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by Abigail Van Buren

It's a Wonderful Life When Jimmy Stewart Is Around

DEAR ABBY: Many years ago, I worked for the Yellow Cab Co. in Los Angeles. One Saturday, when our complaint department was closed, I received a call from a famous movie star. It went like this:

"Hello ... this is Jimmy Stewart. You know, I'm not hurting for money, but it's the principle of the thing that makes me mad. One of your cab drivers just ripped me off for a $20 dollar bill. You know how you'd feel if it were you."

I agreed with him and took down the necessary information. I'd hardly started to write up the complaint when Jimmy Stewart called back, all excited.

"I hope you haven't already turned in that complaint ... The driver didn't do it; it was one of these jokers with me who thought he was being funny."

Jimmy Stewart has always been one of my favorite actors, and to me, this just made him a more beautiful human being. So many people call in with complaints and never bother to correct them after they get the driver in trouble.

I hope Jimmy Stewart lives forever. We need people like him in this world. -- DOROTHY R. CASSIDY, LAGUNA HILLS, CALIF.

DEAR DOROTHY: I agree. My earliest recollection of Jimmy Stewart was during World War II when this handsome Princeton graduate took officer's training at the U.S. air base in Sioux City, Iowa -- my hometown.

For all his celebrity status, he made a wonderful impression on the townspeople as an Air Force captain who eventually achieved the rank of brigadier general.

After the war, Jimmy resumed his career as an actor, collecting more awards than I can enumerate here.

Suffice it to say that his favorite role was "devoted husband of Gloria," whom he married in 1949. Sadly, she died last year.

Jimmy Stewart is greatly admired by all who have the good fortune to know him.

DEAR ABBY: When you answered the letter from "Homemaker Wannabe," you noted that employers are beginning to offer flexible schedules to working women.

The Labor Department actively encourages employers to set up such programs. The "Working Women Count Honor Roll" recognizes employers (with a certificate signed by the labor secretary) who make life easier for their female employees through programs that compensate women fairly, make the workplace family-friendly, and value the work that women do.

Think of the difference in working women's lives if every employer in the country pledged to start one program. Programs can range from elaborate (such as in-house day-care centers) to simple (allowing employees four hours off per year to attend school functions). And, of course, programs that help women also help men.

Interested employers and employees can contact the Labor Department at 1-800-827-5335 for a brochure explaining the Working Women Count Honor Roll and a pledge card. -- MARION HANSEN, PORTLAND, ORE.

DEAR MARION HANSEN: Thank you for an informative letter and for sending me the brochure, which points out that the explosion in the number of working women is one of the defining trends of the 20th century. Today, women make up almost half the entire workforce in the United States. A recent study shows that 99 percent of women will work for pay at some time in their lives.

Because of this, the Women's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor invites employers nationwide to join a new initiative recognizing employers, organizations and others who implement policies and practices that value the work women do.

Businesses, unions and non-profit organizations (public and private, local and national) can apply for the Honor Roll if they undertake or have recently started a program or policy that improves the lives of women workers in concrete ways.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby's "Keepers," P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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