Your Letters: Prom Dresses And Graduation Speeches

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Last week, NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates reported on Operation School Bell, a program that provides prom dresses to high-achieving, low-income students in the Los Angeles area. Host Scott Simon's musings on the sincerity of clichés in graduation speeches also brought many comments from listeners. Simon reads listeners' e-mails and comments about last week's show.


Time now for your letters.

(Soundbite of music)

SIMON: Last week, Karen Grigsby Bates reported on Operation School Bell, a program that provides prom dresses to high-achieving, low-income students in the Los Angeles area. Bonnie Baker-Duff of Oswego, New York, writes: I loved the story. What a wonderful thing to do. My only other comment is what about the guys? Prom is nearly as expensive for them as it is for the girls. Tux rental, corsages, dinners and more are expected from them. Does any organization help them?

My musings on the sincerity of cliches in graduation speeches last week brought many comments from listeners about their own commencements. Becky Brenton posted this at I am a graduating senior and I am in my late 50s. Many of my fellow students, maybe as many as 25 percent, are older than 25 years of age. We too can use words of encouragement and inspiration. Many of us are changing careers and are ready to make new contributions to society.

Last week, we spoke with Tucker Friedman, owner of Turtle's Bar in Butte La Rose, Louisiana. As floodwaters approached, Mr. Friedman said he would ignore an evacuation order and stay on his houseboat, docked beside his bar.

Mr. TUCKER FRIEDMAN (Owner, Turtle's Bar): We live off the basin. We do swamp tours here, and we have a marina here and we have a bait-and-tackle store. And we make, you know, we - it's not a living that you get rich at, but it's a good life. It's hard work. It's a good place to raise a family, and it's just beautiful being out here, you know. And it makes it all worthwhile.

SIMON: Sue Miller of Anchorage writes: After listening to interviews with people who are in the flood zone the last couple of weeks, I wanted to say it is so refreshing to listen to people with such great attitudes. They're not happy about what is going to happen to them but they understand the bigger picture. It is a real inspiration.

(Soundbite of song, "What's Goin' On?")

Mr. MARVIN GAYE (Late Singer): (Singing) Mother, mother, there's too many of you crying...

SIMON: Our remembrance of Marvin Gaye's powerful, "What's Goin' On?" which debuted 40 years ago, prompted many listeners to share their memories of the song. Leander Grogan on said: I can still remember the reaction I had first hearing it: I was blown away. My buddy and I just sat there in silence, thinking, did you hear what I heard? This can't be that good, that perfect. Maybe the Vietnam stuff and discrimination and ecology and dope and corporate greed weren't really in there. Maybe our restless young minds were playing tricks on us. Finally, we mustered the courage to re-examine it. We got out a six-pack and cranked it up all over again.

(Soundbite of song, "What's Goin' On?")

Mr. GAYE: (Singing) You know we've got to find our way to bring some loving here today, oh...

SIMON: You can tell us what's going on. Come to, click on the link that says Contact Us. And you can reach out to us on Facebook or Twitter at NPRWeekend. You can send me a tweet directly @NPRScottSimon.

This is NPR News.

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