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by Abigail Van Buren

Course of True Love Runs Right Through Ring Ruse

DEAR ABBY: In a recent response to a woman who questioned her moral obligation to wear a wedding ring, you stated that the "presence of a wedding ring does not necessarily mean the wearer is married." Your readers may enjoy a love story which proves the wisdom of that remark.

During the Korean War, a girl in a small city in Maine was working her way through college as a waitress at a restaurant popular with the employees at the nearby air base. A young lieutenant who was a regular thought she was absolutely beautiful and had spoken with her many times. But he couldn't ask her out because she wore a gold wedding band.

One evening at closing, she and the lieutenant were the last to leave, and he lamented aloud about the "slim pickings" for the thousands of Air Force men stationed in the area. Then he said he wished she had a twin sister who wasn't married.

She studied him for a long moment, then confessed that she really was single. Her father had suggested she wear her late grandma's ring to work to help cool off us jet jockeys!

That admission forever changed their lives. The waitress became a pediatrician, and she and her now-retired husband have four grown children, and just celebrated 43 years of marriage. Grandma's ring is still on her finger. And we give daily thanks that it now signifies the wearer is married. -- LUCKY IN LOVE IN LIMESTONE

DEAR ABBY: For many years I was housekeeper and mistress to a wealthy individual. He has recently announced his engagement and I am no longer employed by him.

Because of our friendship, however, he has provided me with a sizable income and has put my husband and me in his will. My husband and I have decided we don't need all this money and would like to give most of it to charity.

Can you advise us where we can find information on charities, and how we can evaluate them? -- WONDERING IN FLORIDA

DEAR WONDERING: It is wise to check out any organization to which you are considering donating money. The National Charities Information Bureau has information that can be obtained by writing to Dept. 40, 19 Union Square West, New York, N.Y. 10003-3395.

Your local Better Business Bureau is also a good source of information, particularly if you are considering donating locally. The Council of Better Business Bureaus publishes an annual charity index that's available for a fee. Write to: 4200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 800, Arlington, Va. 22203.

DEAR ABBY: In light of your recent column about the origin of "It's not over until the fat lady sings," this should be brought to the attention of your readership:

According to "Annals of the Metropolitan Opera" (1989), Zinka Milanov never appeared as "Mimi" in "La Boheme" at that theater. The role itself quite simply was not congenial to her formidable voice, temperament and extraordinary ability as the reigning dramatic soprano from the late 1930s to the mid-1960s. -- RAYMOND JARVI, PROFESSOR OF SWEDISH, NORTH PARK COLLEGE, CHICAGO

DEAR PROFESSOR JARVI: Thank you for setting the record straight. Now I regret that I didn't consult my good friend Charles Nelson Reilly, who is an authority on opera.

DEAR READERS: If you would like your letter published, please include your name, area code and telephone number.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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