"The time has come to downsize," declared Anthony G. Denice. He needs a menu maven to do it.

Tony, a reader from Arlington, has an immense collection of restaurant menus. Don't ask how immense, because Tony doesn't know and doesn't intend to spend time finding out.

"They fill two big boxes -- you know, the type you use for storing dead files," he told me. He owns hundreds, maybe thousands. And he wants to give them all away.

He has tried likely institutions, with little success. The Historical Society of Washington, D.C., said it would be interested, but only in menus from Washington restaurants. The local restaurant associations turned thumbs down (and palms up when Tony asked for ideas).

So Tony turned to Levey (he must know that my collection of early Bob Levey newspaper clippings fills half the attic, and has attracted about as much interest as Tony's menus).

Tony's collection will make you nostalgic for former restaurant prices. He amassed his haul between 1945 (when he began it "on a whim" while serving in the Air Force in Sacramento) and 1973 (when two things happened: His wife asked him to stop, and "I got lazy").

Most of Tony's collection is from American restaurants, although "I expanded into Mexico and some countries in Europe." If you're looking to tickle local memories, Tony has menus from Espionage and The Knife and Fork, both very hot local places 40 years ago.

Tony is not looking to sell his collection. He wants to give it to someone who will appreciate it. His phone number is 703-532-2393.

I couldn't let him go without asking how he assembled his collection. Beg? Steal? "A little of each," he said.

How can you hate a guy who's so honest? Please, someone with a sense of history, give Tony a hand. His closet is crying out for it.

My recent rant about cell phone use in restaurants brought forth a torrent of thank yous and attaboys. Many readers said that restaurants that don't ban cell phoning -- either incoming or outgoing -- are off their lists.

But cell phoning in church?

A Northern Virginia reader was kind enough to send me a June 20 bulletin from the church she attends. I won't name it for fear of causing unfair embarrassment. But every parishioner will recognize the church. It wouldn't surprise me if The Man Above did, too.

Here's what the bulletin has to say:

"Special Reminder: Over the past several weeks, it has been noted that people have been answering their cell phones and talking during the consecration of the Mass. Please remember that there should be no talking on cell phones during this most important part of the Mass."

Can any car pool fiasco or business deal be so important that it can't wait until the end of a solemn religious moment?

I couldn't decide which of Barry T. Crickmer's three points was the best, so I'm going to publish all three of them.

Barry, a reader from Winchester, Va., says he has noticed three trends in the English language recently that don't make him smile.

Frown One: "The use of `key' . . . without a preceding article, as in, `Knowing the current buzzwords is key to corporate advancement.' "

Frown Two: "Couple" without "of" tacked onto it, as in "We need a couple beers."

Frown Three: " `Tragic' to describe every death that doesn't result from an execution or natural causes at an advanced age."

I can semi-forgive the first two Frowns. I'm sure they were invented to save time or space. But the third exposes those who fell asleep while studying the ancients.

In that world, a "tragic" death was not an unexpected or extra-sad death. It was a death that involved a fall from grace. Yet another example of how a precise word gets its edges rubbed away by constant misuse.


Lu Larson, of Burke, says a recent Levey column "brought back memories that I hadn't thought of in a long time." It also brought a $50 check from Lu for our annual campaign on behalf of underprivileged youngsters.

In the 1940s and early 1950s, Lu attended a camp near New York City that's very similar to Camp Moss Hollow, where we hope to send nearly 1,000 campers this summer.

That experience "led to a wonderful full life that I might never have had if not exposed to [camp] in my early childhood."

Camp can provide the same lasting value to the kids on our 1999 list. But they won't attend camp without your help. Thank you.

Our goal by July 30: $550,000.

In hand as of June 28: $134,942.32.


Make a check or money order payable to Send a Kid to Camp and mail it to Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C. 20071.


Call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 on a touch-tone phone. Then punch in K-I-D-S, or 5437, and follow instructions.