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Columnist Heloise Appeals to New Generation

San Antonio WOIA (10/19/2005)
By Jim Forsyth

SAN MARCOS—After thirty years of explaining to housewives how they can remove candle wax from the carpet with a combination of ice and a metal pan, Heloise remains one of the most popular newspaper columnists in the world and she is seeking to re-invent herself in an era where there are fewer housewives, and less need for the homespun household solutions which have kept Heloise and her late mother a regular feature in hundreds of newspapers since the 1950s, 1200 WOAI's Charity McCurdy reported today.

Heloise began the Heloise College tour Tuesday at Texas State University in San Marcos, where she was a math major at the time her mother Heloise was pioneering her household hints column. The current Heloise took over for her mother in 1977, and has since expanded to television, radio, and several books, as well as writing her syndicated column in more than 500 newspapers.

"No matter our wonderful new technology is, we still have to clean it," Heloise said while meeting with students at Texas State's Old Main, and fielding questions about messy dorm rooms on the campus radio station.

Heloise calls her college tour "Life Skills Hints 101," and says she'll expand her repertoire of handy hints outside the four walls of the home. But she says despite modern fabrics and modern lifestyles, her advice is more in demand than ever.

"I find that with each new technology that come along, each new fabric, each new surface, texture, you still need Heloise to learn how to take care of it."

She says the new 'makeover' fad, driven by network TV reality shows, as well as the boom in do it yourselfing, are bringing new readers to Heloise. And she says the fact that homemaking courses are seldom taught in schools any more, and the old 'finishing school' concept of preparing women for a life as tidy homemakers has largely faded into history. makes for a new generation of readers hungry for the same advice she and her mother have been dishing out for more than fifty years.

"I'm always amazed that people are still amazed by the oldest hints in the book," she said. "People still come up to me and say, 'wow, I didn't know that you could use the vacuum and the upholstery attachment to dust!' I just tell them, yes you can."

She says she has also expanded away from simple household hints, and is trying to provide useful information for her overwhelmingly female readership.

"The column today covers pets, health issues, vitamins, travel, security, even sports."

But the students who were mobbing Heloise at Texas State Tuesday were mainly anxious for the same sort of advice Hints from Heloise has been providing since the column began as 'The Reader's Exchange" in the Honolulu Advertiser in 1959, things like how to get ride of clutter, how to make coffee, how to do laundry, and how not to burn food. But there's a modern twist to every problem.

"A third of the 250 plus students I have talked with have dropped their cellular phone in the toilet," she said, adding that tips on saving a waterlogged cell phone will appear soon in her internationally syndicated column. TSU



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