Studs Terkel Quote

“Work is about a search for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment rather than torpor; in short, for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying.”
― Studs Terkel

 

 

“I always love to quote Albert Einstein because nobody dares contradict him.”
― Studs Terkel

 

 

 

“People are hungry for stories. It’s part of our very being. Storytelling is a form of history, of immortality too. It goes from one generation to another. -Studs Terkel”
― Studs Terkel

 

 

“Most of us have jobs that are too small for our spirits.”
― Studs Terkel

 

 

“More and more we are into communications; and less and less into communication.”
― Studs Terkel

 

“Curiosity never killed this cat’ — that’s what I’d like as my epitaph”
― Studs Terkel

 

 

“How come you don’t work fourteen hours a day? Your great-great-grandparents did. How come you only work the eight-hour day? Four guys got hanged fighting for the eight-hour day for you.”
― Studs Terkel

 

 

“You know, ‘power corrupts, and absolute power
corrupts absolutely?’ It’s the same with powerlessness.
Absolute powerlessness corrupts absolutely. Einstein
said everything had changed since the atom was split,
except the way we think. We have to think anew.”
― Studs Terkel

 

 

“Most people were raised to think they are not worthy. School is a process of taking beautiful kids who are filled with life and beating them into happy slavery. That’s as true of a twenty-five-thousand-dollar-a-year executive as it is for the poorest.”
Bill Talcott – Organizer”
― Studs Terkel

 

“What I remember most of those times is that poverty creates desperation, and desperation creates violence.”
― Studs Terkel

 

“God, grant me serenity to accept those things I can’t change, the courage to change those I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

-Division St.”
― Studs Terkel

 

 

“What I bring to the interview is respect. The person recognizes that you respect them because you’re listening. Because you’re listening, they feel good about talking to you. When someone tells me a thing that happened, what do I feel inside? I want to get the story out. It’s for the person who reads it to have the feeling . . . In most cases the person I encounter is not a celebrity; rather the ordinary person. “Ordinary” is a word I loathe. It has a patronizing air. I have come across ordinary people who have done extraordinary things. (p. 176)”
― Studs Terkel

 

 

“Chicago is not the most corrupt of cities. The state of New Jersey has a couple. Need we mention Nevada? Chicago, though, is the Big Daddy. Not more corrupt, just more theatrical, more colorful in its shadiness.”
― Studs Terkel

 

 

“I think most of us are looking for a calling, not a job. Most of us, like the assembly-line worker, have jobs that are too small for our spirit. Jobs are not big enough for people.”
― Studs Terkel

 

 

“The whole program of unemployment insurance, Social Security, was a confession of the failure of our whole social order. And confession of failure of Christian principles: that man, in fact, did not look after his brother.”
― Studs Terkel

 

“We have two Governments in Washington: one run by the elected people—which is a minor part—and one run by the moneyed interests, which control everything.”
― Studs Terkel

 

 

“The poor are so busy trying to survive from one day to the next, they haven’t the time or energy to keep score.”
― Studs Terkel

 

“I’m not an optimist. I’m hopeful.”
― Studs Terkel

 

 

“I’ve always felt, in all my books, that there’s a deep decency in the American people and a native intelligence — providing they have the facts, providing they have the information.”
― Studs Terkel

 

 

“Ruby Bates, one of the young white girls, was a remarkable person. She told me she had been driven into prostitution when she was thirteen. She had been working in a textile mill for a pittance. When she asked for a raise, the boss told her to make it up by going with the workers. She told me there was nothing else she could do…Ruby Bates was a remarkable woman. Underneath it all—the poverty, the degradation—she was decent, pure. Here was an illiterate white girl, all of whose training had been clouded by the myths of white supremacy, who, in the struggle for the lives of these nine innocent boys, had come to see the role she was being forced to play. As a murderer. She turned against her oppressors. . .. I shall never forget her.”
― Studs Terkel

 

“I presumably lost $150,000 in the depression of 1937—on my one stock investment—because I did everything Lehman Brothers told me. I said, well, this is a fool’s procedure . . . buying stock in other people’s businesses.”
― Studs Terkel

 

