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Memories of Studs Terkel

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Watch WTTW's Rich Samuels and Studs Terkel talk about a life well lived.

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Here are some of the memories we've gathered from our listeners:

My memories of Studs Terkel…
After all the years I've been fortunate to have listened to and read Studs, I've received a priceless education on what it means to be Human. Something I could not have gotten anywhere at any price. Studs spirit lives on.
– Jeff Wojnicki, Grayslake

My memories of Studs Terkel…
After a late night and early morning working on the Studs WFMT special programming, I picked up my son at the Metra train stop today - Saturday. It was 3:05 pm. As we drove the short route home, we listened to the opening of Studs' 1963 "This Train." At the exact moment Studs uttered the words "this train," I glanced at a sign in front of a neighbor's house that read..."John's trains downstairs." Some sort of private holiday train show he has. My wife is convinced that it was Studs' way of saying thanks. Weird, huh?
– Peter Whorf, WFMT Program Director, Chicago

My memories of Studs Terkel…
Much has been said about the tempestuous side of Studs Terkel's personality. I worked in public relations for WFMT in the late 1980s through the end of his daily radio program in 1997. I would describe most of my encounters with Studs as "contentious with a smile." We both wanted the same things for WFMT, for its staff, for its audience, for Chicago. But we almost never agreed on the path to get to those 'improvements". Most often we would agree to disagree or just drop the argument until the next issue arose. As a young transplant to Chicago, knowing him was for me a precious gift - of Chicago history, of cultural and political awareness and growth, of different ways to look at a problem, of shared joy for simple victories of human spirit and understanding. And always, after all the conversations, debates and semantic disagreement about this thing or that issue, there was mutual respect...and a comforting smile right next to that omni-present cigar.
– Jon Kavanaugh, Chicago

My memories of Studs Terkel…
I was in Brent Books looking at calendars yesterday (Friday 10/31/08). I was surprised to hear the voices Studs recorded of people traveling by train to DC for the gathering at which Martin Luther King Jr. gave his immortal speech. When I asked the clerk whether they were playing a tape of the program, he told me Studs had died that day and WFMT was paying tribute. I was so sad to hear this news and so glad to have had the opportunity to hear the Free Spirit's programs over the years.

I did not love Studs unconditionally. He often irked me when he would interrupt an interviewee to guide the conversation in his own direction. Too, I hated, in the years when I was home with my young son, to have my classical listening interrupted at 10 a.m. every day. Later, I worked for a WFMT listener, a professor at Northwestern University, who would always cluck and turn off the radio at 10.

Nonetheless, I have enjoyed so many of Studs' stories and interviews and traditions so thoroughly. They are like treasures in my mental attic. Among these are three of his Christmas programs - the interview of the Southern writer who spoke of her parents' crafting doll houses and sewing doll clothes for her and her sister; the man talking about a black and white family sharing a charitable food donation - including "stripety candy;" Studs reading a Pennsylvania Dutch Christmas story. I love Studs' interview of Birgit Nielsson - especially when she speaks of Swedish Christmases she enjoyed as a child, and how she admonished an emotional student to sing a Brahms song in such a way that Brahms would cry. (I can hear these people's voices in my mind now.)

Studs by interviewing her introduced me to the writer Anais Nin. I ended up reading most if not all of what she has written. A postcard picture of Ms. Nin is on my dresser mirror today. He introduced me to and/or exposed me to many other fascinating people. He truly expanded my horizons and gave me much pleasure and much belief in mankind. I love the story about the grandmother robbing a store to feed starving children.

As a musician, I adored Studs' musical programs, especially Mahalia Jackson and his interview(s) of Lotte Lehmann. "Born to Die" and his Thanksgiving program further reinforce my personal values.

I think it is wonderful that Studs died on Halloween afternoon. In my mind's eye I see him interviewing ghoulies as he dances his way to Heaven!

