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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Please add this to your collection of "acts of kindness."

When my mother was a young girl, her mother became critically ill with a thyroid condition. Her family had no money for the operation she needed to save her life.

The physician mentioned her problem to another patient of his who happened to be a prominent local citizen.

Shortly afterward, the doctor called my grandmother to tell her that an anonymous person had agreed to pay for the surgery she needed -- no strings attached.

The operation was successful, and my grandmother enjoyed many more happy years with her growing family.

The debt of gratitude we owed her benefactor was impossible to measure. It wasn't until many years later that his identity was disclosed.

The town was Independence, Mo., and the man was Harry S. Truman. -- SUSAN CLOW, PITTSBURG, KAN.

DEAR MS. CLOW: My memories of Harry Truman are very vivid. When he defeated Thomas Dewey for president in 1948, it was such a close race, the Chicago Tribune had already printed its headline: "DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN." Your story about the former president doesn't surprise me. Truman was not only very kind, he also was very modest.

DEAR ABBY: In responding to "A.O. in Los Angeles," you said, "Photographing strangers without permission is a clear invasion of their privacy."

Do you recall a photograph of a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square on VJ Day? How about a teen-ager bent over a fatally wounded student at Kent State? A multitude of well-known (and important) photographs were taken of strangers (not celebrities) without their permission. Because of this "invasion of privacy," we have the masterworks of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Diane Arbus, Dorothea Lange, Robert Doisneau, Sebastian Salgado and more.

As far as the law is concerned, if a person is in a public place or taking part in a public activity, he or she is a part of the environment and may be photographed.


DEAR KRISTINA: I stand corrected and thank you for setting me (and the record) straight.

DEAR ABBY: This is to "Mom in the Middle" from someone who has been there.

I am a 28-year-old mother of a 12-year-old daughter. I had my first sexual encounter when I was 16 years old. The boy (he was 17) used a condom so I thought I was safe. I was wrong. The condom failed. I don't know how it happened, but it did.

Be glad your daughter was honest with you. I was too scared to tell my mother for fear she would tell my father. (She told my father everything even when she promised me she wouldn't.) Dad was shocked when Mom gave him the news, but he accepted it with good grace.

Although my parents are now doting grandparents, we all wish it had been a few years later.

Involve your husband. He has a right to know. -- LEARNED THE HARD WAY

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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