Letters: LeCompte; Armenian Genocide; Surnames

Host Scott Simon digs through Weekend Edition's listener e-mail and reads some of your letters.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

Time now for your Letters.

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SIMON: Listeners jammed our inbox with emails in response to our interview with Rowan LeCompte, who's been designing stained glass windows for the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. for more than half a century.

Susan Farlow(ph) of Harvard, Massachusetts writes, I thoroughly enjoyed the interview with Rowan LeCompte this morning. I was delighted to hear his comments about his experience at 16 when his submitted designs were accepted. He noted that a Mr. Castle, a retired member of the State Department offered a $100 payment to cover his expenses. I realized he was referring to my great uncle, William Richards Castle. It's wonderful to learn he had an early role in the career and life's work of such a gifted visionary and beautiful man as Mr. LeCompte clearly is.

Many other listeners were struck by the spiritual sense expressed by Rowan LeCompte. Michael Garidy(ph) of Dayton, Ohio, writes, he may not be a believer or follower of a faith or religion, but this man has taken to heart the best aspects of what I consider to be the true nature of what God the creator, or whatever one calls that essence, those fundamental aspects being love and kindness.

Our comments last week on President Obama referring to the Armenian genocide as killings rather than genocides, despite a campaign pledge, drew a large response. Sioban Rock(ph) of San Francisco asks, so, Mr. Simon, how should President Obama have addressed Turkey? He was there on a trip to try to mend relations with Europeans who had been alienated by a decade of cowboy arrogance.

Last week we interviewed Richard Webber, a visiting professor at King's College, London, who has been tracking the decline in surnames including Shufflebottom and Smelly. At the end of the interview we asked listeners to go to our blog, npr.org/soapbox and submit their own examples of unusual names.

Patty Wazonecki(ph) in Connecticut writes, my maiden name was Sourbutts. Some family members have kept their name, but some of the younger ones have changed their name. A family member researched the name and told us it was English and meant sower of eels, sort of like a fisherman, but they caught eels to eat.

Marcia Harris(ph) of San Francisco recalled a former employer in Indianapolis. I worked for an engineer named Ralph Pisswater. When I left to get another job, I worked up the nerve to ask him why he hadn't changed his name. He said, when I was kid my father wouldn't let me. And after I grew up I was damned if I would. And it's not all bad. Nobody forgets my name or loses my reservation or asks me how to spell it.

We have to ask you how to spell your name and how to pronounce it. To send your comments, go to npr.org and click on Contact Us. Please tell us where you live. You can also reach me on Twitter, nprscottsimon, all one word on Twitter. You can correspond with our WEEKEND EDITION editors and producers at NPR WEEKEND.

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