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Dear Mr. Keillor, I'm writing

August 22, 2006 |

Dear Mr. Keillor,
I'm writing from down here in the southern borderlands of Texas, just up from the river. This is the home base of most of the migrant population of the Central States--they come back home from up North when the labor slows down and the lack of good peppers becomes unbearable. They talk about Lake Wobegon and the goofy folks thereabouts, but I never hear the Lake Wobegon folks talk about them. My beautiful wife is a brilliant school teacher and has all of these bright kiddos come into class a month late and then leave a month early for long drives and long days. It's sad to see these shining faces and hard-working hands head out the school door and into that strange and risky world of hot, unappreciated work with some helpings of racism. Is there an invisibility trick that families and mobile communities use when they get up there to your neck of the woods?

Anyway, I'm an organic vegetable farmer and a pastor, and I sure enjoy it when you talk so passionately about good food production on your show.

John G.
San Juan, TX

The Mexican migrants are living the lives of our ancestors and we know it. Lives of hard work, outside the mainstream, lives that would feel hopeless except for powerful family loyalty and faith. So we have some empathy for these dark mysterious figures in our midst. Lake Wobegon, however, is dairy and soybeans, not the sort of farming that requires seasonal labor, so the dark strangers pass through here almost without us seeing them. They look at our little town in passing, the neat lawns and stucco houses and shops and the grain elevator, and see nothing for themselves there and keep driving. I too feel for those bright minds who come late and leave early. Children are durable and don't necessarily wilt under adversity, just as our own children don't necessarily thrive under luxury and comfort. Lucky you to be in a place where you can see all of this with your own eyes.

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