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Thanks for Writing

June 25, 2002

Dear Ann Landers: From 1955 to 2002 we read your down-to-earth advice columns. We laughed. We gasped. We nodded in agreement mostly. But always we were impressed with your curiosity, human warmth, reporting and judicious judgment as America's public aunt. When you began your first and last real job, acne, petting and sassy teens were common fare. Now, it's AIDS, spouse and child abuse and strippers with secret lives. How did you, Eppie Lederer, the daughter of a poor Russian Jewish immigrant who sold chickens in Iowa, stay so current, so compassionate and so true to fundamental values amid 2,000 letters per day? --AMAZED IN ATLANTA

Dear Amazed: It's not who your ancestors were. It's what you achieve yourself that counts. I'd much rather be posted on 1,000 refrigerators than win a Pulitzer Prize.

Dear Ann: We've always marveled at your topic range. Nude slumber parties? You were clearly wrong about toilet paper; it should roll off the top, not from the bottom. But your concise advice and frequent referrals to professional societies helped so many letter writers and countless more letter readers in 1,200 newspapers around the world.

It was part of a day's opening ritual. Even if we missed some, on our return at least your attitude, breeziness, good humor and helpfulness never changed in this too-dynamic world. When the subject was far from our own experience, we still read on because in part, thank goodness, it wasn't our problem, but also because your common sense, tart at times, helped develop useful approaches to such thinking. --PRAISING IN POMONA

Dear Praising: So what's your point?

Dear Ann: I heard that at a fancy London lunch once you turned to an exiled king and said, "So what should I call you?" The king replied, "Your Highness." So you said, "Cut that stuff out!" Was that polite?

--QUERULOUS IN QUINCY

Dear Querulous: He's just another person.

Dear Ann: Were you really 83, and how did you convince your boss to let you work from a custom-made bathtub in your luxurious, art-filled apartment overlooking Lake Michigan?

--JEALOUS IN JOLIET

Dear Jealous: Mind your own business.

Dear Ann: We understand that since the January diagnosis, you kept your bone cancer a secret from even close friends. We also understand you dictated the last line of your last column, to be published in late July: "Thanks for writing." Can we make that the headline of our editorial about you?

--APPRECIATIVE IN L.A.

Dear Appreciative: Thanks for asking. Now, get a pet.

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