Raw interview footage of Studs Terkel at the Newberry Library. Terkel is being interviewed for a Chicago-oriented program.
00:00Copy video clip URL Tape begins with color bars and tone.
00:12Copy video clip URL A shot of Terkel before the interview.
00:24Copy video clip URL The interviewer asks Terkel to talk about Bughouse Square in Chicago.
00:34Copy video clip URL Terkel begins to talk about Bughouse Square. “It is the place that makes Chicago unique among all American cities. It was the place, an area devoted to free speech. You could say, no matter what you felt, this is the one area where you could say it.” Terkel begins to talk about the Chicago of the 1920s and the type of people who would congregate at Bughouse Square. Terkel then describes some of the different themes and topics presented at Bughouse Square. One memorable character Terkel reminisces about is “One Armed” Charlie Wendorff. Terkel excitedly stands up and acts out Wendorff’s speech at Bughouse Square.
09:50Copy video clip URL Terkel goes into more detail about Bughouse Square. He goes on to talk about the Cold War and its effect on free speech. He states that Bughouse Square was the “antithesis” of the fear of free speech in the Cold War era.
11:57Copy video clip URL The interviewer asks Terkel to talk about what made Bughouse Square a distinct part of Chicago in comparison to other cities. Terkel talks about the many components that made up Chicago at the time. He cites Carl Sandburg’s poem “Chicago” and states that the spirit of Sandburg’s Chicago was present at Bughouse Square. Terkel then talks about Chicago being the city of skyscrapers.
14:21Copy video clip URL The interviewer asks Terkel to talk about some of the other great speakers from Bughouse Square. Terkel mentions names like Clarence Darrow, a famous American lawyer, and Bob Ingersoll, Civil War veteran and 19th century American political leader. He goes on to describe Lucy Parsons. Parsons’ husband had been tried and hanged in the Haymarket Affair, and Lucy Parsons was a regular speaker at Bughouse Square. Terkel then talks about a few other speakers who spoke at the square at that time. Terkel then talks about the 1860 Wigwam Convention and the nomination of Abraham Lincoln for President.
18:28Copy video clip URL The interviewer asks Terkel how the square became known as “Bughouse Square.” Terkel states that the term “bughouse” was genially derogatory and more of a comic description. He explains that many of the men who would come through there were transients. Terkel then begins to talk about many of the political sayings and phrases that came into being at the time.
20:07Copy video clip URL The interviewer asks Terkel about the hobos in Bughouse Square. Terkel replies that hobos and Bughouse Square were not directly related. He states that much of the audience at the square was made up of workmen and laborers. Terkel then goes on to talk about skid row, where many of the underprivileged and homeless were located in the city. Terkel states that the term “hobo” was more of a descriptive word in describing the working class people who were at the square, and was not a term used for the homeless at the time.
21:12Copy video clip URL Terkel talks about the reason people would come to Bughouse Square. He states that many were there for a good time and to just listen to what the speakers had to say. Terkel then talks about Chicago’s pride for Bughouse Square during the time. He also states that Bughouse Square was quite the tourist attraction throughout the years.
24:19Copy video clip URL The interviewer asks Terkel about the treating of the Potawatomi tribe in the early days of Chicago before it had become a city. Terkel states, “The Potawatomi were here you know, but they were had. They were taken. They were euchred as they were in all parts of the country.” Terkel then talks about Nelson Algren’s essay, “Chicago: City On The Make.” In the essay, Algren speaks of the Potawatomi tribe and how they were “taken down to their last mocassin.” Terkel talks about the irony of Chicago being a place of “banditry and thievery, as well as of eloquence and heroism.”
25:36Copy video clip URL The interviewer asks Terkel to talk about Marquette and Joliet and their importance to Chicago. Terkel goes into great detail about the early settlers of Chicago, specifically the “failed forty-eighters,” a group of German liberals who first settled in Chicago. Terkel also goes on to talk about the early Irish influence in Chicago as well.
28:25Copy video clip URL The screen goes to black and color bars for a little over thirty seconds.
28:57Copy video clip URL Quick cut back to a shot of Terkel. At this point the crew has just changed the previous tape and is testing the levels.
29:19Copy video clip URL The interviewer asks Terkel about the Billy Goat Curse. After hearing this, Terkel immediately gets a little annoyed about the the thought of talking about that subject and nearly curses on camera. The interviewer then quickly changes the subject and asks Terkel to talk about the birth of pizza in Chicago. Terkel goes into the history of pizza in Chicago and talks about Rick Riccardo conceiving the idea of Chicago style pizza. The interviewer then asks Terkel about deep dish pizza and how it differs from other styles. Terkel quickly admits that he has no interest in talking about that subject. He then goes onto talk about Chicago politics, specifically the corruption within it and “Bathhouse John,” a Chicago alderman at the turn of the 19th century. The interviewer asks Terkel to talk about other remnants of the city’s past, one being the Everly Club, a celebrated sporting house/brothel in early Chicago.
35:32Copy video clip URL The interviewer asks Terkel about the “L” in Chicago and where the term “The Loop” was derived from. Terkel briefly talks about the “L” and goes on to talk a little bit about Chicago being the “skyscraper city. The interviewer then asks Terkel about Nelson Algren and his thoughts on the “L.” Terkel talks about Algren’s writings on Chicago and how true they are to the city. “Nelson Algren was able to capture the quality of Chicago, or the shadow of Chicago, Chicago the shadows at night. He would say, ‘the city behind the billboards.'” Terkel then talks about the city’s characteristics in great detail.
38:35Copy video clip URL The interviewer asks Terkel about the birth of gospel and Thomas Dorsey. Terkel talks about his friendship with Mahalia Jackson and Dorsey’s contribution to the gospel movement.
39:39Copy video clip URL The interviewer asks Terkel if there is a unique spirit in Chicago among its citizens. Terkel admits that it is hard to say if there is a spirit in the city nowadays and talks a little bit about Chicago’s current identity.
41:16Copy video clip URL The interviewer asks Terkel whether he sees Chicago as more of a hustler town than New York. Terkel says that Chicago is just as much of a hustler town as New York or Hollywood. He believes that the three cities are fairly equal in that respect, but states that the notion that Chicago is a hustler’s town is interestingly relayed through many Hollywood movies. He goes on to state that Chicago is just a little “more colorful” than other cities in that respect. Terkel then admits that he is running out of steam and asks the interviewer to ask him only a few more questions.
42:24Copy video clip URL The interviewer asks Terkel to talk about O’Hare Airport. Terkel only briefly talks about this and admits that he doesn’t know much about how O’Hare Airport came to be. The interviewer then asks Terkel to talk about the Chicago Fire and Mrs. O’Leary. Terkel states that O’Leary’s cow is a myth and goes on to talk about the rebuilding of the city after the fire. He then goes onto talk about the Sears Roebuck company and its influence in Chicago. He recalls a funny story in which he had to use a Sears Roebuck catalogue for toilet paper while on a trip to Mongolia.
45:07Copy video clip URL The interviewer asks Terkel about the Sears Tower. At this point, Terkel is about done with the interview and tells the interviewer that he had just given him the ending in the previous question. However, the interviewer continues to prod Terkel with a few more questions. Terkel then ends the interview.
46:50Copy video clip URL The cameraman follows Terkel as he leaves the Newberry Library. Terkel takes the cameraman over to Bughouse Square, which is right next to the library. Terkel talks about Bughouse Square with much vigor and delight before going to hail a cab home.
49:47Copy video clip URL Some extra b-roll footage before the tape ends.
51:11Copy video clip URL Tape ends.