Thanks to Studs and to WFMT!
– Vonnie Lorber, Evanston

My memories of Studs Terkel…
In 1993 I organized a chamber concert with three Chicago Symphony colleagues to benefit the locked-out workers at the Staley Manufacturing Company down in Decatur, IL. Studs kindly invited us on his show to promote the event. I called him at his home to plan and schedule the taping, and found him oddly distracted as he talked to me. In fact, he kept shouting these odd outbursts that seemed unrelated to our conversation: "NO!!!! What did you call that??? RUN, DAMMIT!!!" "Studs, is this a bad time?" I finally asked him. "I can call back later." It turned out that he was watching the baseball playoffs on TV and screaming at his television. The Phillies were playing the Atlanta Braves, and he was rooting passionately for Philadelphia. Why? The Atlanta Braves fans had a rather ugly ritual at that time (maybe they still do) called the "Tomahawk Chop". To stereotyped pentatonic Indian War Dance music, they would pantomime waving tomahawks, which Studs quite correctly perceived as denigrating to Native Americans. He explained this to me, in rather colorful language. "So I hope the Phillies beat their brains out!"

Studs as baseball fan - that is a side of him that doesn't get much press.
– Max Raimi, Chicago

My memories of Studs Terkel…
Like so many others I am saddened by the death of Studs Terkel, yet I cannot help but marvel at the life he lived, the people he helped and affected. Yesterday and today I have been listening to WFMT, hearing the music he loved, the people he interviewed, the remembrances of friends and colleagues and listeners. As several have said they learned more from Stud's show than they had at school, and I am in that camp. When I listened to his show, he put the world into perspective, and my cares and fears were always much less after eleven than they were before ten. And, I met him. I was driving a cab and took him to the old Northwestern Station. Yes--he was, as has been said, a good tipper. He was going to Highwood to visit friends. He must have volunteered this, for, unlike Studs, I am not a good interviewer, and he added there are some very good restaurants in Highwood. Years later on the way to Wisconsin my wife and I detoured to Highwood for an early dinner, simply because Studs had mentioned there were good restaurants there. His triumphs have been duly recorded, but perhaps the greatest for Studs or for anyone is to live to old age and to avoid cynicism. His belief in the potential of the human spirit remained to the end. He was a hero--and the restaurant was Italian and very good.
– Jerry Dalton, Niles

My memories of Studs Terkel…
I shed tears today when I heard that Studs had died. My first thought was that he didn't get a chance to vote for Obama. Then my second thought came that Studs would have cared enough about this election that he would have submitted an absentee ballot.

I was first introduced to Studs (&WMFT) by my former husband who was a native of Evanston. Every time we visited Evanston, we always listened to WMFT & I especially enjoyed the Studs talk show. My most memorable Studs show was the one he did in tribute to Jacques Brel (since I am a great fan of Brel). Studs was so eclectic in his topics and so down to earth in all that he did that it is hard to imagine such an earthy guy in heaven. My hope is that he reincarnates soon and comes back to help the next generations try to save this crazy world. Even though I think he was an agnostic, I bid Studs via con dios. He will know that I wish him safe passage to his next assignment. Peace, Mary
– Mary Miller, Milton, Delaware

My memories of Studs Terkel…
My special memory of Studs only dates back to August 2007 when he spoke at an archivists' annual meeting in Chicago. His hearing was basically shot, but he was still just as charming as ever. During his talk he called himself an agnostic, then said "You know what an agnostic is...[he gave us a moment to look at each other like "yeah, we know what that is", then he continued]...a cowardly atheist." I asked him a question about Big Bill Broonzy and he lit right up - clearly still having a deep respect for that great man.

One last comment: I will miss that wonderful laugh Studs had, something like Bert from Sesame Street's Ernie & Bert - how can you hear that laugh without cracking out a big grin? Thankfully we have many great interview tapes to remind us of that laugh and many, many more wonderful memories. Thank you Studs for being there for us. You set a very high standard that will probably never be matched. We will sure miss you!
– Rob DeLand, Grayslake

My memories of Studs Terkel…
My wife and I moved to Chicago to attend Graduate school at the school of the art institute in the late 70s. Stud's program quickly became the place to be at I believe 10 o'clock in the am. He was better than two cups of coffee in the morning and I wanted to meet him. I started delivering for the Reader and the Billy Goat was one of my stops and I would see Studs and Royko at the bar and always they would say "Hey Reader Man" and as a true reader driver in those days we never refuse a drink to a point and I was honored to sit and chat with the old boy. Cheers to a life well lived.
– Fred Valentine, Queens, New York

