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Bob Haft, 28, founded the lucrative 38-store empire known as Crown Books in 1977, shortly after graduating from the Harvard Business School. Back then Bob, the son of Herbert Haft, president of the $230 million Maryland-based Dart Drug Corporation, was angered when he was socked with a bookstore bill of $50. “I thought to myself, ‘Does this have to be?’ ” he says. After investigating, he found the answer was no way. Like toothpaste or birdseed, books also can be sold at discount prices. So Haft (who earned his B.A. in economics from the University of Pennsylvania) started the Crown Book operation as a Dart subsidiary in one of the chain’s empty drugstores. Haft, an entrepreneur like his parents(“lf I ever wanted to see them, I’d have to go to one of the retail drugstores”), marked down New York Times bestseller hardcovers by 35 percent and paperbacks by 25 percent. Within two years Crown had expanded to 14 stores. Now with 25 outlets around Washington and 13 in L.A., Haft plans to add a dozen more by Christmas. Critics charge him with squeezing out independents while offering a narrow selection of titles. But Haft, a mountain-climbing, marathoning bachelor who shuttles between L.A. and his Georgetown townhouse, remains unfazed. “Every day is like an election,” he says. “People vote for us by coming in and buying books.”

Cate Cronin remembers that by tradition, “If a woman worked on a ship, it would be in the galley.” So much for tradition. At 24, the 5’7″, curly-haired Cronin is the first woman captain of Clearwater, the 106-foot sloop that sails the Hudson as a river ecology watchdog. The brainchild of folksinger Pete Seeger, Clearwater is a replica of a 19th-century sloop Supported by gifts and grants, it has plied the Hudson since 1969 to dramatize the campaign to clean up the river and its shores. Cate, says Seeger, “is one of the best-organized captains we’ve ever had.” The daughter of a graphic artist and a housewife, Cate grew up in Bangor, Maine and first went to sea in 1975 as assistant cook. (She dropped out of the University of Maine after two years.) “It was hard to get out of the galley and on deck,” Cate admits. But after three years in galleys, including Clearwater’s, Cate finally made it topside. A Coast Guard-licensed inland waters operator, Cate became Clearwater’s captain last summer. Single, she tries to date fellow sailors “who have the same crazy schedules.” Cate ships out from April through November, earning $11,300 a season, and lives with her family the rest of the year. “I can now,” she notes proudly, “call myself captain of a prestigious boat in a field where it’s hard to find a job—whether you are a male or a female.”