Letters: Runaways, Multigenerational Households

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NPR's Neal Conan reads from listener comments on previous show segments, including responses to a conversation about the growing number of multigenerational households and the experiences of homeless runaways and young squatters.


It's Tuesday, the day we read from your emails and Web comments. We talked a week ago about the experiences of transients and young squatters. Jobie(ph) emailed from Buffalo, New York, to tell us: A lot of us ex-squatters and scavengers have not abandoned any of our ideals and are using all of our learned skills to do things like rehab houses and live self-sufficiently with little or no money. Several of my friends and myself now own houses outright, paying from 10,000 to as little as a dollar from our learned skills and are rehabbing on the cheap. Compared to a country in foreclosure crises, it's not looking so bad for us old street punks.

Another listener took issue with some of the callers: I can't help but feel a bit offended. I grew up poor in Los Angeles and have seen middle to upper-class people fascinated with how my family grew up. People who actually end up living this way out of choice have the luxury of doing these things for some type of experience. The people who I knew who were homeless regretted their circumstance. Choosing this way of life simply demonstrates the extremes people will go to when hardship has not been a real part of their life. That by email from Oscar(ph) in Kansas.

The troubled economy also pushed more people to live with relatives, increasing a trend that started decades ago. It's an arrangement that works for many, including Leslie(ph) in San Antonio. My father moved in with us after he was diagnosed with cancer for both financial and logistical reasons. The year he spent with us was nothing but a blessing. He was able to spend time with his granddaughters and vice versa. The relaxed day-to-day interactions and nightly goodnight kisses cannot be compared to the occasional weekend visits or stressed time during holidays. I look back fondly and with no regrets for that blessed year.

But living with extended family all under one roof does not work for everybody. Amy(ph) in California wrote: I really admired callers who have described healthy communication and setting of realistic goals. Unfortunately, I don't feel the same kind of satisfaction with my current situation. I long for a home of my own, I long for privacy, and I long for a living situation where I feel like I'm unequivocally the woman of the house.

And finally, Gib Shell(ph) emailed hoping to put to rest the debate over just how to pronounce the name of Osawatomie, Kansas, or is it Osawatomie? Like Ron Elving, he wrote, I grew up in Osawatomie. I lived and worked there. Native speakers are actually also divided on the pronunciation. Should it begin with a long O as in the word close, or should it have a short O as in the word loss? Since both pronunciations exist in the region, there is no absolutely correct pronunciation. We have to go with the origin of the name to find the more correct one of the two. It's derived from two Native American tribe names, Osage and Potawatomi, combining the two, who both lived in the area before whites settled in in the 1850s and 1860s. So the more correct pronunciation would be with the long O.

So there you have it, though I'm sure we'll get more emails from Osawatomie. If you have a correction, comment or a question for us, the best way to reach us is by email. The address, talk@npr.org. Please, let us know where you're writing from and give us some help on how to pronounce your name. If you're on Twitter, you could follow us there, @TOTN.

Tomorrow, political junkie Ken Rudin's back with all the latest from Florida, and Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire will join us, as well. We'll see you then. It's the TALK OF THE NATION, from NPR News. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington.

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