The past two months have been a trying time for me because I haven't had the space to publish the good lines you have been sending in.
Now our Children's Hospital campaign is over. The work is done, and we can have some fun.
We can start with a feminist friend who complains about my referring to my first wife as "the married woman I live with." Our friend sent us year-end greetings that got even with me: "Happy New Year to Bernice and to the married man she's living with."
A reader wrote, "A United Nations dispatch on page A24 of today's Post said, 'Fifteen resolutions were approved unanimously by large majorities of those attending.' Doesn't anybody proofread your paper anymore?" Yes, madam. Editors and proofreaders read our paper with great care, but not always with their minds completely focused on the subject matter. When all the words are spelled right, strange things can slip past them.
A contribution of $28 for Children's Hospital arrived with the explanation, "I have been enjoying The Washington Post for 28 years." A check for $7 came with a note that said, "This is $1 for every inch my son has grown in the 18 months since a wonderful doctor at Children's Hospital discovered why my son had stopped growing." A check for $18 arrived with a short letter: "If my son had lived, he would be turning 18 now. I want to help somebody else's son actually make it."
With a check for $10 from Jacksonville, N.C. (yes, North Carolina, Mr. Proofreader), was the comment, "I always enjoy your column, however wrongheaded it is, even the one defending the doctor who wanted to get out of the service." I didn't defend him, I criticized the Army for misrepresenting and for not getting rid of him quietly. The defense rests.
A check for $25 came with a note that said, "Life has been good to us, and people have been generous. It is our turn to do the same for others." A woman who sent $35 said, "I give in memory of my son, who spent two of his three months of life at Children's. I am grateful to all the people at the hospital who make it possible for a place like Children's Hospital to exist. I must end this note here or I will be writing for the rest of the day to tell you how I feel." The tax laws provide for depletion allowances for coal mines and oil wells, but not for the wear and tear on the emotions of people who have to handle mail of this kind.
The covering letter, in a 4-year-old's print, said, "Here is my $3 for Children's Hospital. It is in my Mama's check." The check was for $28.
A check for $50 from a University of Maryland teacher was enclosed with a note that said, "I wish I could send more, but low-level academics make less than Metrobus drivers do."
A nice round $29 was sent in by a man who wrote, "You must be feeling better. You're starting to bitch about various things. The 29 in this check is for the 29 wonderful kids in '39th Alley' -- which is bounded by 39th Street, 39th Place and Calvert Street."
A check for $23 was accompanied by the logical explanation, "This represents all the nickels I saved in 1978." A check for $100 came with a note that said, "This Hadassah Hen has been sitting here paying bills, a loathsome and traumatic undertaking, and I'd like to write one check that will give me pleasure." A $30 check from the American Embassy in San Salvador came with a letter that said, "I have been sitting here feeling sorry for myself -- so far away from my three children. My husband did not make it through his heart problem as you did." If The Washington Post didn't pay me to write this column, I'd be tempted to pay The Post to permit me to write it.
"I wrote to you 25 years ago to tell you that I made a few dollars selling lemonade for Children's Hospital," says a letter with a $75 check enclosed. "I never thought I'd need the hospital, but then we had our third child, a beautiful boy, who had a congenital defect.
"Two weeks ago, he had surgery, and we learned first-hand about the wonderful staff at Children's Hospital. In less than three days, our son was home again, and back to his normal happy self. We are so grateful."
The contributions mentioned here add up to $458 and bring our shoebox total to $207,518.82. On Monday, I should be able to give you a final report on what gurgled out of the mail pipeline postmarked Jan. 31 or before.
Meanwhile, be advised that Carl Kramer has spotted a bumper sticker that urges: "If you drink, don't drive. Use a 9-iron ."