Raw footage of an interview for the program "Studs On A Soapbox." Tom Weinberg and others visit Studs Terkel at his home in Uptown. Terkel discusses a variety of topics including: his current book, Will The Circle Be Unbroken?, his writing process and methodology, his work ethic, and a little bit about his wife Ida, who had fairly recently passed on.
00:00Copy video clip URL Color bars.
00:17Copy video clip URL Cut to a shot of Terkel from outside his house as he works on his newest book, Will The Circle Be Unbroken? Weinberg and crew ring the doorbell and wait for Terkel to greet them at the door. Terkel welcomes the three into his home. They begin to make a little small talk about the recent Presidential election which had taken place only a few days earlier. Terkel then takes a seat in his sun room/living room and begins the interview.
02:00Copy video clip URL Weinberg asks Terkel to talk a little bit about his wife Ida. He states that he doesn’t want to talk about his wife because it is “too personal.” Terkel then gives in slightly and says a few words about the void Ida’s death has made in his life. “The loss of my wife of sixty years, Ida, is a void that will be there at all times. And so, you have to become, you have to live with it. You don’t say forget it because you’re not going to forget sixty years. You don’t say overcome it, because you’re not going to overcome it, so you live your life, and, not going to say as though she were here, she’s not, of course the spirit is. So I have fresh daises for her here, the urn is still here, urn of her ashes, and so when I kick off, we’ll mix the two ashes and spread them around Bughouse Square.” Terkel then talks about how many of his contemporaries have passed on and how that has driven him to immerse himself in his work.
05:13Copy video clip URL One of the crew members asks whether Terkel deals with Ida’s death in the book. Terkel states that Ida is present within the book, but that most of the book has to do with other people’s stories. Terkel then begins to talk about a few of the characters from the book. Each one of the stories is quite compelling.
10:49Copy video clip URL One of the crew members asks Terkel whether he believes in life after death. Terkel first giggles and then responds, “Well you’re asking me, no, but I respect people’s opinions who do. If it gives them solace, whatever gives anybody solace or consolation is okay with me. You know I believe we go, we go that’s it, but that’s my point of view.”
11:19Copy video clip URL Weinberg asks Terkel about his impact on one of the characters in the book. Terkel goes into detail about this character’s story. Weinberg then admits that Terkel’s work ethic is a model for him. Weinberg comments on Terkel’s impact upon people once again. Terkel then talks about oral history and refers to himself as a guerrilla journalist. He then talks about his technological and mechanical ineptitude. He eventually begins to tell another story about a character from one of his books.
17:07Copy video clip URL Weinberg asks Terkel whether or not the crew can see some of his transcripts for his newest book. The crew follow Terkel into his dining room to look at his work. The table is extremely cluttered and disorganized, which is how Terkel generally works. Terkel unveils a large stack of transcripts and takes the crew through a little bit of one of them. Terkel talks about his methodology and emphasizes the importance in truly listening to the interviewee. Weinberg then asks Terkel to talk about the physical process of editing and transcribing interviews. Terkel describes processes in great detail. He then talks about some of the other characters included in Will The Circle Be Unbroken? One of the crew members again asks Terkel about his interview and editing process. Terkel then talks about transferring the interview transcripts into a readable form. “There’s no one way. You see, an interview’s form is not written in stone, therefore, what you do, is you keep the words of the person, but over and above all, I keep the truth of that person in. So you make it sort of a soliloquy, gives it a poetic feel, it’s the actual words, but no way do you alter the meaning. If anything you highlight the meaning.” Terkel goes on to talk about the heartache of having to leave certain characters out in order to provide balance to a piece.
28:07Copy video clip URL Weinberg asks Terkel about a play he had written called “Amazing Grace.” Terkel states that the play was horrible and that it had bombed. He also talks about some of the actors involved in the play, whom he calls “wonderful.”
29:06Copy video clip URL Weinberg asks Terkel about the Division Street bridge, which had recently been named after Terkel. Terkel recounts his memory of the naming of the bridge and states that it was Mike Royko’s idea to name the bridge after Terkel.
30:49Copy video clip URL Tape ends.