Several complaints arrived while I was on vacation. One was from Maryland State Senator Victor L. Crawford (D-Montgomery).

In telling about the Senate's vote on the "loose load" bill, I reported that Crawford had "taken a walk" just before the voting began. I said that with proponents of the bill in desperate need of 24 affirmative votes for passage, Crawford had walked out of the Senate chamber without voting.

"I wish to take issue with your comments," Crawford wrote. "I have never 'taken a walk' on a bill in my life. I have been willing to stand up and be counted on such issues as abortion, state aid to parochial nam. I would certainly not hesitate to stand up and be counted on a bill regulating the trucking industry.

"I voted against the original motion to substitute the bill for the unfavorable report because I felt the bill had no chance of passage, and I wished to support the committee system. However, after the bill was in fact substituted and was on the floor for a vote, I committed my my vote to Sen. Denis in favor of the bill. I was called off the floor because of an emergency back home. This is the only reason that I was unavailable for the vote.

"I don't know where you got your information but it was obviously erroneous."

The facts can speak for themselves, Senator. The only thing that's obvious to me is that you have just confirmed my report that you walked out of the Senate chamber and did not vote. If you thought you had a valid reason for doing so, you could have issued a statement explaining the matter to your constituents. I think that if newspapers did a more thorough job of reporting on how legislators from their area vote, or why they fail to vote, there would be fewer shenanigans in state legislatures.

Rep. E. G. Shuster (R-Pa.) also complained about my mention of him in my report on the Youth Camp Safety Act hearings. I wrote that Shuster had "hurried in from another meeting" to be present when a fellow Pennsylvinian testified, but had left a few minutes later when she finished, and therefore didn't hear one word of the testimony given in favor of the bill.

"I can certainly understand," Shuster wrote, "that there would be those who, on the face of events, would brand my brief appearance especially on legislation that I have had sincere doubts, as insensitive to the views of all concerned." He explained that he is a member of another subcommittee that was meeting at the same time, and, could not be in two places at once. However, he had later "thoroughly" reviewed all of the testimony given by all the witnesses who appeared.

Shuster promised that "if solid evidence is shown that federal regulation would make camps safer," he would support the bill. If he really reviewed that day's testimony "thoroughly" and found no evidence of a need for federal safety standards for youth camps, then I doubt he will ever find any - and is voting record supports that view. Here again, I think the facts can speak for themselves.

Two of the complaints I received were about comic strips. Melvin Morse noted that a line in the Casey strip said, "On a clear night, he can see the 12 moons of Jupiter." But Melvin says, "Jupiter has 13 moons, and only a maximum of seven can be seen at any given time." I must assume he's right because I've never even seen seven.

A Branda Starr strip contained the line, "The joint would close up like a dead clam," and this moved Bill Neville to write:

"Is it possible that Dale Messick knows something about clams that we have missed? My associates hereabouts insist clams open when dead. We find Dale Messick refreshing in her frequently haphazard and helter-skelter approach to things technical."

No comment. This seems an ideal moment for me to clam up until tomorrow.