Dear Ann:

I read with interest the inspiring letter from your 16-year-old reader in Parsippany, N.J. His message was, "Don't be afraid to fail." It brought to mind the record of a famous American. I hope you think it is good enough to print.

F.W.D., Oceanside, Calif.

I do, and here it is. Thank you on behalf of all the people to whom you have given encouragement today.

Failed in business -- age 22

Ran for legislature and was defeated -- age 23

Again failed in business -- age 24

Elected to legislature -- age 25

Sweetheart died -- age 26

Had a nervous breakdown -- age 27

Defeated for Speaker -- age 29

Defeated for Congress -- age 34

Elected to Congress -- age 37

Defeated for Congress -- age 39

Defeated for Senate -- age 46

Defeated for Vice President -- age 47

Defeated for Senate -- age 49

Elected President of the United States -- age 51.

That man was Abraham Lincoln.

Dear Ann:

I recently celebrated my 87th birthday, and my wife and I decided to have dinner at an upscale restaurant in Hollywood, Fla. The restaurant was carpeted and had stained glass windows. The effect was intimate and cozy, but it was rather dark inside. We were seated directly in front of a young couple. Our chairs were so close they touched.

While we were ordering, I felt something bounce against my chest. I knew immediately it was my hearing aid. I stood up and pushed my chair back to look for it. I apologized to the young man sitting behind me, since he had to stand up in order for me to get out. I told him what had happened, and he immediately got down on his hands and knees and started to search with me.

When neither of us could find my hearing aid, I said perhaps it was too dark to see and suggested we ask the waitress for a flashlight. We both sat down for a moment. Then, the young man tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Look in your shirt pocket." Sure enough, that is exactly where it had bounced.

I was elated, shook hands with the young man and his female companion, and told them they had made our day. Patrons at another table and the waitresses standing nearby applauded. I got up and shook hands all around. When I finally sat down, I turned to thank the helpful couple, but they had left the restaurant.

My wife and I finished our meal, and I asked for our check. The waitress smiled and said, "No check. The meal was paid for by the young man who helped you find your hearing aid."

I have written this letter to you and your readers to prove that cynicism is not the order of the day. There are still good people everywhere.

C.W.L. in Cooper City, Fla.

Your story made MY day. I hope that young man sees your letter and knows how much you appreciated his kindness.

(C) 1999, Creators Syndicate Inc.

To find out more about Ann Landers and read her past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.