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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I would like to respond to the letter about the ladies in the quilting club who disapproved of the man who won their quilt in a raffle. They referred to him as "scum."

We live in a small community, and I know this man. These women have judged him solely by his appearance. I admit he could clean up a bit and present himself better, but I try to look past it to the real person.

Abby, that man is a decent human being. He has a kind heart and good intentions. He may not have a lot of money, but he has always treated me with respect and kindness and tries to do what is right.

As for your advice to the complaining ladies, I would take it a step further. HE is the one with love and compassion, and it should rub off on THEM. They should know not to judge a book by its cover.

By the way, the man was thrilled to have won the quilt. He showed it around town to everyone who would look at it. -- FRIEND AND NEIGHBOR

DEAR FRIEND: When people write to an advice columnist, they often tell only half the story. Thank you for filling in the blanks on this one. I'm pleased the gentlemen received his quilt. I hope he enjoys it and never saw the first letter about it in this column.

Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I'm 76, and this is my first letter to an advice columnist. (I started reading advice columns years ago when Dorothy Dix wrote one.)

When I read the letter from the quilters, it reminded me of a raffle that took place about 50 years ago, held by an American Legion Post. I was still living in my native state of North Carolina at the time. The $1 tickets were for a dance at the post and a chance to win a new Cadillac. (You did not have to be present to win.)

One ticket was bought by a black man. He knew he would not be allowed to go to the dance; however, he figured that his dollar was going to a good cause. Well, you guessed it! The black man's ticket was the winner.

After the raffle, when the officials realized who had won, they decided a black man could not win such a prize. His dollar was returned to him, another ticket was drawn, and the Cadillac was awarded to the second "winner."

Well, even 50 years ago, so many white people protested that miscarriage of fairness, the Legion Post bought another Cadillac and gave it to the black man. -- NOAH J. GREEN, SAVANNAH, GA.

DEAR NOAH: Hallelujah! For those times and that locale, it must have seemed revolutionary that fairness prevailed.

DEAR ABBY: I have a 1-year-old daughter. On numerous occasions, strangers have approached me and asked if they could hold her. It is uncomfortable and awkward for me, and being at a loss for words, I usually allow their request.

I have talked to other parents about this, and they share the same uneasiness with these forward strangers.

Please tell me how to handle this. -- NEW MOTHER IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR NEW MOTHER: When a stranger asks to hold your daughter, simply tell the person no, you would prefer he or she didn't.

DEAR ABBY: I have had many personal problems over the years. Earlier this year, after years of hard work, I finally received my college degree.

I am hurt that the few people in my life didn't even take the time to send me a congratulatory card. What do you think of this, please? -- ROBIN IN MASSACHUSETTS

DEAR ROBIN: If you sent graduation announcements to the people in your life, and they didn't respond, I don't blame you for being hurt. Throw yourself a graduation party, invite your family and friends, and celebrate your achievement. You've earned it. Congratulations.

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