Letters: Last Meals; Pen Pals

Melissa Block and Michele Norris read a correction about a story aired on Monday's program, and they read listener reaction to interviews in Tuesday's show about the end of last meal requests on Texas' death rows and pen pals who met for the first time in 51 years.

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This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Michele Norris. We'll read your letters about yesterday's program in a moment. First, we have this correction. On Monday, we aired a story on quick response codes, those funny-looking pixelated squares popping up in magazines and on billboards lately, and we mischaracterized smartphone user James Mitchell. We said he didn't know his phone could scan QR codes. Those codes will link a user to a website with more information about a product or event. Mr. Mitchell wants us to know he has actually scanned a QR code before, and he thinks it's a waste of time.

BLOCK: Now, on to your comments. Several of you wrote in about our interview with former Texas prison cook Brian Price. The prison system in Texas has decided to end the tradition of last meal requests for death row inmates. The decision stems from an over-the-top request last week that the inmate then decided not to eat. Brian Price has offered to prepare and to pay for any future last meals.

BRIAN PRICE: What if that was your son on that gurney and you're on the other side of that glass watching him be put to death like an animal? How would you feel then? Would you have gone out and got him a meat lover's pizza if you could? Of course, you would have.

NORRIS: Some of you told us how impressed you were with Price while others, including Joanne Lee Frank(ph) of Clearwater, Florida, expressed frustration with the Texas prison system, which has rejected his proposal. Ms. Frank writes: Instead of deciding to move away from the concept of last meals, Texas could have made it a softer decision, either to place reasonable restrictions on the food order or take up the offer of Brian Price. She adds that the inmates are about to die and writes this: Their last meal is their last request in this world. For crying out loud, let them choose what they want to eat. I don't think that's asking too much.

BLOCK: On to my interview with two pen pals. Anne Libby and Louis Pelissier have shared the details of their lives through letters for 51 years. They finally met for the first time earlier this month. And many of you wrote us enthusiastically about this story and your own experience as a pen pal, including Judy Christiana of Kenner, Louisiana.

NORRIS: Christiana has a friend, Norma, who lives near Chicago. She says, we began writing letters when we found each other in a pen pal section of a Barry Manilow fan club newsletter in 1976. We wrote letters at an average of every two weeks to a month over the years. Christiana tells us she met Norma once, and their correspondence has now gone electric. They email each other almost every day, though they still do write a real letter every once in a while. She concludes, we are extremely close and consider each other as family. When something good or bad happens in my life, Norma is usually the first person I want to tell.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Singing) You got to have friends.

BARRY MANILOW: (Singing) Now, you got to have friends.

WOMAN: (Singing) You got to have friends.

MANILOW: (Singing) You know the feeling is, oh, so strong.

BLOCK: We like to hear from you. Please go to npr.org and click on Contact Us at the bottom of the page.


MANILOW: (Singing) Talking about friends?

WOMAN: (Singing) You got to have friends.

MANILOW: (Singing) ...miles and miles and miles of friends...

WOMAN: (Singing) You got to have friends.

MANILOW: (Singing) ...lots and lots and lots of friends, ooh, you got to have friends. Talking about friends, hey?

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