Coming of Age: The Story of Our Century by Those Who've Lived It

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Coming of Age: The Story of Our Century by Those Who've Lived It is a collective portrait of our times, woven from the voices of seventy very different people, the youngest of whom is seventy and the oldest ninety-nine. Together they give us an extraordinary panorama of American life and work throughout this century and underscore the ways in which the times have changed. Coming of Age is also, in many ways, a sequel to Terkel's acclaimed Working 1974, for it traces the extraordinary ways our working lives have ...
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Overview

Coming of Age: The Story of Our Century by Those Who've Lived It is a collective portrait of our times, woven from the voices of seventy very different people, the youngest of whom is seventy and the oldest ninety-nine. Together they give us an extraordinary panorama of American life and work throughout this century and underscore the ways in which the times have changed. Coming of Age is also, in many ways, a sequel to Terkel's acclaimed Working 1974, for it traces the extraordinary ways our working lives have changed in the past few decades - often beyond recognition. We meet politicians and preachers, advertising men and hucksters. Here is the partner in a large law firm, suing the colleagues who have forced him out; here, too, is the carpenter, accepting as inevitable the replacement of his skilled tasks by machine. But this is not a group of disgruntled Luddites; most accept - indeed welcome - the new technologies, yet they all deplore the degree to which human contact has declined and how traditional hopes and aspirations have been superseded by the often ruthless demands of the modern corporation.

This collective portrait of our times, woven from the voices of 74 very different people, ranging from the angry farmer in Nebraska to the resigned bank president in New York, provides an extraordinary panorama of American life and work throughout this century, and underscores the ways in which the times have changed.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Youth, so goes the clich, is wasted on the young; likewise, it could be said that old age today is wasted on a younger generation with no sense of the past and willfully ignorant of a wisdom accumulated by years of experience. In his latest oral history, 83-year-old Terkel asks grumpily, "With our past become so irrelevant..., is it any wonder that the young feel so disdainful of their elders?" To reclaim our lost sense of history and to renew respect for our elders, Terkel interviewed 69 individuals who have come of age in the latter part of the 20th century. The youngest is 70, the oldest, 99. Some are well known (artist Jacob Lawrence, actress Uta Hagen, economist John Kenneth Galbraith); others live out of the limelight (a farm workers' organizer, a retired bank president, a librarian). But they all cling to life tenaciously and courageously, acting as "living repositories of our past, our history." For all social science and history collections and where Terkel's books are popular.Wilda Williams, "Library Journal"
Mary Carroll
Whippersnappers of 53 or 64 are too young to qualify for the indefatigable Terkel's new book: in addition to age (70 or older), his 69 confidantes share a willingness to "do battle with dragons." Most readers will recognize some names: economist John Kenneth Galbraith, jazzman Milt Hinton, Victor Reuther of the UAW, retired admiral Gene LaRocque, artist Jacob Lawrence, Rep. Henry Gonzalez, actress/teacher Uta Hagen, former Beatrice Foods CEO Wallace Rasmussen, environmentalist David Brower, dancer Katherine Dunham, or Marvin Miller, who put the Baseball Players' Association on the map. Chicagoans will come across more names they know, like former representative Charles Hayes, Dr. Quentin Young, ex-alderman Leon Despres, and Judge Abraham Lincoln Marovitz. But Terkel's conversations with less well known folk are just as fascinating: we're grateful to have met Kit Tremaine, Wallace and Juanita Nelson, Olga Companioni, Erskine Moore, Aki Kurose, Hank Oettinger, Bresci Thompson, and the other lively people who share their memories and wisdom here. The 83-year-old Terkel's sources "remember" each year of this century and vividly describe critical times in their own lives. Equally nourishing, however, is the fact that these are thoughtful people, who haven't stopped puzzling over history's trajectory, wrestling with the mixed blessings of technology, and worrying about their families'--and their nation's--future. Though some are pessimistic, most would echo a saying Jessie de la Cruz cherishes: ""La esperanza muere al ultimo"" (Hope dies last). Superb oral history.
Booknews
Terkel presents a collective portrait of the century, woven from the voices of 70 Americans from the ages of 70 to 99. Farmers, bankers, leaders of social movements, artists, and politicians trace the ways their lives have changed over the past decades, and reflect on how traditional hopes and aspirations have been superseded by the ruthless demands of the modern corporation. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Booklist
“Superb oral history”
Booklist
BookPage

“Studs Terkel, himself an octogenarian, has personally interviewed senior citizens ranging from their early 70's to almost 100 years of age. In his introduction, Terkel addresses how priceless our elderly citizens and their personal experiences are to our country's heritage. Shirley Venard does a remarkable job interpreting each woman's personal account. Her performances personify their wit, intelligence, fortitude, weariness, spirit and grand sense of humor. Allen Hamilton is a virtual chameleon as he reenacts a wide variety of male personal histories. He adds all the ingredients necessary to portray strong-willed, intelligent men from all walks of life, who have been seasoned by life's unexpected twists and turns.”
AudioFile
The New York Times Review of Books

“Superb oral history”
Booklist
From the Publisher

“It’s a classic, a wonderful example of the Terkel approach: letting people have their say in their own way.”
BookPage

“Inspired. . . . The language spoken here is pure Terkel: the voice of the embattled old liberal shaking his stick at the twentieth century.”
The New York Times Review of Books

From Barnes & Noble
Woven from the voices of 74 very different people ranging in age from 70 to 99, this book provides an extraordinary panorama of American life and work throughout this century and underscores how times have changed. The book, which is in many senses a sequel to Terkel's 1974 best seller Working, is a unique portrait of America--from the angry farmer in Nebraska to the resigned banker in New York to the vanguards of the trade unions.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781565842847
  • Publisher: New Press, The
  • Publication date: 9/28/1995
  • Pages: 468
  • Product dimensions: 6.49 (w) x 9.49 (h) x 1.69 (d)

Meet the Author


ALLEN HAMILTON has worked in regional theaters throughout the country—in Minneapolis, Boston, Arizona, Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Louis and Washington D.C. He has appeared on Broadway and London's West End. He has acted in dozens of television movies and feature films.