My memories of Studs Terkel…
I never had the opportunity to meet Studs Terkel, but I had the pleasure of hearing him read one of my poems on his radio program in 1980. That year, Studs was one of 16 individuals and organizations honored in The Illinois Governor's Awards for the Arts. Each honoree was presented with a copy of PRAIRIE VOICES, a limited edition, hand-printed collection of work by Illinois poets, selected by Northern Illinois University's Lucien Stryk. On his radio program following the awards ceremony, Studs read all of the poems in the collection, including my ARRIVING AT A NEW POEM AFTER LONG SILENCE, AFTER SEEING A GESTURE BY A FRIEND. I do not expect ever to hear a better reading of my work. He was a great, giving human being, and I'm grateful to have had this generous gift from him.
– David Curry, Chicago

My memories of Studs Terkel…
My dad, Izzy Zverow, was a CSO violist who had known Studs during the WPA artist program days in Chicago. We used to run into Studs now and then and he and dad would always schmooze a bit before going on their way.

When I was 11 or 12, my parents took me to the Blue Note in Chicago, a jazz club that hosted a Monday night folk music event; the night we went, Studs, as narrator, Win Stracke, who founded the Old Town School of Folk Music, and pianist Chet Roble were there. We chatted with them after the show and years later, when I ran into Studs at the Opera House, he asked if dad was "still fiddling around.

I took the Sheridan Road bus to work for some years and often would overhear Studs' conversation with passengers. I was always amazed that this man whose fame grew daily was as passionately interested in what others did and thought as if he were a kid on his first outing. And that reminded me that Studs' WFMT interviews were really conversations, not traditional interviews, into which he injected his enthusiasm and curiosity. Amazing man!
– Leoni Zverow McVey, Park Ridge

My memories of Studs Terkel…
In 1954 I was working at the theatre in the round at Chevy Chase. Studs Terkel and Beverly Younger appeared in the play "The Time of Your Life. I have always remembered the idea from that play. In the time of your life live so that you will have no regrets.
– Martha Lindberg, Des Plaines

My memories of Studs Terkel…
Studs Terkel and WFMT came into our Wilmette home about 1953 when I was in high school. I must have heard a great many of his programs. Years later, when I met Studs at a function at Barat College, I told him that, for me, his voice was like that of Gabriel Heater or H. V. Kaltenborn. He roared with laughter, as if he weren't in the same league. But of course he was, and so much more enduring.
– Patricia C. Willis, Hamden, Connecticut

My memories of Studs Terkel…
I met Studs on Michigan Ave. one wonderful summer day. I was walking south across from the Tribune building. I noticed him because of his red checkered shirt and red socks. I walk past Studs not wanting to bother him...he was standing against a building reading a newspaper and smoking his cigar. I thankfully changed my mind...I backed up looked at Studs and said "Hello Studs how ya doing." He answered back, "Good kid how about you?" I waved back...we smiled at each other and I went on my way. Studs Terkel had called me kid...I felt I was someone. I will miss him. What a life. Good bye Studs...and thanks.
– Kevin Craig, Chicago

My memories of Studs Terkel…
Some of my earliest memories are of listening to Studs' program on WFMT. Not only an "eclectic disc jockey," he was a true Renaissance man, with a curiosity about people that wasn't a merely intellectual curiosity, but one that arose from a genuine and compassionate heart. His thirst for knowledge and for life was an inspiration. He's always been part of my life's landscape, with a voice and a laugh that were unmistakable. To me, he was Chicago, he was Everyman, but he was also unique. I will miss him greatly, and don't mind saying that I cried when I heard of his death. This I know: if there is a God, Studs is interviewing her right now (and probably organizing the angels)!
– Joan Pantsios, Chicago

My memories of Studs Terkel…
I remember the "Train" broadcast and so many others. What is left of the "civil rights movement" is slowly dying off. I started listening to WFMT in the early 1960's and remember his broadcasts. My first memory of Studs was when we first bought a TV back in the 1940's or 1950's. He had a show in which people came downstairs into I think it was a bar. It may have been called "Stud's Place. He was a real Chicago person. Thanks for the Memories Studs and WFMT.
– Stewart Brekke, Downers Grove

My memories of Studs Terkel…
I remember meeting Studs when coming back from City Hall one day while protesting the war in Vietnam with Ida. He came to pick her up and I got the chance to say hello. Even as a teenager, I knew that this WAS Chicago and he was who I wanted to admire and follow as a role model. Thank you Studs, we will always remember you and all you gave to our city.
– Lauren Zimmerman, Chicago

