Letters: Spartanburg, S.C.; Artist Lonni Sue Johnson

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Robert Siegel and Guy Raz read emails from listeners.

GUY RAZ, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Guy Raz.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

I'm Robert Siegel and it's time now for your letters. Yesterday, our co-host Melissa Block took us to Spartanburg, South Carolina, where jobs are especially hard to find. We met 51-year-old Rocky Gist at a food pantry. He's been unemployed for nearly two years.

ROCKY GIST: I never thought it would be like this.

MELISSA BLOCK: How does it feel to come here?

GIST: I hate it that it had to come to this point, you know. You know, I really do because I always have provided for myself, you know. I always have.

SIEGEL: Well, the story of Spartanburg, a city built on the textile industry that saw its jobs moved overseas, is a familiar one to some of you.

RAZ: It reminded listener, Mary Jane Ferrier(ph), of her home state some 50 years back. She's from South Portland, Maine. She writes, the mills' move to the South as a low wage place just as the mills have moved to China in pursuit of low-wage workers now. At the time, I am sure there was just as much resentment, even desperation.

SIEGEL: And Susan Golden(ph) of Kingston, Washington resonated with this story, too. She writes this: thank you for giving some time to those, one, outside of the Beltway and, two, telling their stories with clarity and compassion and, three, focusing on issues outside of the 2012 presidential race.

RAZ: Earlier this week, I met Lonni Sue Johnson, an artist with amnesia. She contracted a virus that caused brain damage and she lost many memories, including her marriage of 10 years. When I met with her, Lonni Sue asked me for a suggestion of something to draw.

Cats?

LONNI SUE JOHNSON: Oh, cats are great and I love how a cat starts the word category.

RAZ: A minute later, the conversation is repeated.

JOHNSON: And so what subject are you interested in me drawing you?

RAZ: I mean, we could try people. We could try cats.

JOHNSON: Oh, cats and dogs. Dog gone categories.

SIEGEL: But Karen Widert(ph) of St. Louis was moved by that conversation. She writes this: as the daughter of two parents with dementia, I frequently experience the types of repetitive and circular conversations that Guy Raz had with Ms. Johnson and I want to thank him for the compassion he showed during this interview. In a situation that can sometimes be frustrating, his was a great example of how kindness and patience can reveal some of the most insightful and wonderful moments.

RAZ: And thank you for your letters. Please, keep writing. Go to NPR.org and click on Contact Us.

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