As the Titanic went down, I came up...


That's a quote from Studs Terkel, great Chicago writer, who died the day before yesterday at 96.

Chicago, and the world, has lost a great voice. Author. Oral historian. Radio genius. He gave voice to the common man in his acclaimed books Working, Hard Times and many others.

Fortunately, I was able to meet him. He lived in my neighborhood but it was the first time I had ever seen him. I was on the bus one day and saw this stooped, elderly man sitting across from me. That's Studs Terkel I said to myself. So a few seconds before my stop, I got up and said:

Excuse me, Mr. Terkel?

Huh? What? (with a hand to his ear. I think he was almost deaf at this time.)

I just wanted to say it's a pleasure to meet you. I think you're great.

Oh! Great. You've made my day young man! What's your name?

So I told him and he said it was great to meet me. A few other people on the bus looked at me. I don't think they knew who he was.

If you're not familiar with him, his work is more than worth checking out. His interviews are truly amazing.

His work is all over the web but here's a link to the main site. Studs.

He will be missed by many.

6 comments:

K. M. Walton said...

That's cool that you introduced yourself to him - what a great memory that'll be for you. I did check out that link and he was quite a man.

PJ Hoover said...

What a great way to remember him!

Carrie Harris said...

Studs was a total stud. I was in a musical production of Working way back when and it got me started reading his books. Fabulous, and how cool that you got to meet him!

Prince Balthazar said...

I heard an interview on NPR the other day and he was so full of stories and anecdotes. He was like a walking encyclopedia of the 20th century.

He was known by his trademark red and white checked shirt and red socks!

He was a national treasure. It's too bad he didn't live to see the day Obama* would be elected president. He was a die-hard proud liberal.

*Most likely.

devon ellington said...

He was amazing, and will be missed.

Sarah J Clark said...

Amazing story. What a privilege you got to meet him.