B-roll footage of Studs Terkel from "Studs on a Soapbox." Highlights include his narrated tours of Bughouse Square, a public debate forum he frequented during his youth, and the rooming house where he grew up. He debates Chicago's gentrification with a construction worker renovating the old building into luxury apartments. Also included is footage of Terkel at his recording studio and typewriter.
00:00Copy video clip URL Terkel tours the crew through Washington Square Park, better known as Bughouse Square, a place where radicals, workers and activists gathered to rant and rave in Terkel’s younger years. His colorful stories introduce us to rum-hungry “one-armed Charlie,” the widow of a Haymarket Square martyr (Lucy Parsons), and the “king of the hobos.” “Dem were the days,” he fondly recalls. “These pigeons, of course, heard everything. They’ve been here forever. That’s why they’re nodding.”
17:53Copy video clip URL B-roll of Terkel walking through the park. Always a character, he gives his best impression of “All Quiet on the Western Front.”
22:43Copy video clip URL Scenery changes to the corner of Wells St. and Grand Ave. in downtown Chicago, the site of the beloved rooming house of Terkel’s youth. Once the Wells Grand Hotel, Terkel shows off his former home. “Look at it now,” he says. “Remade. Gentrified into what?”
26:25Copy video clip URL Terkel strikes up a conversation with a construction worker converting the 50-room hotel into a 9-apartment luxury building. Terkel says to him, “You’re doing your job and you did what you had to do. But for me, when you hit that hammer and demolish that room, there go my memories.” The worker prefers to think of in terms of a “rebirth,” giving new people the ability to make memories there. “Nothing stops. It’s just a continuance. That’s how I’d like to see it,” says the worker. Though they clearly don’t see eye-to-eye, the two men show leave with a mutual respect for each other, and Terkel is impressed with the man’s eloquence.
47:15Copy video clip URL Usama Alshaibi, AV technician at the Chicago Historical Society (now the Chicago History Museum), sits down with Terkel to listen to tapes from his long-running radio show on WFMT. Terkel shows off his tapes of Betty Carter, Mahalia Jackson, Luciano Pavarotti and Louis Armstrong. Color bars follow.
59:24Copy video clip URL Footage of Terkel working away on his electric typewriter, possibly transcribing an interview. The crew stages the shots from a variety of angles. Color bars follow.
1:24:02Copy video clip URL Terkel reads aloud from a poem that inspires much of his work—Bertolt Brecht’s “Questions from a Worker Who Reads.” Calling attention to the anonymous multitudes that don’t make the history books, he asks, “Who built Thebes of the Seven Gates? / In the books you will read the names of kings. / Did the kings haul up the lumps of rock?” He reads the poem aloud multiple times.