Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Studs Terkel 1912-2008

I was never introduced to Studs Terkel but I rode home on the #147 Lake Shore Drive express bus with him for many years during the '70s and '80s.

Yeah, that's right.

Studs might have been a world famous author and radio host but he took public transportation. He was an incredibly friendly guy who would talk to people about anything, everything, as we were all jammed like sardines into the humid bowels of the CTA bus. He was hard to miss with his white hair, his red shirts, red socks, and his distinctive voice.

I was way to shy to ever ask him anything but I enjoyed listening. A lot. When he would board the bus, you'd always hear people greeting him and that was my cue to wriggle my way closer to where he might be talking. Just as often he would be hanging onto the rail and have his nose in a book or papers and then no one would bother him.

When I was growing up his WFMT radio show was quite frankly too sophisticated for my tastes. The people that he interviewed and the records he played were folks that didn't begin to interest me until I was much older. But I read his Chicago oral history book Division Street America while I was still in high school and it was a real eye opener for a suburban kid from Chicago's North Shore.

One thing that always sticks out in my mind was that Studs always promoted the blues/folk singer Big Bill Broonzy. Somehow I came into possession of a Big Bill album freshman year in high school and at the time he just wasn't my cup of tea. So I traded it to a friend for a THEM import ep that had Gloria and Baby Please Don't Go on it. I thought it was a fair enough trade then and I still do now. Not like I have any idea what happened to the disc. Like so many records from back then, it somehow just faded away.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Getting interviewed by Studs was one of the coolest moments of the last 20 years for me.

Just wish he could have lived to see the election...

--smccloud (too lazy to log in)