STUDS TERKEL (1912-2008) was a free spirit, an outspoken populist, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, a terrible ham, and one of the best-loved characters on the American scene. Born in New York in 1912, he lived in Chicago for over eight decades.

Biography

As a young boy in the early 1920s, Louis "Studs" Terkel moved with his family from New York to Chicago, the sprawling, high-energy city he would call home for the rest of his life. His parents managed hotels catering to a varied and colorful clientele. Listening to the conversations of the tenants, young Terkel developed an early interest in people and their stories and a wide-ranging intellectual curiosity that would lead him in many directions.

He received his law degree from the University of Chicago, but never became a practicing attorney, Instead, he worked briefly in Washington, D.C., then returned to Chicago to take a job in FDR's Works Progress Administration acting and writing plays. In 1939, he married Ida Goldberg. The marriage endured for 60 years, until Ida's death in 1999. He joined the Army during WWII but was discharged because of perforated eardrums. Around this time, he embarked on a long, varied broadcasting career as a sportscaster, news commentator, and disc jockey. He ventured into TV in the 1950s with a relaxed, breezy variety show that helped define the Chicago School of Television, but returned to radio in 1952 with the a daily program of music and interviews that continued for the next 45 years. Among a constellation of memorable guests were Buster Keaton, Billie Holiday, James Baldwin, Leonard Bernstein, Tennessee Williams, Gloria Steinem, and Bob Dylan.

Although his first book Giants of Jazz was published in 1957, Terkel's writing career began in earnest a decade later with Division Street, a book of transcribed interviews with Chicagoans from every walk of life. Hailed by The New Yorker as "totally absorbing," this groundbreaking study paved the way for bestselling oral histories of the Great Depression (Hard Times), the working class (Working), WWII (the Pulitzer Prize winner The Good War), and growing old in America (Coming of Age). He also penned several memoirs, including Talking to Myself (1977), My American Century (1997), and Touch and Go (2007).

Active and engaged to the end, Terkel died in October of 2008 at the age of 96. In its obituary, the Chicago Tribune reprinted this epigrammatic quote from the iconic writer: "My epitaph? My epitaph will be, 'Curiosity did not kill this cat."

Good To Know

Terkel's famous nickname derives from the fictional character Studs Lonigan from James T. Farrell's 1930s coming-of-age trilogy.

Famously outspoken, Terkel was blacklisted from television during the McCarthy era for his "incendiary" political views. Fortunately, he found a wider audience when he was hired by Chicago's fine arts radio station WFMT, where his program was a daily staple for 45 years.

Instantly recognizable by his attire, Terkel always wore a red-checked shirt, grey trousers, and a blue blazer.

He appeared in Eight Men Out, John Sayles's 1988 film about the Chicago Black Sox Scandal of 1919.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Louis "Studs" Terkel
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 16, 1912
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, NY
    1. Date of Death:
      October 31, 2008
    2. Place of Death:
      Chicago, IL

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments and Apologies
Introduction
Prologue: Whose Garden Was This? 1
1 The Big Boys
Jack Culberg 9
Wallace Rasmussen 15
Paul Miller 20
2 The Money Tree
Estelle Strongin 25
Katherine "Kit" Tremaine 30
W.H. "Ping" Ferry 37
3 The Learning Tree
Rochelle Lee 43
Timuel Black 48
Aki Kurose 55
Gertie Fox 64
4 The Firm
Charles A. Bane 71
Judith Vladeck 76
Ernest Goodman 82
5 Hold the Fort
Victor Reuther 89
Genora Johnson Dollinger 97
Charles Hayes 105
Marvin Miller 110
6 Working the Land
Jessie de la Cruz 119
Merle Hansen 124
7 Songs My Mother Taught Me
Russell Knapp 131
Hazel Wolf 136
8 The Muse
Jacob Lawrence 145
Katherine Kuh 150
Katherine Dunham 155
Uta Hagen 161
Milt Hinton 168
9 On the Air
Norman Corwin 177
Robert St. John 182
Charlie Andrews 188
10 The Pitch
Charles A. Kasher 195
Danny Newman 201
11 God
Rev. William Augustus Johnson 209
Betty McCollister 216
Richard McSorley, S.J. 221
Virginia Bowers 227
12 Community
Joe Begley 233
Wallace and Juanita Nelson 240
Raymond Koch 248
Bresci Thompson 253
Guadalupe Reyes 259
13 Health
Quentin Young, M.D. 265
Florence Wald, R.N. 274
Esther Thompson 279
Ted Cox 284
14 The "Others"
Olga Companioni 291
Harry Hay 297
Valerie Taylor 309
15 Public Servant
Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez 317
Sophie Masloff 325
John Kenneth Galbraith 329
Judge Abraham Lincoln Marovitz 334
Leon "Len" Despres 341
16 Law and Order
Charles Lenz 347
Erskine Moore 353
Alice McGrath 361
Eldred (Bob Schneider) 368
17 Whistle Blower
Admiral Gene LaRocque 377
Philip Clay Roettinger 384
Stetson Kennedy 391
John Gofman, M.D. 401
18 Letters to the Editor
Henry "Hank" Oettinger 413
19 Legacy
Sophie Mumford 423
Margot Jacoby 430
Carolyn Peery 438
Helen Nearing 446
20 At the Home
Millie Beck 451
Frances Freeborn Pauley 456
Bessie Doenges 462
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