At first, reader inquiries about the Equal Right Amendment didn't have much impact on me. But after a while, they began to get under my skin.
"What is all this stuff about unisex bathroom?" one man asked. "What is the exact wording of the amendment as it relates to this matter?"
"Does ERA really mean that women would be drafed for combat duty?" a woman wanted to know.
"Would you please print the full text of the Equal Rights Amendment so that I can read for myself what it says about pension plans, annuties and life insurance?" another reader requested.
Each time I received a letter of this kind I became a little bit more curious myself. At one time I thought I knew what the amendment said, but these questions from readers were putting doubts into my mind.
So I went to our Post library and asked for the precise text of the amendment. About 30 minutes later, I was brought the "final proposed" text of the amendment.
I said, "No, gosh darn it," or something like that. "I want to see the actual text, not a proposed text."
"We don't seem to have published it very often," was the weary reply. "I'll keep looking."
I trudged out to the newsroom and told a colleague of my problem. "Well, he said sagaciously, "You can't expect us to print the full text of such a complicated measure every time we run a story about a state legislature approving it or rejecting it."
I phoned Dick Lyons, who has been covering Congress for The Washington Post since Daniel Webster's time. "Richard," I said, "I need the official text of the Equal Rights Amendment."
"I think I can quote it to you off the top of my head," Lyons said, "but I guess you'll feel better if I get you a printed text, right? Will do."
The text supplied to me by Lyons consists of three sections, which I now quote in their entirety:
"1. Equality of rights under law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex.
"2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
"3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification."
If this be either unisex bathrooms or treason, make the most of it. If there has ever been a proposed amendment to the Constitution about which so much misinformation was circulated, it does not come readily to mind. TIME MARCHES ON
A few years ago, Margaret Russell of Silver Spring "had the task of cleaning out the home of a friend who was going into a nursing home," where she later-died.
The woman had "kept everything," and Mrs. Russell also found it difficult to throw away some of the things her friend had saved. So she saved them, too.
But eventually some things must be pitched out or there's no room left for people, so Mrs. Russell has sent me several of the pieces of paper she's been saving. One is a receipt made out to "Gen. Crocker, 1419 K St. "Gen. Crocker had paid 50 cents for his subscription to The Washington Post for one month. The date was Jan. 31, 1882.
There is also a receipt written to Gen. Crocker on June 6, 1894, but I hesitate to mention it. By that time, inflation had boosted our subscription price by 40 percent -- to 70 cents a month. How APPROPRIATE!
Al Brogdon of Damascus wonders why I didn't call attention to the specials advertised by Peoples Drug for Mother's Day.
One of the most timely articles offered for Mom was a kit with which she could monitor her blood pressure.
That's even better than the chocolates with Valium centers, Al. The reason I didn't mention the blood pressure kit was that I hadn't noticed it. THESE MODERN TIMES
"Milestones," which is published by the Miles Glass Co., carries this entry in its current edition:
"An Ohio college professor says that some of the students who come to him are so lacking in mathematics they couldn't divide three pizzas four ways."
If you don't mind my using my pocket calculator, I'll bet I could work it out. Are those pizzas with sausage or anchovies? SUGGESTION BOX
Bless Changing Times' heart, it has come up with a wonderful idea: Convert the Dow Jones Industrial Average to the metric system. That way, a drop of 5 points would be only 2.8 celsius. YOUR HOROSCOPE
Regardless of your birth date, my crystal ball indicates that you are about to take an all-expense vacation.