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by Abigail Van Buren

Boy's Brush With Death Comes Out in the Wash

DEAR ABBY: The letter from the family who is having problems about whether or not to wash new clothes was amusing.

Many years ago I read a book called "The Medical Detective," from the files of the Centers for Disease Control. Among the anecdotes was the story of a woman who had gone to a damaged freight sale in central California and purchased a pair of blue jeans for her son. She sent him to school, where he became so ill he was rushed to a hospital. The doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong and feared he would die.

The next day the boy recovered. When he was well enough to return to school, his mother dressed him in the same pants. At his second trip to the hospital, someone realized he was wearing the same pair of pants and tested them. The pants were loaded with a high concentration of pesticide. A container of liquid pesticide had broken and saturated a skidload of jeans.

The CDC went on a full-scale "jeans hunt." It was determined that the rest of the load had been bought by an orphanage. Luckily, their policy was washing all new clothing, so no one else got sick.

Think of the chemicals used in manufacturing clothes. I do, and I wash before I wear. -- JOHN M. SPRADLEY, GARDNERVILLE, NEV.

DEAR JOHN: Thanks for an interesting letter. I received a surprising number of letters from readers echoing your sentiments.

Read on for a real eye-catcher:

DEAR ABBY: I read with interest your letter from a gentleman in Omaha who said he always washed new clothes before he wore them. His mother had told him that nobody else does it, and he was being ridiculous. You told him it was essentially a matter of personal preference. I should like to present a different perspective:

I worked for the world's largest apparel company for 15 years. I toured many fabric and apparel manufacturing plants. I watched the fabric and finished product go through many chemical processes, including being soaked in a milky alkaline solution to soften and prepare the fabric, a dye solution to give color even to white fabric, and other chemicals. I also received numerous letters from women who wore new unwashed lingerie and pajamas, complaining that the dye from the fabric had bled and ruined their dresses or bed sheets.

I have had many plant managers say to me, "If people only saw what their clothes went through, they would never wear them without washing them first!" -- BRAD DARNALL, NASHVILLE, TENN.

DEAR BRAD: Thanks for the informative input.

DEAR ABBY: The letter you printed from "Patience, Consistency and Praise in Minneapolis" brought tears to my eyes. As a schoolteacher who has given up on more than a handful of teaching assignments because he couldn't be mean to kids, I pray that every school administrator, policy maker and teacher read that column.

Children are only the innocent mirror of the environment they grow up in; if they come to school with a mean, jaded attitude it's because they learned it from all the adults in their lives. They get enough strict meanness at home without getting it at school, too.

I wish I could find a school anywhere where disciplining children with love is the order of the day. If I could, I'd be packing in a moment to teach there. If every school were to implement a love-based discipline policy, not only would test scores rise, but also eventually we would see a decline in drug abuse, delinquency, drop-outs, crime and unemployment in society. -- R.L.K., SILVER LAKE, CALIF.

DEAR R.L.K.: I have always maintained that if children are raised with love, they will respond to others with love.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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