Story of Response to 'Dear Abby' and 200,000 Letters Leads to Gi - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Story of Response to 'Dear Abby' and 200,000 Letters Leads to Gift for Del. Archive

Posted:

DOVER, Del. (WBOC) - A gift to soldiers has become a gift to the Delaware Public Archive. Documents and photos from an odd but interesting chapter of the Vietnam War now have a new home at the archive.

It was an incident that started innocently enough and ended up leading to a major policy change at the Pentagon and postal service.

A Christmas request got the ball rolling. Prior to Christmas 1967, the nationally-syndicated advice column "Dear Abby" asked what GI's wanted for Christmas. A Delaware man wrote Abby with what he wanted.

"Dear Abby" printed eight responses to the "what do GI's want" question. The response from PFC. William David Rice was final one. State Archivist Stephen Marz says Rice wanted to see smiles on his buddy's faces.

"They don't get any mail," Marz said. "If any of your readers have a five-cent stamp and time on their hands, please have them write to 'any lonely soldier,' care of me. And I'll see that he gets it."

Even Abby didn't anticipate the size of the response to that request.

"He got almost 200,000 pieces of mail and almost 20,000 packages," Marz said. "There was a regulation that mail could only be received if it had someone's name on it. It couldn't be anonymous mail. They would all go to the 'dead letter box,' or they would be sent back if there was a return address."

Rice and this incident were instrumental in changing that policy.

"He kept all the background correspondence in that regard, which is important when you talk about an archive. How do you document something that has happened in history?" Marz explained.

Marz says Rice donated his scrapbook to the archive. It includes letters from congressmen, from Abby herself, even a couple of the letters to "any lonely soldier." and photos show just how much mail arrived in southeast Asia.

"And it is available if people would like to come into the archives and have a look at it," said Marz.

When the book isn't in use or on display, it is kept in one of the archive's four document storage facilities The vaults are both temperature and relative humidity controlled.

That protects the archive's resources. Marz says it's important to keep safe items like the ones provided by Rice.

"He made a difference in people's lives, and we thanked him when he came to the archives."

Rice officially gifted the book and documents to the archive at a ceremony the day before Veterans Day.

  • Delmarvawide NewsDelmarvawide NewsMore>>

  • Federal Judge in Md. Blocks Effort to Shield Military Transgender Ban Info

    Federal Judge in Md. Blocks Effort to Shield Military Transgender Ban Info

    Aug 15, 2018 1:01 PM -04:002018-08-15 17:01:00 GMT
    Wednesday, August 15 2018 1:01 PM EDT2018-08-15 17:01:50 GMT
    (Photo: AP)(Photo: AP)
    (Photo: AP)(Photo: AP)
    A federal judge in Maryland has denied an effort by President Donald J. Trump's administration to shield information it used to implement a ban on transgender people in the military.More
    A federal judge in Maryland has denied an effort by President Donald J. Trump's administration to shield information it used to implement a ban on transgender people in the military.           More
  • Maryland Grant Money Available to Combat Violence Against Women

    Maryland Grant Money Available to Combat Violence Against Women

    Aug 15, 2018 12:24 PM -04:002018-08-15 16:24:00 GMT
    Wednesday, August 15 2018 12:24 PM EDT2018-08-15 16:24:32 GMT
    Maryland agencies that serve victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking have a little more than a week to apply for grant money from the state.More
    Maryland agencies that serve victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking have a little more than a week to apply for grant money from the state.More
  • Wicomico County Fair Kicks Off This Weekend In Salisbury

    Wicomico County Fair Kicks Off This Weekend In Salisbury

    Aug 15, 2018 10:19 AM -04:002018-08-15 14:19:00 GMT
    Wednesday, August 15 2018 10:19 AM EDT2018-08-15 14:19:16 GMT
    SALISBURY, Md. - The Wicomico County Fair will return to WinterPlace Park in Salisbury Aug. 17-19. This year’s event will celebrate 82 years of fair traditions, and is presented by Perdue Farms and the Pohanka Automotive Group. The Fair will kick ofMore
    SALISBURY, Md. - The Wicomico County Fair will return to WinterPlace Park in Salisbury Aug. 17-19. This year’s event will celebrate 82 years of fair traditions, and is presented by Perdue Farms and the Pohanka Automotive Group. The Fair will kick ofMore
  • Most Popular VideosMost Popular VideosMore>>

  • Hoopers Island Waterman Catches Large Bullshark in Chesapeake Bay

    Hoopers Island Waterman Catches Large Bullshark in Chesapeake Bay

    Larry "Boo" Powley says his Monday morning was a little bit more eventful than he had planned.  After a 300 lb. bull shark got caught in his fishing net, he says his phone has been ringing non-stop. 

    More

    Larry "Boo" Powley says his Monday morning was a little bit more eventful than he had planned.  After a 300 lb. bull shark got caught in his fishing net, he says his phone has been ringing non-stop. 

    More
  • Hoopers Island Catches Large Bull Shark

    Hoopers Island Catches Large Bull Shark

    Captain Boo Powley has an eight and a half foot long bull shark, caught in his net this weekend.More
    Captain Boo Powley has an eight and a half foot long bull shark, caught in his net this weekend.More
  • Unexpected Discovery Made in Ocean City Median Project

    Unexpected Discovery Made in Ocean City Median Project

    Cones and construction are scattered along Coastal Highway in Ocean City. Initially postponed, the median project will put a divider up in the middle of the two lanes of traffic from 44th to 62nd St.

    State Highway Administration confirms the median project is on schedule and is expected to be completed by Memorial Day, but some folks in town have their doubts about that completion time.

    More

    Cones and construction are scattered along Coastal Highway in Ocean City. Initially postponed, the median project will put a divider up in the middle of the two lanes of traffic from 44th to 62nd St.

    State Highway Administration confirms the median project is on schedule and is expected to be completed by Memorial Day, but some folks in town have their doubts about that completion time.

    More
Powered by Frankly

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 WBOC. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices