The death January 16 of Pauline Phillips, better known as advice columnist Dear Abby, called to mind the time 20 years ago when she caused a minor stir at the Supreme Court.

In January 1993, she printed numerous responses to a column she had written about men’s nose and ear hair. One of the letters was from a woman who said the discussion “took me back a half-century.”

She told Dear Abby, “I was attending a women’s college back East and started dating an Ivy League man. He was a brilliant young man, and he was crazy about me, but I couldn’t get serious about him because he had coarse black hair in his ears and nose, which totally turned me off. I fixed him up with a girl from my dorm, and they eventually married. Guess where the fellow with the ear and nose hair ended up? On the bench of the U.S. Supreme Court!”

Court sources at the time would not speculate which justice the letter-writer was referring to. But at least two justices attended Ivy League schools in roughly the time frame the writer described: Potter Stewart and Byron White, members of the Yale Law School classes of 1941 and 1946, respectively.

Tony Mauro can be contacted at tmauro@alm.com.