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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I would like to add to your collection of random acts of kindness with the story of something that happened to me about 53 years ago:

In June of 1943, I graduated from high school and, along with most of my classmates, immediately joined the military service. After receiving basic training at Camp Grant, Ill., I was sent to Camp Stoneman, Calif., for deployment to the Pacific theater of operations.

We had little to do for the following seven weeks as we waited for a ship to transport us, so we took advantage of the liberal pass policy and spent our weekends in San Francisco, about 50 miles away. It was virtually impossible to find a hotel room in the city. Even the chairs, couches and every inch of floor were occupied by a human body in uniform. If all else failed, we'd buy a ticket to any movie, sit in the third balcony, and sleep until the management ejected us in the early morning.

One night my buddy, a high school classmate from back home, got the bright idea to try a hotel in Oakland across the bay. We found a very classy residential hotel where the lobby was absolutely empty except for the night clerk, and hesitantly asked if we might rest a while in the lobby. He granted us permission and we instantly drifted off to sleep.

About 7 a.m. I awoke and found myself gazing into the smiling face of a sweet motherly lady, who had apparently placed my head in her lap. Sitting up, I apologized, and noticed that she was accompanied by another lady of similar age. My buddy had been awake for some time, but they had not permitted him to disturb me.

We were given the key to their apartment and informed that we would find soap, towels, a razor, shaving cream and a comb in their bathroom, and that we should go "freshen up." When we returned to the lobby, they presented us with a bag of sandwiches and wished us Godspeed.

You can understand why I have never forgotten those two wonderful ladies. If only I had gotten their names and addresses. If only ... -- WILLIAM J. MYERS JR., CARLISLE, PA.

DEAR MR. MYERS: What a delightful story, and beautifully told. The degree of patriotism, generosity and commitment to the war effort during World War II remains unequaled. However, I am reminded of it every year at Christmastime during Operation Dear Abby. Last year's effort on the part of Americans of every age brought FIVE TONS of mail to our servicemen and women overseas.

DEAR ABBY: I am a man of 65 years -- almost 66.

In November 1994, I went into a local supermarket. There was an organ in the store for the holiday season and featured a drawing for music lessons. I observed an attractive lady filling out a slip for the drawing, and being a friendly person, I walked over to her and started a conversation. On learning that she was a widow (I was a widower), I said, "You probably have a boyfriend." She replied, "No, I don't." I asked for her name and telephone number and she gave them to me.

That night I called and invited her to dinner.

To make a long story short, I fell in love with her and we were married the next June. We're still in love and still on our honeymoon. I never tire of telling people how lovely she is and how much I love her. -- ROBERT ROSS, LARGO, FLA.

DEAR ROBERT: Lucky you -- and lucky Mrs. Ross. It's always inspiring to hear a love story, especially one that blossoms in the autumn of one's life. May you and your bride have many wonderful years together.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600