By Mary N. DiZazzo

Fingers are good for you. They play a tremendous part in your day-to-day existence and if you didn't have them, life would be infinitely more difficult.

H. Allen Smith, 1947

What with me being a manicurist, my husband, when he found this essay by H. Allen Smith, passed it on to me, knowing I'd enjoy it. Smith was a newspaperman and humorist in the 1940s through 1960s. Locally his memory is kept alive by the Robert Benchley Society -- It's a pity he isn't more widely known today, for his work is laugh-out-loud funny. He was a big influence on the next generation of humorists, including one that my Mom and I just adored, Erma Bombeck.

Did you ever really stop and consider your fingers" Smith did, in this first (maybe last as well) ever History of Fingers: "If man were born without fingers, Nature would probably compensate by putting additional vigor into the toes and making them larger and much longer than they are now. (Shoes would have to be bigger and would cost more, and God knows they cost enough as it is)." He goes on to ask us to picture Winston Churchill giving the "V" for Victory sign with his toes or a teen-ager standing beside the highway, big-toeing a ride.

Also, smith points out that in the Fiji Islands there are certain savages, or there used to be, who would cut off their fingers as a sign of mourning after the death of their chief. As he noted, "a noble gesture, but like many noble gestures, a foolish one!"

Yes, we all use our fingers in so many ways. Just consider the function of fingers in mathematics: "counting forward on our fingers to determine what day of the month next Tuesday will be, or counting backwards on our fingers after the gladsome tiding that a new baby has been born."

Smith writes: "without fingers to snap, today's singers of popular songs would go slack-jawed and mute" which with our current revival of the music of Bobby Darin, is as timely today as it was 60 years ago.

And anyone in the printing business --have we got your attention, Pam-- will appreciate his parting shot in this digital dissertation: "I think it's clear that we've got to have something to rub over the letter of other people's stationery so we can tell if it's engraved or merely printed."

Buona giornata and God bless the United States of America!


Have you missed any of Mary's columns in the Post-Gazette? Read prior weeks' "All That Zazz" columns on her website She is a third-generation cosmetologist and owner of Mary for Nails, etc. natural nailcare salon in Andover, and a Massachusetts distributor of Kosmea brand rose hip oil products. She may be contacted at (978) 470-8183. She also sees select clients by appointment in Boston at (617) 742-6881.