My memories of Studs Terkel…
I remember listening when Studs' program was called the "Studs Terkel Wax Museum," but didn't listen regularly until the mid 70's. Even so, in 1968 a professor asked us to write down the names of people who had influenced us, and I included Studs Terkel on my list. Studs' reading of "The Young Immigrants" by Ring Lardner is the funniest story I have ever heard. ("Are we lorst, dad?" I inquired tenderly. "Shuddup," he explained.) His program introduced me to people and ideas I would never have run into otherwise. I remember his asking an author to read a passage from his book that Studs had paper-clipped. The author read the passage, paused a bit, then said, "That paragraph summarize everything I wanted to say in my book." Studs was a true renaissance man. We will never see his like again, but there was never his like before.
– Larry Bunce, Oak Park

My memories of Studs Terkel…
Studs, how can you leave us now! We need you more than ever. There are so many more stories for you to capture and preserve for us. You gave voice to the people that history forgets. Who will take your place? Thanks for your passion, your courage, your curiosity, and your love of art and life.
– Mike Montopoli, Washington DC

My memories of Studs Terkel…
I rarely missed listening to your Saturday night programs from Studs historical programs and the programs that followed. I surely you will be able to continue those programs. Grace and Peace to Studs and you.
– Lowell Allen, Chicago

My memories of Studs Terkel…
I found Hard Times on the shelf of one of the families I babysat for. Thank you, Studs, for finally revealing why my father stores food and the source of so many aspects of our culture I hadn't understood before. I wish I had such a talent for eliciting people's stories because I want to know how people think, what makes our culture tick. Since I don't, I thank goodness he did.
– Anna Lehner, Chicago

My memories of Studs Terkel…
I always felt that Studs was a part of my education as much as any of my high school or college classes. I always tried to listen to his show weekday mornings at 10:00, although I more often heard the repeats Thursday evenings. I learned so much from listening to his show. He opened up a world of ideas through his interviews. I will also be thankful for his insights, passion, and belief that there was much in this world worth fighting for.
– Todd Morning, Elgin

My memories of Studs Terkel…
As a young man I found Studs Terkel among the used books at The Strand Book store in NYC. I had not heard him speak until after reading a number of his books and found a man with a love for the everyday struggles and pleasures of the common person. A true progressive who never used his intelligence and insights to belittle anyone. I will always consider Studs to be an influence on my outlook toward life and hope. I will miss him.
– Paul Ratnofsky, New York

My memories of Studs Terkel…
What a wonderful man and what a remarkable life. I grew up with his voice on WFMT. Has there ever been anyone so enthusiastic about so many things? He was a model in so many ways: his intense curiosity, his extraordinary range of interests, his enthusiasm for music of all kinds, his commitment to civil rights and social justice, his love of life and his love of humanity. I met him only two times. As a student, I went to Barbara's bookstore to get his autograph on my newly bought copy of Division Street America. He treated me with the same warmth and enthusiasm and interest that he showed to much more important people - taking care to write a personal autograph which I still treasure. Some of the happiest and most absorbing times of my life were spent as I worked around the house or set down my writing to have a cup of coffee with Studs on the radio I'll take it Studs, but it’s hard to take it easy. Thank you for everything.
– Beth Genne, Ann Arbor, Michigan

My memories of Studs Terkel…
One of the most wonderfully astounding persons I'll ever know! It was 1964, and I was a young, inexperienced newspaperman in Wisconsin, trying to get a folk music group on its feet in Old Town. On a weekday night, I called WFMT and asked if I could talk with Studs. Of course I could, was the answer. Studs invited us to his apartment on the following Saturday afternoon. The leader of my group and I went over, and not only got all the tips we wanted, but also a five-hour travelog through life and America, with Ida insisting that "you boys can't go yet," and saying that she was cooking for all four of us. There were two storytellers in the Terkel household, Studs and Ida. Our attention was riveted by the magic tales the two of them told us or merely Ida, shaking her head and telling us how she just couldn't understand why Woody Guthrie insisted on having his whisky out of a fruit jar, when she had such nice drinking glasses. Getting a minute's time from Studs Terkel was, for me in those days, several steps higher than getting a few minutes from the President of the U.S. Come to think of it still would be that way today. But instead of a few minutes, we got 5 hours and Ida's supper too. Studs Terkel ... one of the most memorable and wonderful people I ever knew. It's a joy that he was given 96 years, but more than one tear falls today in knowing that those 96 years have passed.
– Mark Oliva, Muenchsteinach Bavaria

