DEAR ABBY: I am a man who used to think your column was just another women's gossip column, so I never bothered to read it. Then my wife called my attention to something you wrote, and I'm glad she did because I have been an avid reader ever since.
Abby, I have a question you probably have been asked before. Are you a descendant of President Martin Van Buren? His wife's name was Abigail. -- BRANDON WELSH, PHOENIX
DEAR MR. WELSH: No, Abigail Van Buren is my pen name. However, Martin Van Buren's wife's name was not Abigail -- it was Hannah. Hannah bore him four sons, then died, leaving Van Buren a widower.
Martin Van Buren moved into the White House with four bachelor sons. One day, Dolley, the wife of James Madison, our fourth president, came to the White House accompanied by her beautiful young niece, Angelica Singleton, who was visiting from South Carolina.
President Van Buren's eldest son, Abraham, promptly fell in love with Angelica. They were married shortly after and moved into the White House where Abraham served as his father's private secretary, and Angelica assumed the duties of the first lady.
However, there were two presidents whose wives WERE named Abigail -- John Adams (our second president) and Millard Fillmore (our 13th president).
I have probably told you much more about American presidents than you care to know, but I became fascinated with the American presidents B.C. (Before Column), and have been hooked on the subject ever since.
DEAR ABBY: What is this world coming to? My hairdresser, who is gay, told me that a powerful gay group is trying to legalize same-sex marriages.
Abby, I have nothing against homosexuals, but I can't understand why they need a "license" to live together. Please enlighten me. -- FREDA IN FRESNO
DEAR FREDA: In most states, married couples have the legal right to be on each other's health, disability, life insurance and pension plans. They also get special tax exemptions, deductions and refunds. A married person may inherit property and have rights of survivorship that avoid inheritance tax.
If a couple is married, the spouse is legally "next of kin" in case of death or medical emergencies. Marriage is more than a piece of paper; it provides a couple with LEGAL protection.
I have had letters urging me to remind people with AIDS to see a lawyer and have a proper will drawn up in order to ensure that whatever they leave will go specifically to a person of their choice. In the absence of a will -- the nearest next of kin (usually the parents) will inherit everything.
DEAR READERS: If you're looking for the perfect Bat (or Bar) Mitzvah gift, get "Deborah, Golda and Me: Being Female and Jewish in America" by Letty Cottin Pogrebin (published by Morrow). And buy one for yourself, but don't lend it to anyone -- you'll never get it back. It's a book of interest to both sexes.
Hot off the press -- Abby's new booklet, "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)
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