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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: "Still Dating," the woman and her husband who have incorporated good manners into their marriage, have my support. I encourage them to continue, regardless of what their daughters think.

My wife and I have been married almost 42 years. We still hold hands in public and exchange brief smooches. I open doors for her -- both to buildings and cars -- and I also help her out of the car. I do little things "just because," like bringing her flowers or small pieces of costume jewelry. It gives me great pleasure.

Let their children learn by observation a good lesson in chivalry, gallantry, and just plain good manners. They'll see, in about 10 years, how fortunate they are to have such loving, devoted parents. -- TWO-IN-LOVE IN ILLINOIS

DEAR TWO-IN-LOVE: You're right. And I hope those young women find spouses as caring as you are. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: This is my first letter to you, but I had to write after reading the letter from "Still Dating." Let's hope her daughters eventually learn to accept and value the old-fashioned courtesies. The parents are setting an excellent example for them.

As a 61-year-old widow, I can't begin to tell you how much I miss those "old-fashioned" courtesies from my husband, Richard. For most of a long, debilitating illness, he continued to do those little things for me. And when he grew too ill to do them, I turned the tables and opened doors for him and assisted him up the stairs or from the car.

Nearly five years ago, my darling went to a better place. He's free of pain.

Occasionally I have had the pleasure of having a gentleman hold a door for me. I always accept the courtesy and smile and thank him. Thank heavens some members of the younger generation have learned to value manners and courtesy to and from others. -- STILL MISSING HIM, TARPON SPRINGS, FLA.

DEAR STILL MISSING HIM: I offer my sympathy for the loss of your loving mate. It's clear that yours was a very caring union. Although chivalry may no longer be universally practiced, it isn't dead yet. And it should be nurtured wherever it appears. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: So many women today say, "I can open my own doors. I don't need a man." Well, let me tell you something: When a man opens a door, holds a chair or a coat, he's telling you he feels you are a woman worth the effort. The least you can do is to smile and say "Thank you."

I am 88 years old and enjoy every courtesy a man pays me. Some time ago, I entered an elevator, and a gentleman took off his hat and asked if I wanted the main floor. I said, "Yes, thank you." When we left the elevator and approached the heavy front door, he hurried to hold it for me. I thanked him again, and then I heard him say, "Well! It's been a long time since a woman thanked me." I said, "How kind of you. These doors are so heavy." He smiled from ear to ear. He felt good and so did I.

One day at the mall, a boy about 7 was opening a large, heavy door as a woman got there. As he held it, she sailed right through without even looking at him. When he held it for me, I said, "Thank you so much. These doors are heavy." His face lit up and he said, "Yes." I added, "Oh, you are the dear man today." He stretched up about 3 inches with his chest out. Even little guys like to be thanked.

A woman who learns to be gracious will be surprised at the perks. -- HELEN IN SACRAMENTO

DEAR HELEN: You said a mouthful, Sister!

Abby shares her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "Abby's More Favorite Recipes." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 per booklet ($4.50 each in Canada) to: Dear Abby Cookbooklets I and II, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in price.)

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