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DEAR ABBY: I was housecleaning and came across a clipping of a column I had kept since 1958 - the year my daughter graduated from high school. I reread it, and Abby, I want you to run it again because the kids of today sure can use the advice you gave 33 years ago. I hope you agree with me. I am 74 years old and have 11 grandchildren. - ETHEL TAYLOR, WAYNESBERG, KY.

DEAR ETHEL: I agree. Here's the letter, and thanks for asking:DEAR ABBY: A year ago, I was a poor student, shy, lonely, friendless, unhappy, and I never smiled. I wrote to you, and you gave me the best advice I ever received. Here it is:

"The key to being popular with both sexes is: Be kind. Be honest. Be tactful. If you can't be beautiful (or handsome), be well-groomed, tastefully attired, conscious of your posture, and KEEP A SMILE ON YOUR FACE.

"Be clean in body and mind. If you're not a `brain,' try harder. If you're not a great athlete, be a good sport. Try to be a standout in something. If you can't dance or sing, learn to play an instrument. Think for yourself, but respect the rules. Be generous with kind words and affectionate gestures, but save the heavy artillery for later. You'll be glad you did. If you need help, ask God. If you don't need anything, thank God. - LOVE, ABBY"

I followed your advice, step by step, and kept it handy when I felt low. I am now president of the sophomore class and I play the guitar. Smiling comes naturally to me, and I have a boyfriend who is kind and respectable. My grades are better, and I have more friends than I ever dreamed I'd have.

Abby, you're not the only one who helped me. God helped me. He answered my prayers. - CAROL

DEAR ABBY: Since you're so smug about using the word "waitperson," I decided I ought to point out what children's verse would be like if Mother Goose - I mean Parent Goose - had lived in this day of linguistic lunacy. Here is a sanitized version of a sex-ist/-ageist poem by the Goose:

There was a person of undisclosable age

Who lived with his or her kids in a shoe.

"Unless quickly you remind me,

"Giving me privacy, kindly,"

Said she or he, "I'll slap a lawsuit on you!"


P.S. For the sake of consistency, please don't forget to use "actperson," "bounceperson," "carpentperson," "engineperson," "farmperson," etc. - FROM COLUMBUS, OHIO

To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054. (Postage is included.)