Until recently, it would pop up at any particular moment (and at any particular length) in the Variety section, offering no-nonsense answers to reader questions such as, “How should one dispose of toilet paper or a Kleenex that is used to blow your nose? I grew up flushing it down the toilet, but my girlfriend puts it in the garbage. Which is better environmentally?”
Hard-news sourpuss that I am, and even with the whole Internet available for such queries, I remain a “Fixit” junkie.
“Fixit” is now pretty much confined to Sundays, and this week came word that the woman who has written it for three decades, Karen Youso, has taken a buyout. Even though “Fixit” will apparently survive, the last of her 7,000 (!) columns will appear this weekend. Since you never know how writers will be allowed to say “good-bye” in print, other staffers forwarded me Youso’s note to them, and I thought fans would enjoy reading her perspective:
In 1981, I took over the Fixit column and was immediately delighted by the questions. The column, previously called Mr. Fixit, addressed the usual subjects that come with owning a home: “How do we get rid of an ice dam?” “What do I do about the squirrels (mouse, bat, wasps, etc.) that are pestering us?” “Any tips for removing mold?”
But it was more than that: Fixit also tracked down answers to a broad range of questions that readers had on their minds: “If a fly is abuzz in a moving car, what happens to it if the car stops suddenly?” “Is it true that Asians living in Minnesota live the longest of any people on earth?” “How does cold weather affect sperm?”
The mix of practical, useful and entertaining questions and answers resonated with readers, making it one of the most popular features in the paper. I’ve really enjoyed reading, researching, and answering Fixit questions. It’s been the best 30 years, every single day.
Now after more than 7,000 columns and 400 stories, many springing from the questions readers have asked, it’s time to climb out of the information booth and bow out.
Thank you, dear colleagues for letting me work shoulder-to-shoulder with you.