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Entries : Studs Terkel and Oral History
Studs Terkel and Oral History

Studs Terkel and Oral History

Studs Terkel is a Pulitzer Prize–winning author and Chicago activist.

See I call Nixon and myself “Neocartesians.” “We tape, therefore we are.” He did, and I do so. But to me, the tape recorder has become part of my life, but there's an irony connected with this [points to tape recorder] since I'm terrible technologically. I goof up; I can't drive a car. Don't mention the “wordprocessor” to me, “word process,” and when you do, smile, because I don't know—I'm learning a typewriter. But I goof up on the tape, and yet, the tape recorder's my ally. Here I am, so when I press the wrong button, as I did, I lost Martha Graham and Michael Redgrave. I lost them. As I pressed the wrong button, I erased them, and so, this is part of my problem, but nonetheless, the tape recorder has helped me tremendously....

My dream during the Depression and as a child of the Depression.... I wanted a job, as every young guy wanted a job, 9 to 5 job, security. What's more secure than a government job? So we took all kinds of examinations. There were these papers called Civil Service Journals. You could tell when exams are being held, and I took them all and finally passed one and went to Washington; that was part of it. But the dream is to have a 9 to 5 job, and instead I wound up on the stage doing soap operas, gangsters, but because I did have a job on the WPA of the New Deal.

Terkel, Studs. Interview with Timothy J. Gilfoyle, Loyola University, on the occasion of the 1995 Making History Awards, Chicago Historical Society.

Gilfoyle, Timothy. “A Chicago School of Literature—Gwendolyn Brooks and Studs Terkel.” Chicago History (Spring 1997): 62–72.