Q. Can you tell me about the green Illinois license plates with the cardinal I'm seeing in parking lots lately? I don't remember reading about any change in our plates.
-- J.G., of Belleville
A. You've started seeing green in parking lots because Illinois may be seeing another kind of green -- money -- in license plates.
You may not have noticed, but long gone are the days when you had to screw on the same boring plate as everybody else in the state. Now if you go to the secretary of state's website to buy your tags, it's like Illinois has opened Walplate with literally dozens of styles to choose from.
For sports fans, there are plates for the Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs and White Sox. For college alums, there are plates to show your pride in 11 colleges, including SIU and the U. of I. There are two dozen military choices to display your service, your medals or that you're a gold-star mother.
Want to brag that you're a farmer? Or remind people about autism? Or say that you love Route 66 or your cat? They have you covered.
What you are seeing is a plate with a cardinal and the letters "EN" that shows the driver's support for environmental causes -- although I suspect some sports fans may be buying them to root for St. Louis, since the state apparently still has not reached an agreement with the Cardinals for a true baseball plate.
But as I said, it will cost you a wad of green to go green -- up to $163 for switching to a vanity plate. Happy shopping at https://www.ilsos.gov/PickAPlateWeb/index1.html.
Q. I have enclosed two pieces of candy that I used to see everywhere, but can't find any longer. They're pink, have "Canada" written on them and have a wintergreen flavor. Please help. Sorry, I don't know their name.
-- Barbara Elmore, of Granite City
A. OK, sweets for the sweet: You're looking for Canada Wintergreen as made by the New England Confectionery Co. (better known as NECCO), which traces its history to 1847 and Oliver Chase's invention of the lozenge cutter.
After first popping up in Canada in the 1880s, they're still being made, too, in spearmint, peppermint and your favorite. Where they're sold is a bit unpredictable, but the company makes them not only under the NECCO name but for store brands as well.
Now for even sweeter news: I decided to be your candy concierge and looked for them as I was picking up milk at CVS in Belleville. Sure enough, I found 4-ounce bags of the pink treasure for 99 cents under the CVS Gold Emblem label -- complete with the "Canada" imprint. They're in the bagged candy display. NECCO says it makes them for Walgreen's, too, but I couldn't find any in the store I checked. Walmart lists them on its website, so you might want to check there as well.
Otherwise, they're all over the Internet from www.neccostore.com to amazon.com. Compare prices through the websites listed at www.necco.com/FAQs.aspx, but at oldtimecandy.com, for example, you can buy 2 pounds for $7.99.
Sorry, mateys: Before someone makes me walk the plank, I apologize that because of space limitations, I recently omitted a couple of aircraft carriers that are open to the public.
Now, I find one has a local tie. James Tipton, of Swansea, tells me that his late father, Richard, was a career Navy chaplain -- including service on the USS Coral Sea -- before retiring in 1981. He was the son of the Rev. R.R. "Jack" Tipton, who founded Pleasant Valley Baptist Church, which this year is celebrating its 75th anniversary in Belleville.
Although Richard did not serve on the USS Hornet, you'll find his vestments on display in the chapel area of that carrier at historic Alameda Point on San Francisco Bay. (It was the ship that recovered Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing.) For details, go to www.uss-hornet.org.
You also can head south to tour the USS Lexington, which the Japanese called "The Blue Ghost" because they thought they had sunk her four times. See her in the bay across from downtown Corpus Christi, Texas (www.usslexington.com).
Key finding: I wish the woman with the Gulbransen tiger oak piano would call back and leave her number if I'm not here.
After 30 years, what U.S. swimmer is still trying to regain the gold medal stripped from him at the Munich Olympics?
Answer to Thursday's trivia: It starts out like a Seinfeld script: In 1960, marathoner Abebe Bikila was added to the Ethiopian squad at the last second after a teammate broke his ankle in the soccer game. By that time, Adidas, the shoe sponsor for the Rome games, was short on sneakers and the ones they had didn't fit Bikila. So, two hours before the event, he decided to run the race just as he had practiced: barefoot. He sped to a gold medal, covering the 26.2 miles in 2:15:16.2, a full 25 seconds ahead of the closest shod rival.
Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427 or firstname.lastname@example.org