My memories of Studs Terkel…
I once saw him having breakfast at Wishbone. I was all excited and when I left I gave him a thumbs up. Not exactly sure if he noticed, he was having a conversation, but it made my day nonetheless. I'll miss knowing a giant such as him is still around. Good bye and thanks for leaving us so much.
– Christian Molinaro, Chicago

My memories of Studs Terkel…
Chicago Cries. Like so many, I was so pleased to meet him and hear him (Barbara's Bookstore). I once saw him standing alone outside City Hall. He had been escorted out and was waiting for a cab, leaning on his cane. I wanted to run across the street and just give him a hug. I still do. Thank you for honoring him.
– Bob, Chicago

My memories of Studs Terkel…
We lost another famous Chicagoan on Wednesday, Gerald Arpino, co-founder of the Joffrey Ballet. Studs interviewed him on several occasions. It might be a nice tribute to both of them to play a segment of one of these interviews.
– Bill Drendel, Chicago

My memories of Studs Terkel…
Twenty-three years ago, my husband, Patrick Reynolds and I were singing with the Community Renewal Chorus. The Chorus had been invited to his show. I remember clearly his face as he leaned over the piano, asking questions about the group and our individual interests. When we sang, he REALLY heard. He took such pleasure, as we all did, in the blend of music that comes from many voices. This time was also special to me because I was pregnant with my son, Owen. Thank you, Studs. It was such a pleasure to be on a radio show of such caliber.
– Lourdes Guerrero, Chicago

My memories of Studs Terkel…
I sent the word to my scattered family. My son, Aaron, in Boston, and my wife, Beth, in London, had this exchange: A: I saw that. I remember his voice. B. Me too. We used to listen to the Thanksgiving day program, rebroadcast each year, as I recall. A: Ah yes, I remember that. While doing the cooking. I too recall that program - it gave special meaning to Thanksgiving. Those were great, and profoundly moving programs: Studs' programs for Thanksgiving, Labor Day, and other holidays. I hope WFMT will be able to make them generally available. They are a great American artistic treasure.
– Howard Helsinger, Chicago

My memories of Studs Terkel…
...began when I was a teenager listening to him on WFMT and continued reading his books and seeing his plays, until 2 years ago when he was a guest at an opening at Steppenwolf Theater. We were ushers and afterwards, we were all together at the Adobe Restaurant on Wells Street in Chicago. It was pouring rain and when it came time to leave, Studs was at the door. Just on the chance that he needed transportation, my wife asked him if he did, and miracle of miracles, he said yes. I got my car, drove up to front of the restaurant, he got in and we drove him HOME! We laughed and talked together all the way. His warmth and humanity surfaced as soon as he began to speak. It took only some 20 minutes, but it was a once in a lifetime experience, never to be forgotten. Thank you for the opportunity to tell my story.
– Jerry Kernes, Des Plaines

My memories of Studs Terkel…
It was 1955. I had called the radio station (I remember it being WJJD) to speak to Studs Terkel who was host of a jazz program. I was very much interested in folk music and where it came from and thought Studs to be the best person to speak with. He very graciously invited me up to the studio and spoke with me between "sets." It was my 22nd birthday and, after the show, he bought me a drink to celebrate. A very nice memory I have carried since. Along with The Midnight Special and frequenting the Gate of Horn, I listened to him on WFMT. And then there was Monday night folk at the Blue Note. Wonderful memories.
– Karen, an aging Folkie from Chicago

My memories of Studs Terkel…
Andrew Patner is just talking about people with whom Studs Terkel had relationships, and mentioned Jean Meltzer. Perhaps he had not heard that Jean passed away last Sunday; her wonderfully evocative memorial service was yesterday afternoon.
– Catherine Masters, Oak Park

My memories of Studs Terkel…
I remember Studs best from my discovery of his 15 minute program on WFMT during the 1960's. During those years after moving to the suburbs I found myself at home with 4 young children, no car, and only one radio which I would carry around the house. My hip would often be black and blue! Those programs, his spirit and identification with the wide spectrum of people he interviewed and the circumstances of their lives launched me into the pursuits that have shaped my life. I feel beholden to him although I have never met him!
– Kathryn Kucera, Mount Prospect

