Your Letters: Anonymous Hero; Steinbeck's Journeys

Host Scott Simon reads listeners' mail, including responses to his essay last week about a great-grandmother rescued from her flooded car and his conversation with Bill Steigerwald about his journey along the same path traveled by author John Steinbeck and his poodle Charley.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

Time now for your letters.

(Soundbite of typing and music)

SIMON: Many responses to my essay last week about the Washington, D.C. great grandmother rescued from her car, which was flooded after days of heavy rains along the East Coast. Her rescuer, whom witnesses described as appearing to be Hispanic, left the scene. I speculated he might be an undocumented immigrant.

Thomas Spanhour writes on our website: Thanks for this reminder that the way people treat complete strangers is a measure of character.

But Rich Evans writes: Just because the man appears Hispanic doesn't mean he is. And if he is Hispanic and left the scene before the police arrived, it's a leap on your part to infer he's an illegal immigrant. Using stereotyping to make a liberal point about immigration reform is no better than anti-immigrant activists who use stereotypes to demagogue their issue.

Connie Campos writes on our website: We can't all say we don't adhere to any stereotype. But the facts show that most do work in that manner and we have to recognize majorities while working past stereotypes. We need more citizens that appreciate and understand freedom, hope, and opportunity.

Last week we spoke with Judy Shepard about recent suicides of young gay people, including that of Tyler Clementi, a student at Rutgers. Judy Shepard's son Matthew was murdered 12 years ago because he was gay. Mrs. Shepard tries to encourage young gays.

Ms. JUDY SHEPARD: You want them to be honest with who they are and about their future, and to recognize that you are who you are and you love who you love, and that's just the way it is.

SIMON: A number of listeners complained that we were wrong to interview Judy Shepard, because it implies that Tyler Clementi was a victim of the same kind of crime that killed Matthew Shepard.

Robert Maclay(ph) of San Diego writes: From the quotes I read of the actual tweets and posts, this wasnt about intolerance of gays. Of course it doesnt make as good a story if it was just two 18-year-old kids just doing something stupid, and then another student doing something tragic.

Susan Wheeler(ph) of Lancaster, New Hampshire sent this note after our conversation with Bill Steigerwald about retracing the trail John Steinbeck traveled with his poodle Charley: I laughed out loud when he proclaimed that his GPS Girl was pretty sharp when he said he was in Lunenburg, Vermont, between Lancaster and Concord, Vermont. Lancaster is in New Hampshire, she writes. He must have been fiddling with his GPS as he crossed the Connecticut River and missed the Welcome to Vermont sign.�

Well, we welcome all of your comments. You can go to NPR.org, click on Contact Us. You can post a comment on any story at NPR.org. We're also on Twitter. I tweet @NPRScottSimon - all one word. The entire WEEKEND EDITION staff is @NPRWeekend.

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