With the Persian Gulf boiling over, His Holiness arriving on our shores to comfort and woo an uneasy flock, interest rates going up, trade deficits hitting new highs, corruption in the District government, Gary Hart seemingly back on the campaign trail, Post readers nevertheless seemed to be preoccupied with a single seething question this past week: Did Anne Paske get her storm door replaced?
It may be heresy to say this, but hardware czar John Hechinger proved to be more nimble than Post Publisher Donald Graham. For those who do not keep up with the important news of the day, we recounted in this space last Sunday the plight of Mrs. Paske, whose storm door had been bent so out of shape, it might have been a drafty house this winter. The storm door came from Hechinger; the heavy dent, courtesy of The Post, which slammed into it on delivery.
I called Mrs. Paske on Labor Day to say that because the week had started with a holiday, there was unlikely to be any reaction from anybody until midweek. Replied Mrs. Paske: "Well, a man from Hechinger was here this morning to measure the door." Installation was completed on Friday.
It would be remiss to leave you with the impression that all the calls and letters were anxiously inquiring about the storm door. Reader complaints continue, unrelenting, which shows the paper is getting delivered to some people anyway.
There were numerous outcries about the paper's new weather page -- which was redesigned to meet grievances of readers who turn to the weather before looking at sports, stocks, Style, general news or the comics. A weekend sailor advises that what he now learns from reading the weather data he can find out a lot easier by sticking his head out the window.
Reader Jeanette Nick of Annandale points out that the new tables no longer give the temperature for Cleveland, only Columbus, which is 300 miles away. Another reader says he finds it considerably inconvenient that The Post no longer reports the weather for yesterday in various cities around the country. My suggestion that he just save today's chart and read it tomorrow made him mad. Paul Hodge, who edits the weather data, takes these complaints far more seriously than I. He is fighting for more space, and promises that in another few weeks, he'll have every weather-hungry reader purring. Lots of luck.
Perhaps the most unusual complaint was about a paid ad; I must say it made my day. There, in last Tuesday's death notices, in agate type, was the announcement of a man's passing in the usual solemn format, noting that he "departed this life at Union Memorial Hospital . . . leaving behind an eccentric wife . . . and five children." If you want to liven up a death notice, that's one way of doing it.
Sgt. Bill Boyd, acting on his own but saying he was speaking for a lot of his buddies, objected to an otherwise marvelous story that had everything -- including the suggestion, unfortunately, that the U.S. Army was to blame for a cat and her three kittens' being hurled into a river from a bridge 50 feet high. A waitress at a riverfront restaurant, witnessing the incident, jumped into the river and rescued the brood. The story said that eyewitnesses reported the four felines were thrown from "an Army truck." Sgt. Boyd raised a number of questions: Was The Post sure it was an Army truck, and not an Air Force or a Navy one? (The witnesses said it had "U.S. Army" on it; the sergeant said it could have been a truck sold as surplus with the markings still not removed.) Were the men in uniform? The witnesses said they were not, but the story failed to point this out. Regardless of who was at fault, it was nice to know there are men proud of enough of their uniforms to call the ombudsman in anger. The mother and kittens are in good shape, incidentally, and so apparently is the U.S. Army.
The most difficult grievance to cope with came from reader Mark Oller of Falls Church. It was aimed at The Post's Religion page. He says he's an atheist and wants equal space. How does one answer a complaint like that? I hesitate even to bring this up for fear that some reporters at a press conference with the pope, suddenly aware that they aren't interviewing a presidential candidate and at a loss for questions, might ask this question. To that, I say: pray don't. His Holiness has enough problems this tri