Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I would dearly love to see the inside of the homes where my grandmother and parents lived when I was a child. They were farmhouses with no indoor plumbing and, at one time, no electricity. I understand that my grandmother's house has been completely modernized, and I can see from the outside that an addition has been built onto it.

My question: Would it be out of line for me to go to the door, identify myself, and ask to be taken on a tour of the house? I can't call ahead to make an appointment because I don't know who lives there. Also, I'm always on vacation when I'm in the area, and I can't make an appointment for the next week or month.

This is rural country; people are not as fearful of strangers as they might be in the city, and I can tell them enough about their house to convince them that I once lived there.

I have asked a few friends what they would do if a stranger came to their door and asked permission to see their house. Some said they would permit entry. Others said, "No way!"

Abby, please ask your readers what they would say. And why. -- CALVIN IN MILWAUKEE

DEAR CALVIN: Provocative question. Readers?

DEAR ABBY: This is the first time that I have written to you. Maybe you won't think this idea is important, but here goes anyway:

I have to exercise daily. I walk for health reasons. While I was out walking one day, I suddenly realized that I was not carrying any means of identification on me. I also noticed that other people I passed (or that passed me) didn't seem to, either, due to the outfits they were wearing.

I thought that if I passed out or was accidentally hit by a car or a falling object, who would know who I was, or if I needed any special medication due to my condition?

I now make sure that I carry a means of identification on me everytime I leave home. And I hope that you think this is worth printing for people who job or walk. -- ROBERT BRINKMAN, BELCHERTOWN, MASS.

DEAR ROBERT: It is. And I did. Thank you.

DEAR ABBY: In response to "True Story, Palm Beach, Fla." -- the case where a tuxedoed pair of con men made off with the wedding gifts brought to a country club reception -- may I add:

Bringing wedding gifts to a reception is boorish and bad manners. Wedding invitations are always sent a month before the wedding, giving the guests plenty of time to select and send wedding gifts to the bride's home. This not only allows the bride a head start on her thank-you notes (always a headache after the honeymoon), but it frees family members or friends from the irksome job of standing by the gift table at a time when everyone else is having fun. And then there is the massive job of hauling gifts back to the family home.

Let's return to the thoughtful good manners of yesteryear; send the gifts ahead of time. Maybe the following line added to the wedding invitation would help: "Please do not bring gifts to the reception." -- OFF MY CHEST

DEAR OFF: I agree that hand-carrying wedding gifts to the reception places an additional burden on the bride. However, a "line" on the wedding invitation asking that no gifts be brought to the reception would be out of line.

To get Abby's booklet "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)

4900 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64112; (816) 932-6600