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Report to Readers

Report to Readers: Love ‘Dear Abby’? Hate her? Love to hate her?

  • Abigail Van Buren holds a photograph showing her mother and father at her home in Beverly Hills, Calif., Dec. 1986. In 1905, her parents Abraham Friedman and Rebecca Rushall were faced with the decision of a lifetime, whether to leave Russia. It would be 13 years before Rebecca gave birth to the twins who would become America’s best-loved advice columnists. (AP Photo/Doug Pizac)

    Abigail Van Buren holds a photograph showing her mother and father at her home in Beverly Hills, Calif., Dec. 1986. In 1905, her parents Abraham Friedman and Rebecca Rushall were faced with the decision of a lifetime, whether to leave Russia. It would be 13 years before Rebecca gave birth to the twins who would become America’s best-loved advice columnists. (AP Photo/Doug Pizac) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Pauline Phillips, right, the nationally-syndicated advice columnist best known as "Dear Abby," and her daughter Jeanne Phillips, pose after the dedication of a Dear Abby star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2001, on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles.  Pauline Phillips' great-granddaughters Hutton Phillips, right, and Daniela Phillips play next to the star, rear. "Dear Abby" is read by over 95 million people daily in more than 1,250 newspapers, and was also a CBS network radio show for 12 years, with Pauline on-air and Jeanne writing and producing the programs.  (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

    Pauline Phillips, right, the nationally-syndicated advice columnist best known as "Dear Abby," and her daughter Jeanne Phillips, pose after the dedication of a Dear Abby star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2001, on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. Pauline Phillips' great-granddaughters Hutton Phillips, right, and Daniela Phillips play next to the star, rear. "Dear Abby" is read by over 95 million people daily in more than 1,250 newspapers, and was also a CBS network radio show for 12 years, with Pauline on-air and Jeanne writing and producing the programs. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Nationally syndicated advice columnist Dear Abby, also known as Jeanne Phillips, answers questions from high school students after helping to kick off National Inhalants and Poison Awareness Week, which begins March 18, at Audubon Middle School in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles Friday, March 16, 2001.  Dear Abby was also honored at the school by the Office of National Drug Control Policy for her column's commitment to making parents aware of inhalant abuse. (AP Photo/Rene Macura, HO, Rogers & Assoc.)

    Nationally syndicated advice columnist Dear Abby, also known as Jeanne Phillips, answers questions from high school students after helping to kick off National Inhalants and Poison Awareness Week, which begins March 18, at Audubon Middle School in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles Friday, March 16, 2001. Dear Abby was also honored at the school by the Office of National Drug Control Policy for her column's commitment to making parents aware of inhalant abuse. (AP Photo/Rene Macura, HO, Rogers & Assoc.) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Abigail Van Buren holds a photograph showing her mother and father at her home in Beverly Hills, Calif., Dec. 1986. In 1905, her parents Abraham Friedman and Rebecca Rushall were faced with the decision of a lifetime, whether to leave Russia. It would be 13 years before Rebecca gave birth to the twins who would become America’s best-loved advice columnists. (AP Photo/Doug Pizac)
  • Pauline Phillips, right, the nationally-syndicated advice columnist best known as "Dear Abby," and her daughter Jeanne Phillips, pose after the dedication of a Dear Abby star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2001, on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles.  Pauline Phillips' great-granddaughters Hutton Phillips, right, and Daniela Phillips play next to the star, rear. "Dear Abby" is read by over 95 million people daily in more than 1,250 newspapers, and was also a CBS network radio show for 12 years, with Pauline on-air and Jeanne writing and producing the programs.  (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
  • Nationally syndicated advice columnist Dear Abby, also known as Jeanne Phillips, answers questions from high school students after helping to kick off National Inhalants and Poison Awareness Week, which begins March 18, at Audubon Middle School in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles Friday, March 16, 2001.  Dear Abby was also honored at the school by the Office of National Drug Control Policy for her column's commitment to making parents aware of inhalant abuse. (AP Photo/Rene Macura, HO, Rogers & Assoc.)

Okay, okay, we’ll play along.

We’ve published three letters from readers in recent days about the daily “Dear Abby” column, published Monday through Saturday on the Comics page and Sunday inside the Your Life section of the newspaper.

The first two writers insisted that poor old Abby is past her prime. They’re tired of the column and eager for something new. The third writer was a big “Dear Abby” fan – and didn’t like the notion of the Monitor axing her. “The older generation is still with us and still enjoying her words of advice for real situations in real people’s lives,” he noted.

This certainly wasn’t on my agenda until these letters arrived, but it did make me wonder. Is “Dear Abby” still popular after all these years?

For the uninitiated, “Dear Abby” has been around since 1956. It was originally written by Pauline Phillips, under the pen name Abigail Van Buren. Her daughter, Jeanne Phillips, has continued the column and owns the legal rights to the pen name. Pauline Phillips’s twin sister, Eppie Lederer, wrote a similar column (not published in the Monitor) called “Ask Ann Landers,” from 1955 to 2002.

“Dear Abby” answers questions from readers on a wide variety of problems – marital infidelity, surly teenagers, high-maintenance friends and in-laws, rude waiters, you name it. Occasionally we get mail from readers that they’d like forwarded to Abby. And occasionally we get gripes about her advice.

The column has appeared in the Monitor for decades, but she’s not the only game in town. There are newer advice columnists we might consider. Or we could make room for something entirely different – a fresh comic strip or two, for instance.

But as I’ve learned in this job, everything in the newspaper is somebody’s favorite thing. So let’s find out. Do you love “Dear Abby”? Hate her? Love to hate her? Can’t start your day without her? Never even noticed she was there?

Let me know what you think. You can email me at fbelman@cmonitor.com or send a letter to me at Concord Monitor, PO Box 1177, Concord 03302-1177.

I will let you know what we find out – and how we might respond.

(Felice Belman can be reached at fbelman@cmonitor.com or 369-3370.)

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