Jacki Lyden

A good friend of mine is a Marcel Proust scholar and former milliner. She had just been to see fashion icon and brewery fortune heiress Daphne Guinness's exhibition at the Fashion Institute of Technology's Museum at FIT in New York when she sent me this email:

I've been thinking, lately, in light of the dim economic news, about the way we view the truly poor.

The first person who comes to mind is my grandmother. I can see her at her kitchen sink, re-using the wax paper; running to turn out a light; skinning squirrels, deer and rabbits her husband shot.

Mabel was poor by any means you measure — alcoholic father, fourth-grade education, no job. She owned nothing until her second widowhood, when she got a small house at age 70.

When I was a child in Delafield, Wis., I attended Cushing Elementary School. My sisters and I rolled Easter eggs in Cushing Park, and I rode horses at the edge of the old Cushing farm. But I don't remember ever learning a thing about Lt. Alonzo Cushing, a Union officer who was killed at Gettysburg after refusing to retreat in the face of Pickett's Charge.

Aramaic is the lingua franca of the ancient Middle East, the linguistic root of modern day Hebrew and Arabic.

"Once you understand Aramaic," says Karen Stern, "you can read anything. You can read Hebrew, you can read Phoenician. I always call it the little black dress of Semitic languages."

As you enter Cocktail Culture, an intoxicating exhibit of apparel, accoutrement and ephemera at the Rhode Island School of Design's Museum of Art, it's hard not to think of Billy Strayhorn's lyrics in his jazz standard "Lush Life":

I used to visit all those very gay places
those come-what-may places
where one relaxes on the axis of wheel of life
to get the feel of life
from jazz and cocktails

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JACKI LYDEN, Host:

NPR's Jason Beaubien has covered drug policy issues in Latin America, and the brutal violence between drug cartels. He joins us from Mexico City. Good morning, Jason.

JASON BEAUBIEN: Good morning.

Last in a three-part series.

For prostitutes looking to get drug free and off the streets, the Magdalene program in Nashville, Tenn., provides a model for healing. Magdalene offers housing, therapy and a self-sustaining small business that allows the women it serves to make money and gain respect.

That business is Thistle Farms, and the recovering women who run it make body care products by hand and paper made of thistle.

Second in a three-part series.

One-hundred-and-fifty former prostitutes have been through the Magdalene recovery program in Nashville, Tenn. It's a private two-year program for women with criminal histories of drug addiction and prostitution.

On a recent Saturday night, two women who completed the program drive their former "tracks" — the places prostitutes walk.

"This is the Bottoms," says Sheila Simpkins, behind the wheel.

First in a three-part series.

Nashville, Tenn., is hardly a mecca for prostitution. But it thrives there just as in any other major American city.

It's also trying to break the cycle of prostitution, and often that begins with an arrest.

One afternoon in February when the vice squad went out on an undercover detail looking for prostitutes, it almost immediately found Brittany Messina.

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