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Preview: Comments on: Thank you, Studs Terkel!

Comments on: Thank you, Studs Terkel!

Christopher Lydon in conversation on arts, ideas and politics

Last Build Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2018 15:46:00 +0000


By: potter

Sat, 08 Nov 2008 19:00:11 +0000

Thank you for this! I am catching up on the obituaries and tributes to Studs Terkel. If only he would have lived a little longer to reflect on this election result. He was a wonderful storyteller of real life stories, and so too a teacher. The audio here is essential- to hear his words from him. Today in the NYtimes Adam Cohen wrote a piece about Terkel's book "Hard Times": A Vivid Window on the Depression Excerpt: After the great crash of 1929, the Wells-Grand Hotel in Chicago began losing guests. The ones who remained had more time for idle pastimes. “The decks of cards were wearing out more quickly” and “the black and red squares of the checkerboard were becoming indistinguishable.” Those are the recollections of Studs Terkel, from his classic oral history of the Great Depression, “Hard Times.” I found myself re-reading the book this week because of the confluence of two unhappy events: the economic downturn and the death of Mr. Terkel on Oct. 31. He was 96. I knew Mr. Terkel a bit — enough to appreciate his gentle nature, his deep interest in people of all sorts and his drive to reform the world. As I turned the pages of “Hard Times,” I was struck by the remarkable fit between historian and subject. In Mr. Terkel’s wide-ranging interviews, the horrors of the Depression come through vividly. A manual laborer on the San Francisco waterfront recalled that when a sugar refinery offered four jobs to a crowd massed at the gates, “a thousand men would fight like a pack of Alaskan dogs” over them. Dorothy Day, the Catholic social activist, told Mr. Terkel that in 1933 and 1934, “there were so many evictions on the East Side, you couldn’t walk down the streets without seeing furniture on the sidewalk.” An African-American hobo, Louis Banks, said that when he rode on top of boxcars, there was a railroad policeman who wouldn’t ask him to get off the train; he would just shoot.

By: nother

Mon, 03 Nov 2008 21:18:46 +0000

"I think it's realistic to have hope. One can be a perverse idealist and say the easiest thing: 'I despair. The world's no good.' That's a perverse idealist. It's practical to hope, because the hope is for us to survive as a human species. That's very realistic." -Studs Terkel Election Day, November, 1884 If I should need to name, O Western World, your powerfulest scene and show, 'Twould not be you, Niagara--nor you, ye limitless prairies--nor your huge rifts of canyons, Colorado, Nor you, Yosemite--nor Yellowstone, with all its spasmic geyser-loops ascending to the skies, appearing and disappearing, Nor Oregon's white cones--nor Huron's belt of mighty lakes--nor Mississippi's stream: --This seething hemisphere's humanity, as now, I'd name--the still small voice vibrating--America's choosing day, (The heart of it not in the chosen--the act itself the main, the quadriennial choosing,) The stretch of North and South arous'd--sea-board and inland-- Texas to Maine--the Prairie States--Vermont, Virginia, California, The final ballot-shower from East to West--the paradox and conflict, The countless snow-flakes falling--(a swordless conflict, Yet more than all Rome's wars of old, or modern Napoleon's:) the peaceful choice of all, Or good or ill humanity--welcoming the darker odds, the dross: --Foams and ferments the wine? it serves to purify--while the heart pants, life glows: These stormy gusts and winds waft precious ships, Swell'd Washington's, Jefferson's, Lincoln's sails. -Walt Whitman