Where has it flown?

Today marks the first anniversary of Bob Levey's Washington. The guy typing these words is a little heavier, a little grayer and a little wiser, but no less energetic. He hopes to inflict columns on you for a long time to come.

One thing that hasn't changed since June 29, 1981, is what we're trying to do in this space. Yes, we. As I wrote a year ago, the idea is:

"To make this a hometown column for all Washingtonians, brewed with equal quantities of warmth, wit and wisdom. To make this not my column, but our column--the place to sound out gripes, theories, jokes, anecdotes, whatever. If something's on your mind, my friend, don't be afraid to deposit it in mine. Please write or phone. Subject to change without notice, I'm unboreable."

Well, I can honestly report that I haven't been bored once in the last 12 months--largely because so many of you have taken my write-or-phone invitation to heart.

A lot of you were amused when I published my phone number and address a year ago. Idealistic rookie, you sneered. When his ears turn to Wheatena and his fingers rot from opening envelopes, he'll wish he hadn't done it.

Guess what.

I'm going to do it again.

My phone number is 334-7276. Please don't hesitate to call. I almost always answer my own phone, and I almost always have a minute or so to chat--or listen. Don't be bashful.

My address is Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., 20071. I love getting letters from you, and I try to answer each one. As many of you know, I often write columns based on mail from readers. To paraphrase the beer commercial, if you've got the stamp, I've got the time.

As years go, this column's first one has been successful in almost every respect.

First and foremost, we helped raise more than $430,000 for three institutions that needed it: Children's Hospital, the bands at Eastern High School and the Send a Kid to Camp program of Family and Child Services. There is no such thing as too much appreciation for those of you who contributed. You're generous. You're caring members of the community. You're terrific.

Second, you have encouraged me in my battle to keep Proper English from becoming twisted and tortured out of existence. Never fear, gentle readers. After a year of railing against "Feb-yoo-ary" and "hopefully," my will to fight this good fight hasn't flagged.

Third, you haven't run screaming for the hills when Levey the Proud Father bragged in print about the birth and early childhood of his daughter, Emily.

Thanks so much to all of you for your interest. There'll be much more about The Youngest Levey in the months to come.

For now, in answer to requests for a progress report, Emily is six months old and healthy as a horse. She eats a little like one, too.

She still has her mother's chestnut hair and flashing smile--more of both all the time. She can chortle. She can coo. She can hold a bottle of apple juice with two hands and feed herself. Soon to come: kisses, footsteps and words.

There are only two clouds on the horizon.

First, Emily hasn't yet learned that Seymour the cat prefers to be petted, rather than yanked by the fur. Many is the time Jane and I have dived across the room just an instant before Seymour, claws bared, retaliated.

Second, Emily has developed a curious habit that--Oh, Lord--must have come from her father.

She loves newspapers.

Her love isn't expressed in quite the same way as mine, however. If Emily spots a paper, even if it's lying across the room, she will doggedly crawl over to it and start pawing it.

Then she will start eating it.

I've often cursed The Washington Post for over-inking its pages, as have many of you. Now we have an extra-good reason.

I hope the first year of Bob Levey's Washington has proved to be an extra-good reason for turning to this page every weekday morning. For the perpetrator, it has been challenging and cheering. As the sophomore year begins, I say: thanks for your support, and full speed ahead.