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A new fangle

IT'S the end of an era - lawn-mowing and otherwise. The old hand push-mower isn't being oiled this spring, for the first time in 22 years. The hand rake lies similarly neglected. In their stead sits a newfangled gadget - a gas-powered mower.

Necessity mothered this invention. The youngster is graduated and out of the nest. Once-tiny neighborhood offspring are strapping six-footers, busy with homework in spring and holding down ''real'' jobs in summer. And the three-quarter-acre yard grows faster grass every year.

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As yet we haven't actually used our first-ever power mower: A Yankee best accommodates to change gradually. But we did take the top off the box last week and peer in.