“How goddamn foolish it is, the war. They’s no war in the worth that’s worth fightin’ for. I don’t care where it is. They can’t tell me any different. Money, money is the thing that causes it all. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised that the people that start wars and promote ’em are the men that make the money, make the ammunition, make the clothing and so forth. Just think of the poor kids that are starvin’ to death in Asia and so forth that could be fed with how much you make one big shell of. ~Alvin “Tommy” Bridges”
― Studs Terkel

 

“They would sit and talk and tell us their hard luck story. Whether it was true or not, we never questioned it. It’s very important you learn people as people are.”
― Studs Terkel

 

 

“I’ll never forget that Depression Easter Sunday. Our son was four years old. I bought ten or fifteen cents’ worth of eggs. You didn’t get too many eggs for that. But we were down. Margaret said, ‘Why he’ll find those in five minutes.’ I had a couple in the piano and all around. Tommy got his little Easter basket, and as he would find the eggs, I’d steal ’em out of the basket and re-hide them. The kid had more fun that Easter than he ever had. He hunted Easter eggs for three hours and he never knew the difference. (Laughs.) “My son is now thirty-nine years old. And I bore him to death every Easter with the story. He never even noticed his bag full of Easter eggs never got any fuller. . . .”
― Studs Terkel

 

 

“This I remember. Some people put this out of their minds and forget it. I don’t. I don’t want to forget it. I don’t want it to take the best of me, but I want to be there because this is what happened. This is the truth, you know. History.”
― Studs Terkel

 

 

“The worst day-to-day operators of businesses are bankers.”
― Studs Terkel

 

 

“I am paraphrasing Einstein. I love to do that: nobody dares contradict me.”
― Studs Terkel

 

“After the stock market crash, some New York editors suggested that hearings be held: what had really caused the Depression? They were held in Washington. In retrospect, they make the finest comic reading. The leading industrialists and bankers testified. They hadn’t the foggiest notion what had gone bad. You read a transcript of that record today with amazement: that they could be so unaware. This was their business, yet they didn’t understand the operation of the economy. The only good witnesses were the college professors, who enjoyed a bad reputation in those years. No professor was supposed to know anything practical about the economy.”
― Studs Terkel

 

 

“When I get kind of low, I’d think about a verse I learned at one time, when everybody was fighting me. It went something like this: He has no enemies, you say, My friend, the boast is poor. He who hath mingled in the fray Of duty that the brave endure Must have foes. If he has none, Small is the work he has done. He has hit no traitor on the hip, Has cast no cup from perjured lip, Has never turned the wrong to right, He’s been a coward in the fight.”
― Studs Terkel

 

 

“Perhaps it is this specter that most haunts working men and women: the planned obsolescence of people that is of a piece with the planned obsolescence of the things they make. Or sell.”
― Studs Terkel

 

 

“It is about a search, too, for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment rather than torpor; in short, for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying. Perhaps immortality, too, is part of the quest. To be remembered was the wish, spoken and unspoken, of the heroes and heroines of this book.”
― Studs Terkel

 

 

“Everybody’s entitled to that forty acres and a mule. You’re going to do the work, but you have to have something to work with. If you don’t have a job, where do you go from there? You hear people say Pull yourself up by your bootstraps, and you don’t even have shoes. You’re barefooted. What are you going to pull yourself up by? Our country owes every citizen of the United States of America a means of livelihood. Not a handout, but a way to make it.”
― Studs Terkel

 

 

“People who were personally concerned about a better world, came to Washington, were drawn to it. Even though where we were going was still to be worked out. There was an elan, an optimism . . . an evangelism . . . it was an adventure.”
― Studs Terkel

 

“Because a book is a life, like one man is a life.”
― Studs Terkel

 

 

“Smug respectability, like the poor, we’ve had with us always. Today, however, … such obtuseness is an indulgence we can no longer afford. The computer, nuclear energy for better or worse, and sudden, simultaneous influences upon everyone’s TV screen have raised the ante and the risk considerably.”
― Studs Terkel

 

“People are hungry for stories. It’s part of our very being.”
― Studs Terkel

 

