Happy Columnists#039; Day

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 29, 2002

Wednesday, June 26, just happens to be National Columnist’s Day. By chance, one of America’s most beloved and prolific advice columnists, Ann Landers, passed away last week at the age of 83.

I can remember always reading three things in the Montgomery Advertiser as a kid: the comics, of course; anything on books, the arts and entertainment, and the Landers column.

Those were the days before Springer, Povich and their ilk introduced us to purportedly ordinary folks baring their souls (and sometimes a whole lot more) over the airwaves, willing to make complete fools of themselves for that ever-elusive 15 minutes of fame.

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Landers gave advice to her readers through the print media, and that required a degree of literacy on both ends (an ability I sometimes suspect would not be found in some of our current gabfest guests).

While some might not always agree with the advice dispensed, most readers respected and trusted Landers to utilize common sense, fair play and a delightful sense of humor in the responses she gave to the thousands of letters received through her long career.

Landers was, in real life, Esther ‘Eppie’ Lederer, a feisty Jewish housewife who, in 1955, won a contest to replace the original ‘Ann Landers’ after the creator of the column died.

Since I arrived on this earth in 1960, there has never been life for me without Ann Landers, her trademark bouffant flip and those &uot;20 lashes with a wet noodle&uot; she dispensed when a reader had misbehaved. (She was also big enough to admit when she herself ‘goofed’ and so administered the same ‘pasta punishment’ to herself when necessary.)

Landers said in a 1993 interview that her column was &uot;an opportunity to do good in the world.&uot; I believe she succeeded.

As for the rest of us out there aiming to edify, entertain or advise our readers, I believe our goal is the same. That’s why it’s so gratifying when a reader drops you a line, an e-mail, rings you up or stops you at Wal-Mart to say, &uot;Hey, I really enjoyed…&uot;

First of all, it lets you know someone is actually out there READING your printed labor of love. Secondly, it reminds you that, yes, you are making a difference in your own small way. That’s a great feeling.

I salute all my fellow columnists here at the paper and all those across this land who regularly hammer out words of wisdom, humor and help for their fellow Americans.

God bless us, everyone!