On an otherwise very pleasant and lovely drive home on Friday, Halloween, NPR's All Things Considered reported on the passing of noted Chicago author and interviewer Studs Terkel at age 96. I first ran into Studs in bits and pieces I read in the Chicago Tribune while I was in college at Northwestern, but it was the NU yearbook photography crew where I really learned to appreciate the man. A fixture of classical radio station WFMT-FM in Chicago for 45 years, Studs didn't interview people -- he held conversations where he either told the stories of others or teased the stories out of the people he interviewed. During long hours in the darkroom, I could count on the hardcore photographers to have Studs' show on the radio when it was on. Little "n" news, one might say. He was at once both patient and insightful as well as quite a character. He was a lefty who was blacklisted from television only to resurface on the radio and still manage to make his career. He cared about people.
My late father-in-law, Bob Morrow, dearly loved to read and listen to Studs Terkel. I always assumed Studs would go first and Bob and I would debate the merits of his works. Alas, Bob didn't live that long and Studs Terkel didn't make it to one-hundred. Such are vagaries of life. But that's exactly what Studs wrote about. He took on the great historical and life events of Americans -- working, World War II, the Depression and even dying itself.
The Chicago Trib's obit is here.
"My epitaph? My epitaph will be 'Curiosity did not kill this cat,'" he once said.
It is, as they say, the end of a era.