One of the joys of this job is that you get to make a great many public appearances. But a luncheon audience of 25 is one thing, and the multitudes in television-land are another. So I jumped at the chance to appear a few days ago on Channel 7's Good Morning Washington.
Once the pro golfers had finished missing putts and the soap opera stars had finished bragging about how talented they are, Bill Gold and I chatted for a few minutes, with the hostess Lark McCarthy, about columnizing. We touched all the bases: how a local column has a special role in Washington, how mine has even more of one now that The Star is gone and how you go about producing a column every weekday.
The answer to the latter is that you take ideas from wherever you can beg, borrow or steal them. So Lark ended by doing me a favor. She asked if I encouraged Washingtonians to call me or write me with suggestions.
"Anytime, about anything," I replied, not expecting any immediate response.
A couple of hours later, Judi Heintz was on the phone.
She is the proprietor of the Shoe, a private day care center in Northwest. Nothing soothes her troops like a little television, and no one takes TV as seriously as young viewers. Her gang had watched me, Judi said, and now they were calling to take me up on my invitation.
So, one by one, passing the phone from hand to jam-covered hand, here's what the youngsters at The Shoe said they want to see in a local newspaper column:
Jib Heintz, 11: "Write about how they're taking food certificates away from poor people."
Kevin Finch, 8: "You should write about the tax cuts and everything. And food prices. Animal food prices are going up and up and up."
Yodit Churnet, 7: "Hi, Bob, I think you should write about people who don't have houses. So many people don't have money to build houses."
Noah Gallos, 7: "I think you should write about that, um, teachers who are going out of my school that are really nice."
Linda Heintz, 7: "I think you-should write about people who have-diabetesbye." Wait a minute, Linda. What should I write? "You should say that when they have a reaction they need sugar right away. If they don't take some, their parents will feel bad."
Thomas Carrington, 6: "I think the people in the world who have been dead, they should be . . . I forgot." Well, try it again, Thomas. "There shouldn't be wars if people are going to be dead in wars."
Paul Mink, 6: "Hi, Bob. I wish you would write about people whose mothers and fathers aren't nice to them. At first they're lovable and cuddlable but then they don't like them when they grow up. Would you write about that?"
Nina Heintz, 8: "Write about that the legends of the Bermuda Triangle aren't true."
Jessica Barton, 7: "Write about ducks that live in the city. I love to watch the ducks going by."
Ellie Hirshberg, 10: "I think you should write about my Mom. She used to work at The Star and she did an interview at two TV stations. They said they didn't have any room. Why did they interview her if there were no spaces?"
I can't explain TV stations or their managements, Ellie. But I do know this: when 10-year-old Washingtonians like you can see the flaws in their elders so clearly, there's hope. Thanks to you, and to all the ideasmiths at The Shoe.