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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Your letter concerning handshakes and what they signified interested me.

I am currently retired, after spending 37 years with a well-known public relations firm for whom I traveled around the country to set up press conferences for major events. In doing so, I worked with Gen. Eisenhower when he was campaigning in Denver for his second term as president. I worked with Walter Cronkite while he was at the NASA space center in Houston, and Nikita Krushchev when he was in Des Moines touring farms in the Midwest. I also helped set up the press center in Dallas the day President Kennedy was killed there.

There were other celebrities I met personally, and whose hands I shook. One was Richard Nixon when he was campaigning in Houston. When I shook his hand, I was surprised to find it was very small, sweaty and limp!

In the mid-'60s, I helped set up the press center for Billy Graham's Crusade in the Houston Astrodome. I met Billy Graham, a large, impressive fellow whose handshake was amazingly almost identical to Nixon's -- weak and very limp.

I had always believed that a person's handshake revealed his character. I later learned it wasn't true. Now I never judge a person entirely by his handshake. -- EARL ROTH, SARGENT, TEXAS

DEAR MR. ROTH: Thank you for an enlightening letter. I cannot leave the subject of handshakes without adding this personal comment: It is generally accepted that a firm and resolute handshake conveys an "I'm sincerely glad to meet you" message. But one should never use it when greeting a woman who's wearing a ring on her hand.

DEAR ABBY: I have two brothers who are married. (So am I.) One brother lives in Minnesota and the other one lives in Louisiana. The Minnesota brother always sends birthday and anniversary cards, and promptly, too. The brother who lives down South never sends birthday or an�niversary greetings. (He doesn't even acknowledge the cards I send him.)

I made up my mind that unless I hear from my thoughtless brother down South, I am going to quit remembering him on special occasions.

I talked to my parents about this, and they said, "Do as you please, but don't involve us." I don't see why I should be so prompt and thoughtful to people who ignore me, do you? -- MIDWEST SISTER

DEAR SISTER: In every family, there are some who are more thoughtful than others. You may feel that by ignoring those who always forget you, you are "getting even," but you are actually widening the gap, until eventually there will be no communication at all.

Remember them anyway. Families need each other. Don't wait for a funeral to communicate.

DEAR ABBY: After reading your column, "Only in America," in which you poked fun at Americans who buy everything they wear and use from some foreign country, I had to write to share the following:

A number of years ago, I saw a display of merchandise bearing labels reading "MADE IN USA."

It seems that on Shikoku -- the smallest of Japan's four islands -- there is a city named "Usa." All the products made there are marked "MADE IN USA."

Would you say that the purpose of those labels was to intentionally mislead the buyer? I think so.-- C.C. IN FLORIDA

DEAR C.C.: Si, Si, so do I.

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