaster bull weighed more than a ton.

Marge Schott bought it for $75 and used it to promote a sale at the Buick dealership - ''You can bet there's no bull in our prices.'' Two weeks later, she sold it for $100 to the late colonel, who filled it with concrete and painted it purple.

The ladies of the Delhi Hills Community Council were so fired up by the prospect of shutting down after nearly 60 years that they decided to try to hold things together for at least another year.

''Seventeen determined ladies voted to continue on,'' reports Jean MacGregor, a longtime member. New members welcome. Stay tuned.

Not a week goes by that I don't get a call from somebody who wants the phone number of pet psychic Donetta Zimmerman. So here it is again: 541-2537. She averages about 20 calls a day, and says she can't possibly visit everybody who wants her to talk to their animals. My advice is to try to make your pet sound as intriguing as possible. Whine a little. She is a soft touch.

Donetta has worked with the Cincinnati Zoo, and various veterinarians and thoroughbred racing trainers. They all swear by her, but her favorite friends - not customers, she doesn't take money - are still your basic family pets who have problems.

Wendy Fairley, the little girl who loved and lost an Arabian filly, is just starting to ride her new horse. He's a tall, dark and handsome thoroughbred gelding, injured on the track and given to the 9-year-old by an owner who heard the girl's story. The story is that Wendy fell in love with a scrawny yearling scheduled for sale at an auction of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Meanwhile, in a parallel horsey universe, Patti Wooten of Felicity clapped eyes on this same little horse she just knew ''was put on this Earth for me.'' After outbidding the child, Patti Wooten said, ''I felt like a penny with change coming back. But I knew I could help her.''

She called the filly Destiny and took her back to her 25-acre farm. On a high-protein diet, the rose gray Arabian filly has grown like a weed. ''She's frisky and runs like the wind,'' Patti says.

Fifi Taft Rockefeller, undisputed Queen of Over-the-Rhine, still keeps them hopping at Our Daily Bread, a soup kitchen where she comes nearly every day to socialize, eat and play bingo. ''The Feef,'' as she is known around the courthouse - where she has been a fixture for three decades - is famous for her indecipherable political rampages and her indescribable wardrobe.

I'm relieved to report that although she is painfully thin and gravely ill, the 80-year-old still is as noisy and opinionated as ever, demanding ice cream and attention.

So there's a smattering of good news in case you need some (and if you do not, my mother wants to know if you are crazy).

Laura Pulfer's column appears in The Enquirer Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call 768-8393 or fax at 768-8340. She can be heard Monday mornings on WVXU radio (91.7 FM) and as a regular commentator on National Public Radio's Morning Edition.