My memories of Studs Terkel…
Studs was a grace to listen to (10AM) the many years I toiled in a factory and went to the University to gain my degree is fine art. In fact, his writing and interviews were the audio equivalent to what I attempted to capture in my artwork, the daily lives and aspirations of the 'invisible men/women' whom populate our society. Studs gave me hope that an artist can still strive toward the goal of shining a light upon the human condition. Studs' life-work will surely inspire people, for generations to come, to follow this selfsame noble pursuit.
– Chris Dorf, Racine Wisconsin

My memories of Studs Terkel…
Studs was a continuing presence in the seminar on American social history that I taught at Lake Forest College for 33 years (1974-2007). One assignment in History 355 entailed conducting an oral history interview. We studied the techniques and the methods devised by Studs Terkel. In so doing we read his books and we listened to his interviews via the WWW. Once the students had completed their interviews, the papers they wrote involved a self-critique of the end result. In preparing these self-critiques, each student was expected to explicitly discuss how it compared - or contrasted - with the oral histories conducted by Studs Terkel.
– Michael Ebner, Lake Forest

My memories of Studs Terkel…
Because of Dan Terkel, Studs Terkel included me in his first best seller, Division Street America. Dan thought his dad should expose the racist practices where I worked, a private employment agency which used a race code on its job listings, pandering to the racial prejudices of their employer clients. I met the Terkels in 1962. Dan and I attended Lakeview High; our families lived on the same block, Pine Grove off Belmont, Chicago's Northside. I'd been listening to WFMT since June, '62, so happy, as I'd just moved from Austin, TX where there were NO FM stations. That summer before school resumed gave me Studs' remarkably edifying interviews and classical music. We were kindred spirits. I'd done Civil Rights' work in Austin before moving to Chicago. He was open to suggestions about guests for the show; he put on two I asked for - Dr. Michio Kaku, a best selling author and physicist, and Kathy Loftus, a pro daycare activist. What did Studs teach me? The importance and effectiveness of networking, and exploiting his curiosity for the greater good.)
Studs deserved every award and encomium he ever received - unique, effortful, brilliant, inquisitive and retentive in so many ways. His wife Ida and son Dan, equally gifted, simply more reserved personalities, are therefore less known. What an immense pleasure and privilege it's been to know this great American family.
– Amber Ladeira, Forest Park

My memories of Studs Terkel…
I dearly hoped to meet him but never did. I've read most of his books and own them. I'm 22 years his junior, and in retirement a writer and radio host. I'm now writing a short article/eulogy to this beloved man. We'll miss him so.
– Stephen Lendman, Chicago

My memories of Studs Terkel…
I was a young correspondent from Germany, working for the daily "tageszeitung" from Berlin on a feature about Chicago and I was lucky to be able to interview Studs Terkel. Some of his books had been published in Germany, and I had come to love "American Dreams, lost and found" as the best book that explained the diversity and sincerity of Americans. Studs received me in his office with the walls lined with all his wonderful Blues and Jazz and classical records and I thought of all the famous and brilliant and creative people that had been interviewed here. Studs Terkel gave me a wonderful lecture about his town and Harold Washington, and he didn't let me leave without two newer of his books that he autographed for me. Actually, in the last couple of weeks, I thought about Studs Terkel a few times and wondered just how much he must have loved to see this charismatic Chicagoan inspire young people in America and elsewhere with his campaign for the presidency and its attempt to move to a post-racial society. I just wish Studs had lived to celebrate this coming Tuesday night. He was one of the most inspiring people I have met in my three years in the US.
– Stefan Schaaf, Berlin, Germany

My memories of Studs Terkel…
Thank Studs for wonderful evenings of great conversation, sincerity and knowledge. You will be missed but never forgotten!
– Nancy, Chicago

My memories of Studs Terkel…
As a child in the early 1970's, I remember, along with seeing Mr. Rogers and the Watergate hearings on TV, listening to Studs on his morning radio program. Or rather, I recall my mother listening to him as she ironed, and me hearing the reassuring sound of Studs' as he interviewed his subject. I understood nothing of what he said, but the mere sound of his voice put me in a good mood; his optimism was infectious and I would feel that no matter what happened, all would be well. As a fifth grader in 1974, a poem I had written in a poetry class at our local library was entered in the Gwendolyn Brooks poetry contest. I won $35, and was featured on the front page of the Tribune. Remarkably, Ms. Brooks called me on the telephone to congratulate me, and my age, I lacked a mature appreciation of the moment. It was very poignant, therefore, when I heard a Studs interview with Ms. Brooks, re-played on WFMT last night, probably recorded at the time I won the contest. Studs also read Ms. Brooks tribute to Marian Anderson as a preface to an interview with that great singer. This is an example of closing that "unbroken circle".
– Lisa Bangs, Chicago

