by Julia Buckley
Back when I was a kid, my family had a subscription to the Chicago Sun-Times; one of my daily reads at the breakfast table, aside from the funnies and Sidney Omarr's horoscope, was Ann Landers' advice column. I thought of Ann Landers today, because the NY Times website reminded me that she died on this date in 2002.
"Ann Landers" was really Chicago reporter Eppie Lederer, who won the column in 1955 after the death of Ruth Crowley, who had previously written the "Ask Ann Landers" column and who had died right around the time that Lederer was looking for a job in Chicago. Lederer entered a contest to become the next "Ask Ann Landers" author, and she won.
For many years, I read letters to Ann Landers and Lederer's responses--sometimes tart, sometimes compassionate, but ever offering a large dose of common sense. I didn't always agree with her advice, but the column made for lots of family discussion (my family LOVED to talk at the table, and still does, much to my restless husband's chagrin).
"Ann Landers" became such a household name in Chicago (and in all the other cities where her column was syndicated) that I can't think of anyone who has ever succeeded her as America's advice columnist. Nowadays people air their problems (often their really seedy problems) in other venues: tv talk shows and court tv, where authorities like Judge Judy dispense the same sort of common sense that Ann Landers once did in her little column.
But I miss being able to read her advice and to apply it, sometimes, to my own life. Ann Landers didn't suffer fools gladly, and she often provided a mirror for people to look at their own behavior and see it for what it was, good or bad.
I found a website that offers classic Ann Landers advice columns; you can read some here
The old letters are fun to read, because people's problems are universal, and the advice applies today just as it did then.
And please excuse my overuse of parenthesis in this column. I seem to be full of non-essential information today. :)
(photo link here).