Stewie, the world’s longest cat, dies in Nevada

image667RENO, Nevada – Stewie the Cat, the longest domestic cat in the world at more than 4 feet long from nose to tail, has died.

Guinness World Records declared Stewie the record-holder in August 2010, measuring 48.5 inches from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail.

Hundreds of fans flooded Stewie’s Facebook site with memories and condolences Tuesday. The Maine Coon cat was a certified therapy animal that frequently visited a Reno senior center and helped promote animal welfare awareness with the Nevada Humane Society.

“Stewie was always very social and loved meeting new people,” owner Robin Hendrickson said. “He has touched many lives, and for that I am grateful.”

Stewie’s full name was Mymains Stewart Gilligan. Hendrickson bought him from a breeder in Hermiston, Oregon, in 2005. Last month, he attended the International Cat Show in Portland, Oregon.

Breeder Valerie Horton said Maine Coons are the largest domestic breed of cats. She’s been raising them since 1980.

“It’s the luck of the draw,” Horton said. “We mostly breed for type and temperament, and then hope for the size. Stewie’s father came from some very large cats.”

Guinness World Records officials did not immediately respond to inquiries about a successor to Stewie’s record. The previous record-holder, Leo, a 48-inch-long Maine Coon owned by Frieda Ireland of Chicago, died several years ago.

Connecticut couple celebrate 81st anniversary

image665One Fairfield, Connecticut couple is receiving an early Valentine’s Day gift: recognition as the “longest-married” couple in the United States .

John and Ann Betar have been married since Nov. 25, 1932, and this year will mark their 81st wedding anniversary.

The award does not mean the couple is the longest married in the country; it means they have been together longer than all others nominated in the past year.
John is 101 years old, and Ann is 97. The couple have five children, 14 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

“They are wonderful, generous, compassionate and good-humored,” their granddaughter Heather Mitchell told The News. “The way they deal with life’s blessings and tragedies with such grace is one of the things that impresses me the most about them.”

“Their humility is impressive,” said Mitchell. “They don’t think they are unique or special. They think ‘Everyone in our day got married this young,’ and they don’t see how special they are as everyone around them does. It adds to their charm.”

John Betar reiterated that point and told The News, “It’s quite an honor, but I don’t know what it’s for.”

“Rarer than rare” 1865 baseball card sells for $92,000

image664BOSTON (Reuters) – A rare 1865 photograph of the Brooklyn Atlantics baseball team, discovered at a Maine yard sale and considered one of the first baseball cards ever, sold for $92,000 at an auction on Wednesday.

A Massachusetts man offered the winning sum in cash after a brief round of bidding at Saco River Auction Co., said Troy Thibodeau, manager and auctioneer at the company in Biddeford, Maine. Thibodeau declined to name the buyer.

The photograph mounted on a card, known as a carte de viste, is the only one of its kind known to exist, though the Library of Congress has a similar image made from a different negative, Thibodeau said before the auction.

“It’s rarer than rare.”

The card shows nine members of the Brooklyn Atlantics, known as the first champions of baseball, and their coach. The team was a founding club of the National Association of Base Ball Players, a forerunner of today’s National League, Thibodeau said.

“It’s more of a piece of photography than a baseball card, but it’s considered by many to be the first baseball card just by the fact that it was distributed by the team,” he said. “It kind of set the stage for baseball cards after that.”

An antiques enthusiast bought the card at a yard sale last year in eastern Maine, Thibodeau said. It was in a photo album the buyer purchased along with old Coke bottles and oak chairs for about $100.

The owner mailed the card to Saco River after the auction house set a state record in August by selling an 1888 baseball card of Michael “King” Kelly for about $72,000, Thibodeau said.

It was unclear how many of the cards like the one of the Brooklyn Atlantics team were produced. The ball club had them printed and handed them out to fans and players, even those from opposing teams, because the Atlantics were so good at the time, Thibodeau said.

Before the auction, Thibodeau said he found it difficult to place a value on the card because it was so unique but estimated bids might range from $40,000 or $50,000 on the low end to as much as $500,000.

“The key piece of this is not only that it’s a baseball card, but that it’s a wonderful piece of Americana,” he said.

New York library book returned 55 years late, with $100

A long overdue book has finally been returned to the New York Public Library — 55 years late.

The NY Daily News says the biography of a 16th-century priest called “Fire of Francis Xavier” was checked out of the Fort Washington branch in upper Manhattan on April 10, 1958.

Library manager Jennifer Zarr tells the newspaper the book arrived at the library on Monday wrapped in a plain brown envelope with a check for $100 to cover the dues inside.

She says library records don’t go back to 1958 and there’s no way to trace who borrowed the book. She won’t reveal the name on the check.

From The NY Post, The NY Daily News, and Reuters.