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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My Great-Uncle Ben died in 1987, two years after his wife, Bonnie. Among the articles he left behind were 70 photo albums composed of snapshots and Polaroid pictures. The photos are unidentified except for a few that have notes like, "Outside Pearl's place," or "Evening before J.J. arrived." They mean nothing whatsoever to anyone who has seen them.

Except for a lovely memorial album that Uncle Ben put together after Aunt Bonnie died, nobody is interested in these albums. However, everybody (except me) wants them intact because they "obviously meant a lot to Ben and Bonnie." I'm now stuck with them because I'm single and my family thinks that automatically gives me more storage space. It doesn't.

When I tried to donate the albums to places like Ben and Bonnie's hometown library, I was politely turned down. I tried the retirement community where they had lived and was told the center couldn't use them either. The administrator suggested that I "respectfully destroy" the albums.

My family members are horrified at the proposal. I loved Uncle Ben and Aunt Bonnie as much as anyone, but they were practical people, and I'm sure they would agree with my solution. They're probably laughing in amazement that these albums have survived this long.

Abby, I would like to condense the albums into one meaningful collection (if I can even identify that many photos) and "respectfully destroy" the rest. I hate to bother you with anything this trivial, but I need some backup for the wrath that is sure to follow if I carry out my plan. -- RESPECTFUL RITA, TAOS, N.M.

DEAR RITA: You are not being disrespectful; you are being practical. Give one more try to donating the albums. This time, check with the local historical society. If it refuses, give your family members one last chance to either claim individual photos or assume the responsibility of storing the whole kit and caboodle. After a reasonable period of time, proceed with your plan. I, too, think you would then have Uncle Ben and Aunt Bonnie's blessing.

DEAR ABBY: I've read many articles over the years about whether the father or the stepfather should walk the bride down the aisle. I'd like to share my solution with you.

I was raised by my father until the age of 9, and by my stepfather from 9 to 19. Since both men put equal heart and soul into my upbringing, I asked them both to give me away. My stepfather declined, saying it was my father's day.

As my father proudly walked me down the aisle, we stopped, I handed my father my bouquet, turned and hugged and kissed my stepfather, then turned and proceeded to my awaiting groom.

There wasn't a dry eye in the church. To this day, some 15 years later, friends still tell me it was one of the most touching gestures they have ever witnessed, one that had great symbolism.

Abby, I hope this solution helps someone else who may be wondering how to handle that situation. -- B. COATES, GLENDALE, ARIZ.

DEAR B. COATES: Although it's not to be found in any etiquette book, you have provided a beautiful and sensitive solution to a situation in which many brides find themselves. Thank you for sharing it.

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