My memories of Studs Terkel…
I, too, am deeply saddened by his passing. I listened to his program on WFMT since the 60s, almost every day. We spoke at length once after a book signing event. One of the main interviews in his book Division Street: America was with my Greek language tutor, Dr. George Drossos. (If you have a copy handy, reread that section: it's very short and bittersweet.) We spoke of Greek town, my own father's life in the Greek theatre of Chicago in the 40s and 50s and many other topics. He signed my book: "To Dino, And the beauty of Nostos - and the sweet Life. Irini!" As he always said, "Take it easy, but take it." And, as we Greeks say, May his memory be eternal.
– Dino Argyropoulos, Chicago

My memories of Studs Terkel…
In 1967 I had discussions with him during lunch in the Greek town (Halsted). The subject was the military junta and the political prisoners in Greece. The junta was supported at that time from both the State Department and NATO (as you know the story is repeated today by the leaders of BUSHLAND in other countries). Studs was astonished and after that I heard him talking against the junta and the US policy in two occasions, one in his WFMT program and another during a rally for Eugene McCarthy (68 Democratic Party convention). He was a great man and a symbol for American liberalism to me. Liberal Americans (if there are any left) should be proud of him.
– George Papatheodorou, Patras Greece

My memories of Studs Terkel…
My friend Studs. I had the life-changing pleasure of singing for Studs, and being on stage with him a fair amount in the past 20 years. I was interviewed on his radio show on WFMT when I was performing social justice pieces. He was most excited by the Spanish Civil War show ‘Pasiones’, I did with Michael Smith and Katrina O’Reilly. Those songs were his favs - he told me I sounded like the great Spanish singers when I sang. He especially liked Brecht’s ode to the workingman: Song of the United Front - which we sang in four languages - it included Michael reading one of Studs’ most quoted poems by Brecht:

Questions from a Worker Who Reads,

“Who built Thebes of the seven gates?
In the books you will find the names of kings.
Did the kings haul up the lumps of rock?
And Babylon, many times demolished
Who raised it up so many times? In what houses of gold-glittering Lima did the builders live?
Where, the evening that the Wall of China was finished Did the masons go?“

He loved the song Freheit! The Song of the Thaelmann Battalion, Freheit is German for freedom - and it was that song and another of his favorites I sang that he mentioned every time he saw me - and every time he introduced me to people. ‘Jamie and Mike Smith - they sing the Spanish Civil War songs’ - and ‘Annie Laurie!'

He loved when I sang Annie Laurie. I sang it for him for his 90th birthday tribute at the Chicago History Museum. Studs told me Albert Parsons - the Haymarket martyr, sang Annie Laurie from his prison cell the night before he died. I tell that story when I sing it - because I made a promise to him that I would tell the stories, and sing the songs of the people!

And I’d work for social justice.

I visited Studs last on August 29th - he lives not far from me on Chicago’s Northside. I'm pals with Syd Lewis, his editor, and co-author, and she set it up for me. He was at home, and near the end - I told Syd he looked like an elf in a chair. He was surrounded by books and papers, in a yellow brick rambling house with spider webs in the eaves of the porch, and old leaves on the stoop. His caretaker, a gentle man, named JR let me in and told me to get up close and talk to him.
You can stay only a few minutes, cause it tires him out.
Studs knew me and said, ‘Jamie O'Reilly, how are ya? Are you still singing, kid?

I'm not doing so know I can't hear’ - and he can't, so I would usually bring a photo for him to look at when I knew I’d see him.

And he did the talking.

I gestured to the TV. He'd been half-watching the Democratic National Convention. I said, 'It's gonna happen. They're gonna get in.’

He said, 'I don't know. It's all messed up.’

And I didn't know if he meant--himself and his mind--or the state of the world.

I was going to ask him to sign a new collection of Studs' interviews on CD, a gift for my nephew Peter's Graduation. ‘He’s one of the good ones I said.

He’s going to do the good work.'

I showed him Pete's picture with his family, and his Graduation announcement from Cal Tech. I told him Peter was going to work in Washington at the US Patent Office.

