Letters: Not a Pulitzer, Aunts Everywhere

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Last week we heard a story recorded on the set of an upcoming film about jazz legend Buddy Bolden. Our reporter mentioned that Michael Ondaatje wrote a novel based on Mr. Bolden's life, and referred to the novelist as a Pulitzer Prize winner.

We were wrong. Mr. Ondaatje has won many distinguished awards for his fiction but not the Pulitzer.

Also, Lynne Sharon Schwartz of New York City advises: "You might be interested to know that Bolden is referenced many times by the characters in August Wilson's play Seven Guitars, where his name takes on almost mythic proportions."

By far the greatest number of letters we received this past week zeroed in on our conversation with Rupert Christiansen, author of The Complete Book of Aunts. He said that aunts were not present in the animal world, except for elephants.

Well, a lot of our listeners wrote to say that Christiansen should stick with analyzing homo sapiens.

Miriam Warren of Los Gatos, Calif., writes: Research has shown that acorn woodpeckers live communally, with several families sharing food storage and care of the young. Unmated females are included in the sharing of care.

Others wrote in to tell us that whales, chimpanzees, and lions all have aunts. We meant to offend none of those groups.

Charles Kaufman also had a historic perspective. After our show he says he was: "... reading the Kama Sutra, as originally translated in 1884 by Sir Richard F. Burton, which includes this thought on aunts, 'A female, therefore, should learn the Kama Shastra, or at least a part of it, by studying its practice from some confidential friend. She should study alone in private the 64 practices that form a part of the Kama Sutra. Her teacher should be the sister of her mother (i.e. her aunt), or an old female servant, or a female beggar who may have formerly lived in the family, or her own sister who can always be trusted.' It seems that aunts have been valued for thousands of years for their secret knowledge."

That will give a whole new twist to holiday get-togethers this year.

And finally, from North Powder, Oregon, a weary Paul Daniels writes: "Come on, Scott, you may have an 'Ont' (Aunt) but Opie and Andy never did. Please, it is 'Ant' (Aunt) Bea!"

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