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>>

  • Teen Hospitalized After Falling At an Ocean City Hotel

    Teen Hospitalized After Falling At an Ocean City Hotel

    Thursday, May 25 2017 9:48 PM EDT2017-05-26 01:48:06 GMT
    Thursday, May 25 2017 9:48 PM EDT2017-05-26 01:48:06 GMT
    Econo Lodge on 145th Street in Ocean CityEcono Lodge on 145th Street in Ocean City

    Ocean City Police say a 17-year-old boy was hospitalized after falling from an unknown height at a hotel in Ocean City Thursday afternoon. 

    More

    Ocean City Police say a 17-year-old boy was hospitalized after falling from an unknown height at a hotel in Ocean City Thursday afternoon. 

    More
  • Traffic Stop Leads to Drug Arrest

    Traffic Stop Leads to Drug Arrest

    Thursday, May 25 2017 7:56 PM EDT2017-05-25 23:56:24 GMT
    Thursday, May 25 2017 8:00 PM EDT2017-05-26 00:00:18 GMT
    Maurice Pinder was arrested for the posession of drugs and weapons.Maurice Pinder was arrested for the posession of drugs and weapons.

    A Federalsburg man is being held without bond after a traffic stop lead to the discovery of drugs and weapons.

    More

    A Federalsburg man is being held without bond after a traffic stop lead to the discovery of drugs and weapons.

    More
  • Arrest Warrants Issued for Man Accused of Punching Man with Cerebral Palsy

    Arrest Warrants Issued for Man Accused of Punching Man with Cerebral Palsy

    Thursday, May 25 2017 7:30 PM EDT2017-05-25 23:30:35 GMT
    Thursday, May 25 2017 7:33 PM EDT2017-05-25 23:33:47 GMT
    Barry BakerBarry Baker

    Pennsylvania authorities have issued an arrest warrant for Barry Baker, the man accused of sucker punching a man with cerebral palsy at a West Chester Pennsylvania 7-11 earlier this month. 

    More

    Pennsylvania authorities have issued an arrest warrant for Barry Baker, the man accused of sucker punching a man with cerebral palsy at a West Chester Pennsylvania 7-11 earlier this month. 

    More
  • Most Popular VideosMost Popular VideosMore>>

  • 'Ghost Pots' Hurting Chesapeake Bay's Blue Crab Population

    'Ghost Pots' Hurting Chesapeake Bay's Blue Crab Population

    Crabbing season is well underway, and that means hundreds of thousands of crab pots are in the Chesapeake Bay catching blue crabs.

    Every morning during crabbing season, you can see watermen gathering up their pots, collecting their catch, and putting the pots back in the water. What you cannot see is the problem: pots that have had their lines severed sit on the bay's bottom, sometimes never seen again, along with the crabs inside them.

    More

    Crabbing season is well underway, and that means hundreds of thousands of crab pots are in the Chesapeake Bay catching blue crabs.

    Every morning during crabbing season, you can see watermen gathering up their pots, collecting their catch, and putting the pots back in the water. What you cannot see is the problem: pots that have had their lines severed sit on the bay's bottom, sometimes never seen again, along with the crabs inside them.

    More
  • WBOC Early Morning Weather for Thursday, May 25, 2017

    WBOC Early Morning Weather for Thursday, May 25, 2017

  • Locals React to Cruisin' Ocean City

    Locals React to Cruisin' Ocean City

    Thousands of cars rumbled into Ocean City for Cruisin' OC but not everyone was thrilled about it.

    For 27 years unique cars have traveled from hundreds of miles away to drive up and down the streets of Ocean City.

    While this event might be a big attraction for people who aren't from Delmarva, not everyone gets revved up for the weekend.Locals said that over the past few years the noise and the smell has gotten to be a little too much.

    More

    Thousands of cars rumbled into Ocean City for Cruisin' OC but not everyone was thrilled about it.

    For 27 years unique cars have traveled from hundreds of miles away to drive up and down the streets of Ocean City.

    While this event might be a big attraction for people who aren't from Delmarva, not everyone gets revved up for the weekend.Locals said that over the past few years the noise and the smell has gotten to be a little too much.

    More
Powered by Frankly

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 WBOC. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices