Día de los Muertos – R.I.P. Studs Terkel

by angeliska on November 2, 2008

I was saddened to hear that Studs Terkel
died on Halloween. He was an amazing man,
whom I had the honor of meeting a couple of years ago.
We went to visit him at his house in Chicago
on Thanksgiving morning. It was bitter cold
and snow was on the ground, too bright-
it gave me a headache. I was hungry and
dizzy, but forgot all about that when
Studs opened the door in a vivid red plaid bathrobe,
flapping open to reveal a white undershirt
and little old man shorts. He crowed with glee
to see us, and kept offering everyone scotch
even though it was only 10 in the morning.
Perched in his leather easy-chair he was
a tiny elf-king, regaling us with stories
for hours. He and my grandfather met when
they were young actors with the
Chicago Repertory Theater.
The two of them sat and talked
and told tales all through the afternoon,
until the sun was slanting golden all around us.
I recorded every word on my little cassettes,
hoping to transcribe them later- alas,
all the tapes were ruined in the hurricane.
Studs was/is such a huge inspiration to me,
and so many people- for his fearless and
powerful work as boat-rocker and true-story-teller.
I have the same powerful urge-
to want to learn the stories of the people I meet,
ordinary/extraordinary- and to share them.

My great-grandmother, Hilda Satt Polacheck
worked with Studs on the Works Progress Administration’s
Federal Writers’ Project- I love the photograph of them below:

Hilda hated this photograph, she said-
because her slip is showing, which I guess
she though made her look addled-
even though she was very much together.
So here’s a picture of her my grandmother took-
I think it was for her passport:

I remember and honor Studs and Hilda today,
and my grandmother Jean- as well as all of those
dear ones who have traveled on beyond..
Here’s a wish I found from my friend Patience,
that sums up my thoughts pretty darn well:
Felicidades por que hoy es la Dia de los Muertos.
Espero que estas con tu familia, y todos los personas
a tu casa estan a recuerdo de los personas muertos.
A vivir en los corazones que dejamos detras no debajamos morir.

Some favorite quotes from Studs:
“Take it easy, but take it.” For years, this was
the sign-off line on his WFMT radio show
and his self-chosen epitaph:
“Curiosity did not kill this cat.”

Listen to this great obituary on NPR-
So Long, Studs Terkel, And Thanks

This was at Maker Faire this year (and last),
a huge papier-mâché calavera for Día de los Muertos.

You could buy a marigold (from a local organic farm, natch)
and write a message or the names of your beloved dead.
Oh yes, and clearly- I’ve discovered the magic of Poladroid!

There were so many fabulous Catrinas and Catrines
at ¡Disko De Los Muertos!
-this lady was one of the loveliest..
I’m still recovering from all of that-
my stars, it was insane!
Despite many disasters of all shapes
and sizes, the night was incredible-
pictures soon!


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