First appearing in 1938, Mary Worth is one of the longest-running continuity strips or “comic-page soap operas” — a genre dedicated to the millions of readers who thrive on continued stories told in brief daily episodes with cliffhanger endings.

Mary Worth centers on 60-something Mary, a widow and former teacher, who lives in a condominium in fictional Santa Royale. With her penchant for giving advice and helping those around her in almost a Pollyanna-like fashion, she attracts friends and new acquaintances who can benefit from her compassion and wisdom.

She’s a well-spoken gentlewoman with a knack for quoting proverbs and surrounding herself with interesting people whose lives reflect the daily concerns of society.

Past stories have confronted social issues, such as juvenile delinquency, drug addiction, grieving the death of a spouse, alcoholism, infidelity, concerns of the elderly and the generation gap.

The reader is asked to remember that Mary Worth stories are not about Mary. They are about a continuing parade of people who enter Mary’s life. If you look closely, you may recognize one of your neighbors — or even yourself.