“My mom had always wanted me to better myself. I wanted to better myself because of her. Now when the strikes started, I told her I was going to join the union and the whole movement. I told her I was going to work without pay. She said she was proud of me. (His eyes glisten. A long, long pause.) See, I told her I wanted to be with my people. If I were a company man, nobody would like me any more. I had to belong to somebody and this was it right here. She said, “I pushed you in your early years to try to better yourself and get a social position. But I see that’s not the answer. I know I’ll be proud of you.”
― Studs Terkel

 

“Working in the fields is not in itself a degrading job. It’s hard, but if you’re given regular hours, better pay, decent housing, unemployment and medical compensation, pension plans—we have a very relaxed way of living. But the growers don’t recognize us as persons. That’s the worst thing, the way they treat you. Like we have no brains. Now we see they have no brains. They have only a wallet in their head. The more you squeeze it, the more they cry out.”
― Studs Terkel

 

 

“If I had enough money, I would take busloads of people out to the fields and into the labor camps. Then they’d know how that fine salad got on their table.”
― Studs Terkel

 

 

“It was in ’35—we had this campaign to raise a million tax dollars. In the town of Phillips, one evening, during a blizzard, I was met by a crowd of miners. They were given the day off and a stake to attend this meeting. They surrounded me and said this tax would cost six hundred of them their jobs. They were busted farmers and fortunately found a job in these Home Stake mines. I went back home feeling worried. But the tax was passed, and not a single miner lost his job.”
― Studs Terkel

 

 

“You should have seen the things they were giving babies instead of milk. I remember seeing them put salt-pork gravy in milk bottles and putting a nipple on, and the baby sucking this salt-pork gravy. A real blue baby, dying of starvation. In house after house, I saw that sort of thing.”
― Studs Terkel

 

 

“I don’t know if I’m partisan to the underdog or whether I’m the underdog.”
― Studs Terkel

 

 

“What’s it like to be that goofy little soldier, scared stiff, with his bayonet aimed at Christ? What’s it like to have been a woman in a defense-plant job during World War II? What’s it like to be a kid at the front lines? It’s all funny and tragic at the same time”
― Studs Terkel

 

 

“The overt hustling society is the microcosm of the rest of the society. The power relationships are the same and the games are the same. Only this one I was in control of. The greater one I wasn’t. In the outside society, if I tried to be me, I wasn’t in control of anything. As a bright, assertive woman, I had no power. As a cold, manipulative hustler, I had a lot. I knew I was playing a role. Most women are taught to become what they act. All I did was act out the reality of American womanhood.”
― Studs Terkel

 

 

“A man? If I need a man, wouldn’t you think I’d have one of my own? Must I wait for you?”
― Studs Terkel

 

 

“Though we labor with our minds, this place we can relax in was built by someone who can work with his hands. And his work is as noble as ours. I think the poet owes something to the guy who builds the cabin for him.”
― Studs Terkel

 

“I feel guilty because I think people should do something they really like to do in life. I should do something else, but there is nothing I can do really well. I’m established and make a steady living, so it becomes pretty easy. It’s not very fulfilling . . . but I’m lazy, I admit it. It’s an easier thing to do.”
― Studs Terkel

 

“I began to see how everything was so wrong. When growers can have an intricate watering system to irrigate their crops but they can’t have running water inside the houses of workers.”
― Studs Terkel

 

“Work is about a search for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment rather than torpor; in short, for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying.

Studs Terkel”
― Studs Terkel

 

 

“In the meantime, I would work in the relief office and I began interviewing people . . . and found out how everybody, in order to be eligible for relief, had to have reached absolute bottom. You didn’t have to have a lot of brains to realize that once they reached that stage and you put them on an allowance of a dollar a day for food—how could they ever pull out of it?”
― Studs Terkel

 

 

“It’s a strange thing. This is only thirty-five years ago—Roosevelt, Wallace. We have a new generation in business today. Successful. It’s surprising how quickly they forget the assistance their fathers got from the Government. The Farm Bureau, which I helped organize in this state, didn’t help us in ’35. They take the same position today: we don’t need the Government. I’m just as sure as I’m sitting here, we can’t do it ourselves. Individuals have too many different interests. Who baled out the land banks when they were busted in the Thirties? It was the Federal”
― Studs Terkel

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