[Studs Terkel toast]

This is a video of the Studs Terkel Toast recorded at the Bismarck Hotel, Chicago, April 9, 1991. Various performers and speakers include: Leon Despres, Pete Seeger, Richie Havens, Bonnie Kolac, Mike Royko, and many others.

00:00Copy video clip URL Tape begins with a black screen.

00:06Copy video clip URL Cut to a shot of the Bismarck Hotel marquee, which reads, “Studs Terkel Toast: Center For Neighborhood Technology.” Master of Ceremonies Aaron Freeman begins to welcome the attendees. During this welcoming, there are a couple of shots of the many audience members filing into the building. Freeman then introduces the first speaker, President and founder of the Center For Neighborhood Technology, Scott Bernstein. Bernstein gives his thanks to the organizing committee for the event. He also talks about the history of the center and Studs Terkel’s importance to all Chicago city communities. He then introduces Mike Touhy, representative of the Chicago Office of Special Events, who reads a proclamation from Mayor Daley. The proclamation states that the day is Studs Terkel Day in Chicago. Bernstein then introduces Nancy Matthews, Executive Director for the Center For Neighborhood Technology, who reads a proclamation from the Illinois legislature. Afterwards, Bernstein makes a few more comments and steps down.

07:28Copy video clip URL Freeman introduces the co-host for the night, Leon Despres, a Chicago alderman known for his opposition to the “machine.” Despres takes the podium and says a few fond words about Terkel and introduces jazz singer Polly Podewell, who is also the daughter of Beverly Younger. She talks about her love for both Terkel and his wife Ida. She begins to sing a song for the audience. Her singing voice rings through the banquet hall. Despres then steps back up to the podium and introduces Beverly Younger. Younger gets a little frustrated with the microphone placement and says some very amusing and heartfelt things about Terkel and his wife, Ida.

18:41Copy video clip URL Despres takes the podium and introduces Cyrus Colter, a prominent novelist and lawyer. Colter is very soft spoken in his speech. He talks about Terkel’s interest in human beings and the human condition. He also talks about Terkel’s literary works. Colter states, “We can see his [Terkel’s] process at work. It is revelatory, achieves in so many unexpected ways a really astonishing accuracy, and at the same time reveals a very complicated Studs Terkel, in all of his humanity.” Despres then takes the podium and introduces the next speaker, WFMT Program Director, Norman Pellegrini.

24:32Copy video clip URL Pellegrini talks about the early days at WFMT and his memories of Studs Terkel’s first program on Christmas Eve in 1952. Pellegrini also talks about Terkel’s mechanical ineptitude.

27:37Copy video clip URL Despres introduces Lew Kreinberg, an urbanologist, author, and one of the founders of the Center For Neighborhood Technology in Chicago. Kreinberg takes the podium and talks about Terkel’s talent for capturing history. He also talks about Terkel’s strong commitment to free speech.

32:47Copy video clip URL Berstein takes the podium and introduces legendary folk singer/guitarist Richie Havens. He performs an acoustic version of a beautiful song entitled, “What About Me.” Havens captivates the audience through the entire performance,  effortlessly cadenced from start to finish. This is a fabulous performance.

40:43Copy video clip URL Freeman introduces Monsignor Jack Egan to the podium. Monsignor Egan says a few funny words about Terkel and gets many laughs through the duration of his speech. He also does an impression of Terkel interviewing Charles Dickens. He ends his speech on a more serious note. “It’s been a joy to live at the same time as you Studs. And I have to say in closing, to all of you that this is a man among good people who loves good humor, savors a beautiful melody, or a well-fashioned sentence, who hates phonies, detests ‘can’t,’ and manages through it all to walk proudly with his god. You will always have a place in my heart Studs, and you’ll never have to pay any rent. Thank you for being you and for giving yourself to all of us so generously.”

46:25Copy video clip URL Freeman introduces Chicago community activist Florence Scala. Scala says many kind words about those involved with night’s events. She praises both Ida and Studs for their generosity and strong opposition to injustice.

49:00Copy video clip URL Paul Carroll, poet and Professor at the University of Chicago, takes the podium and tells the story of how Terkel got the name “Studs.” He also talks about Terkel’s talent for interviewing.

54:12Copy video clip URL Victor Navasky, longtime editor and publisher of the magazine “The Nation,” takes the stage. Navasky talks about Terkel’s talent for interviewing in great detail. He also talks about Terkel’s writing style and refers to it as “investigative conversation” and “moral history.” He also shares a letter written for Terkel from a poet by the name of Frank Reeve.

