A week ago today it was reported that Pauline Phillips, better known as Dear Abby died at age 94 after suffering for years with Alzhiemer’s. The Dear Abby column sparked my first interest in reading the newspaper. While eating breakfast I’d grab the morning paper and quickly read her advice before heading off to school. Of course, she’d already been dishing out advice for nearly fifteen years before my addiction to her column began.
Her advice about how to handle problems with friends and family and love seemed to speak to me. Even though I rarely experienced the problems she addressed, I felt reading her advice prepared me for entering the adult world. She taught her readers, me included, to stand up for themselves, mind your own business, and that asking for help was acceptable.
This week the New York Times asked readers to share their favorite advice from Dear Abby. I found it interesting that I remembered reading these words of wisdom.
Is your life better with him or without him?
If you can’t afford to tip, you can’t afford to eat out.
If blinded by the lights of an oncoming car, keep your eyes on the white center line.
From her book, The Best of Dear Abby, the following letters and her responses are so typical of her advice:
“Dear Abby: I have always wanted to have my family history traced, but I can’t afford to spend a lot of money to do it. Have you any suggestions?” — M.J.B.“Dear M.J.B.: Yes. Run for a public office.”“Dear Abby: What has happened to you? You used to encourage married couples to do everything in their power to save their marriages. Lately you give the impression that divorce could be the answer for some couples. Why?” –Faithful Reader
“Dear Reader: Because I think it’s more important to save people than marriages…”
“Dear Abby: A woman who was married for 46 years wrote a long story about how hard her husband was to live with. She asked you whether she should choose divorce or suicide. You told her divorce was preferable. Are you married to a divorce lawyer, Abby?” — Nosy
“Dear Nosy: No. Are you married to an undertaker?”
“Dear Abby: Please tell me what to do when a friend has an abnormal child. I certainly can’t send a card or a gift of congratulations to someone who has had such a tragedy… Should something like this be acknowledged at all?” — Oklahoman
“Dear Reader: A child, normal or otherwise, is a child to his mother. Don’t differentiate. Send a little gift with your love and best wishes.”
“Dear Abby: My problem is my sorority sister. I’ve fixed her up with with several real sharp guys, but they never ask her out again because she’s so quiet. They all say it’s like pulling teeth to get a word out of her. Any suggestions?” — A.E. Phi
“Dear Reader: Yes. Get her a date with a dentist.”
Dear Abby provided great advice to millions. We miss her voice of reason.