He wrote, ‘To Peter, Peace! Studs Terkel’.

Walking out to the too-early fall change in the air, I figured it’s the last time I'll see him. Or possibly the last time he'll know me.

Turned out to be true.

'It's all messed up'...I wished I could have promised him the war would end, the second ‘McCarthy’ era would end, and the Democrats would win the White House, and, and...

His friend Syd told me he was waiting for the election and to publish one more book before he moved on. Almost made it. Died on Halloween. All Hallow’s Eve, the Eve of All Saints, when the Spirits come out to celebrate the dead with the living—he had one, good long go-around with the great spirits who went before him…Ida and Big Bill and Mahalia…and then he joined them.

I drove Studs home from an anti-war event, in a snowstorm the week before America invaded Iraq. I said ‘Well. whatta you think. Are they going in?’

‘We’re going in and it’s gonna be bad’, he said.

He also asked me, do you do this WEB, Internet thing?'

Yes, I replied.

‘They say, maybe that can do something.’ he said. ‘Maybe through this Internet-thing—people will do something.’

That was before Barack, and and the new grassroots, changed elections forever. And with hope, history as well. While the snow covered Lake Shore Drive and we talked about going to war, He sang me Eye of the Sparrow - the song Mahalia sang. ‘You should sing that’.

I sang him Swing Low Sweet Chariot.

‘If you get to heaven ‘fore I do,
Tell all my friends I’m coming after you.
Swing Low Sweet Chariot,
Coming for to carry me home…’

The Chariot’s come and taken you away.

Sleep in peace and I promise, we justice seekers will do the work down here.

Love, Jamie
– Jamie O’Reilly, Chicago

My memories of Studs Terkel…
I lived just a couple of doors down the street from Studs and Ida as I grew up on Pine Grove, but I knew him far better the way everyone else did, through his daily 10:00 AM program, which was integral to my daily life. I believe that Studs, more than any other influence, helped me to form my progressive social and political beliefs. And Studs, more than any other person, taught me to listen.

I just received an email from The Nation that provides links to comments from John Nichols and Calvin Trillin at as well as a link to a eulogy by Dennis Kucinich that I did not see at
– Anthony Gronner, Evanston

My memories of Studs Terkel…
I recall meeting Studs Terkel over ten and a half years ago when I worked at "La Bocca della Verita" restaurant in Chicago's Lincoln Square neighborhood. I worked there for only three months the summer before going off to college. As a 17 yr old, I had just graduated from high school, where I had recently taken a special history course entitled "Chicago History." One of the focuses of the course was to learn about prominent Chicago poets and authors. Studs Terkel's writings and interviews were studied and I was fascinated to learn about him. A few months later I began working in my first job when all of a sudden a kind looking older gentleman walked in with three other people. I immediately recognized this man as being Studs Terkel, as I had seen pictures of him only months before. One of the persons with him was his lovely wife Ida. I remember not only watching him in admiration. But I had to also make sure that his glass of water was always full. Although he was engrossed in his conversation during his dinner, he was so very kind and talkative whenever I would approach his table or any of the other waiters would for that matter. I've never forgotten that experience, as it was one the highlights of that summer before beginning college.

Since that time I have become a lyric baritone and earlier this year, prior to leaving for study and to perform at the Aspen Music Festival, I listened to one of WFMT's rebroadcasts which featured classical musicians, in particular opera singers, being interviewed by Studs Terkel. He was so curious to know more about the artists and their art. Ten years after first meeting him, I was happy to learn that Studs Terkel was also passionate about music. He has left quite a legacy. May he rest in peace.
– Oswaldo Iraheta, Chicago

My memories of Studs Terkel…
My first memory of Studs was watching him on the early TV series, Studs' Place. Though I was just a teen at that time, Studs just seemed to convey something I wanted to hear. As years passed and the family moved to the Chicago area, it became very clear, through his books, TV and movie appearances that Studs was something that was extra special. Studs, to me, was the ultimate Chicagoan, the voice of Chicago, its many beautiful parts as well as it warts. Studs has become of my ten greatest Americans and, along with all of Chicago and the rest of the country, I am deeply saddened at his passing-he was just so very special.
– Ken Jarvis, Arlington Heights

My memories of Studs Terkel…
I forgot when the conversation started, seems so long ago, but it was best conversation I ever heard, and I thought as long as you kept talking you'd live forever, almost.
– Ann Brooks, Chicago

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