From Our Listeners

Letters: Shellac's Source and Jacob Marley's Chain

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Listeners write in this week to correct us on the source of shellac and our Dickens' details. Also, an appreciation on our story of black and white friends in Washington, D.C., and a story about a writer who liked a drink, or two.


And it's time again for your comments. Some of you wanted to set the record straight on something our science correspondent, Richard Harris, said about 78 RPM records.

RICHARD HARRIS: Shellac is actually the excretion of a beetle that lives in Southeast Asia...

(Soundbite of laughter)

INSKEEP: Steve Zembara(ph) writes from Raleigh, North Carolina: Sorry if I'm the 78th entomologist to tell you this, but shellac comes from a scale insect, not a beetle. The difference would be like making Mama Stamberg's cranberry relish with carrots instead of horseradish. They're both roots, but it's just not the same.

This week, I said the Ghost of Christmas Past has been rattling his chains since 1843. Lynn Kotch responded from upstate New York, What the Dickens? I thought it was Jacob Marley's ghost who rattled the chains.

And many of you appreciated Judy Woodruff's story about two friends from different racial backgrounds.

Unidentified Woman #1: She's honestly just contained so many qualities that I never had in a real friend.

Unidentified Woman #2: I will love to be like 35, calling up in the end and saying, oh, let's go out to dinner because we both live in New York. Or like...

INSKEEP: After hearing that story, Connie Hoag(ph) of Westminster, Maryland wrote: These two young women are to be applauded for truly seeing each other and their strength.

And last week, we met two men whose strength at studying the drinking habits of American writers. For Steve Crowley, it brought back the memory of the day that a writer visited his high school in Georgia. The writer was James Dickey, author of "Deliverance."

Mr. STEVE CROWLEY (Listener): A friend and I were assigned to shadow Mr. Dickey all day, in an effort to curtail his imbibing, so that Mr. Dickey could perform a reading that night at parental function. We failed miserably. All day, he excused himself into teachers' bathrooms to access a hip flask. When we delivered him to the stage that night, he presented to our parents a lascivious and salivating rendition of his famous poem, "Cherrylog Road." Needless to say, our parents appeared shocked. To our defense, however, Mr. Dickey's inebriation truly added to his deliverance of the poem's imagery. Thanks again and cheers.

INSKEEP: You can send us cheers, or jeers, by going to and clicking on Contact Us.

(Soundbite of song "Dueling Banjos")

INSKEEP: This is NPR News.

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