01:00:22Copy video clip URL Nancy Matthews introduces Pete Seeger and his grandson Tao Rodriguez-Seeger. The two perform the classic Seeger song “All Mixed Up.” The crowd gives Seeger a standing ovation as he takes the stage. The two sing the song together with ease. Seeger even starts a little sing along at one point. They both receive a nice round of applause after they finish.

01:07:57Copy video clip URL Despres takes the podium once again to introduce long time Chicago Tribune columnist Mike Royko.

01:09:47Copy video clip URL Royko takes the stage and makes a couple of jokes in regards to following Pete Seeger. He also says a few words about his first experiences listening to the folk singer and admitting to the fact that Seeger inspired him to take guitar lessons. He then goes on to talk about Terkel’s secret hatred for the Chicago Cubs and his reasoning behind it. He also gives Terkel Nancy Reagan’s book of memoirs as a joke. Royko gets some boisterous laughs while at the podium.

01:17:55Copy video clip URL Despres introduces Chicago Sun-Times columnist Vernon Jarrett. Jarrett speaks of Terkel’s creativity and importance in Jarrett’s own life. He talks in a very soft spoken manner about his own personal experiences with Terkel. He recounts the first instance in which he met Terkel during an interview with Paul Robeson. He also talks about gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, a good friend of Terkel’s. He also recounts a couple of other stories about Terkel’s involvement with the black community.

01:30:24Copy video clip URL Despres takes the podium once again and introduces Quentin Young, Terkel’s personal physician. Young talks about Terkel’s technological ineptitude and his lifelong accomplishments. He also talks about Terkel’s interviewing style and his inability to be a hostile interviewer. He also talks about Terkel’s courage to challenge authority. Young concludes by saying, “Studs doesn’t get older. He just gets better. And as he’s on the threshold of the ninth decade of his life, he’s already a national monument, and I’d say it’s unnatural.”

01:39:45Copy video clip URL Henry Blakely, poet and husband of famous poet Gwendolyn Brooks, reads two poems: the first that he wrote for Terkel, and the second his wife wrote for Terkel. Both poems are very beautifully written and eloquently presented by Blakely.

01:42:58Copy video clip URL Despres takes the podium once again and reads off a couple of messages written for Terkel from those who could not attend the event that night. Some of the various messages included are from Andre Schiffrin, Ed Asner, and Sen. Paul Simon. Despres then introduces Romero Jorja, board member at the CNT and James Hadley, chairman of CNT’s fund raising committee. The two present Terkel with a couple of gifts for all of his hard work at the CNT.

01:48:17Copy video clip URL An elderly Win Stracke is given the microphone at his seat next to Terkel. Stracke tells a story about going over to Terkel’s home to visit with Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, and Lee Hayes, who had been staying with Studs and his wife Ida at the time. Stracke also recalls his time with Terkel at Bughouse Square in Chicago. Stracke passed away only a few short months after this event took place.

01:53:10Copy video clip URL Despres gives a very lengthy and tender introduction for Terkel. “I profoundly admire his willingness to risk his reputation, to risk his credit, to risk his standing, to risk ridicule, or to risk opprobrium, in coming out over and over and over again for causes that he believes in.” Despres goes on to speak very highly of his literary work. Terkel receives a standing ovation as he takes the stage.

01:57:04Copy video clip URL Terkel first gives his thanks to the many that attended the event and promises to keep his speech short. He then begins to talk about the importance of the Center For Neighborhood Technology. He states that his credo comes from A. A. Milne, creator of Winnie the Pooh. “He [Milne] says, ‘Sometimes, when the fights begin, I think I’ll let the dragons win. But then again perhaps I won’t, because they’re dragons, and I don’t.'” Terkel goes on to briefly talk about author Nelson Algren and “Studs’ Place.” He only spends about three minutes at the podium.

02:20:25Copy video clip URL Freeman introduces Chicago folk singer Fred Holstein. Holstein takes the stage, says a few words about Terkel, and performs the popular folk song, “All The Good People.” As Holstein is playing the song, Seeger joins him on stage with a banjo, and slowly but surely, almost all of the evening’s musical performers join him as he finishes the song.

02:04:15Copy video clip URL Singer Bonnie Kolac takes the stage and performs a song for Terkel a cappella.

02:09:14Copy video clip URL All of the performers from the night are led by Seeger through the popular folk song “If I Had A Hammer.” Terkel also joins them on stage and calls for an encore of the song “This Land Is Your Land.” This lasts through the duration of the tape.

02:17:41Copy video clip URL The credits begin to roll. At the end of the credits, there is a dedication to Win Stracke.

02:19:56Copy video clip URL Tape ends.

 

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