DEAR ABBY: Once again you have changed the life of one of your readers. You recently ran a letter from a woman whose husband refused to bathe. You told her that if he didn't clean up his act, she didn't have to sleep with him - or even live with him. Well, I didn't write that letter, but I have had the same problem for 19 years.

I have begged my husband to bathe. Ralph (not his real name) is a professional man. He plays golf, sweats, works at his profession, smokes two packs of cigarettes a day, drinks beer at night, then at midnight he pours on the cologne, jumps into bed and expects me to respond! I doubt if he bathes once a month. I pretended for years, but five years ago, I stopped pretending. I moved out of our bedroom, and now I'm filing for divorce.I truly believe this man is ill, physically and mentally. My father offered to pay for a complete physical examination, but Ralph refused. He's overweight and out of shape and hasn't been to a doctor in years.

The children refuse to get into a car with him unless all the windows are down. He has a very successful practice, and the community will be shocked and will probably say, "Poor Ralph." But I can live with that, because Heaven knows how hard I tried. - LEAVING AT LAST

DEAR LEAVING: Couples who really care about each other try to please each other - and it should go without saying that if one spouse thinks the other needs a bath, the offending party should cooperate.

It's inconceivable that a man who smells so bad his wife hasn't slept with him for five years can have a "successful practice" that must bring him within smelling distance of the community.

Before finalizing the divorce, give counseling a chance. If that fails, to use your words . . . Heaven knows you tried.

DEAR ABBY: The summer has ended and again we want to thank you for running the poem "Our Place at the Lake." We clipped it from your column several years ago, had it framed, and it's hanging on the wall of our summer cottage. Everyone who sees it has enjoyed it, and many have copied it.

Did you write that poem, Abby? I say you did. My wife says you didn't. Who's right? We have a steak dinner riding on this. Thank you for years of enjoyment. - BIG FANS IN SPENCER, IOWA

DEAR FANS: You owe your wife a steak dinner. And for those who haven't seen that poem, here it is, crediting its author, Sylvia Lewis Kinney (now Bundy):


June is past, so is July,

August is ended - likewise I.

The pattering feet of summer and sun

Are over, complete, exhausted, done!

I've fed the young as well as the old,

I've cooled the warm, I've warmed the cold.

The wounded and weeping I have consoled,

The tender and touchy I have cajoled.

I have steeled the scared, I have scared the bold,

I have bit my tongue till it was controlled.

I've broiled the steak, I have casseroled,

And the grocer thinks I am made of gold.

(The other bills I have pigeonholed.)

And frankly, friends, I am ready to fold!

Next time I live I'll make the most

Of being the guest, not the host.

To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054. (Postage is included.)