David Royko Psy.D

david@davidroyko.com

Royko in Love: The Blog (closed archive - edited)

 

The Royko In Love Blog has been closed. The following is an edited selection of entries.

 -------------------------

Royko In Love in Cleveland
Posted on October 11, 2012 at 11:50 AM

Last night I had a great time presenting Royko In Love at the cozy Lyons Public Library (Lyons is a suburb about a dozen miles southwest of Chicago). As is often the case, the questions I got at the end were my favorite part. However, they couldn't compare to a question I got this past weekend in Cleveland.

Monarch (in Cleveland, where my son Ben currently lives) scheduled a number of presentations during the Family Weekend, and Karen went to a session at the nearby Beachwood Public Library. Her mom, Florence, was along for the Family Weekend, and as Ben and I waited in the car for Karen’s session to wrap up, she came out to tell me that, while walking past a conference room, she overheard someone say, “Royko In Love.” Florence looked in to see a group of ladies, and asked, “Did I just hear someone say ‘Royko In Love?’” Turned out they were discussing the book! Talk about serendipity. This wasn’t even the Chicago area.

“Well,” she said, “the author is right outside.” When I came into the room, I said, “This is the only time I will ever correct my Mother-In-Law, but I’m the editor. Dad wrote the letters.” I then launched into a quick, 3-minute talk about the book before heading back to the car and the big Benny boy.

Before I left, I got a couple of questions. First was whether my father knew Cardinal Bernardin (Chicago’s Archbishop who died about 6 months before Dad). I said I didn’t think so.

And just as I was heading out the door, I got one that I had never heard before, don’t think I’ll get again, won’t ever forget, and could only answer with, “Um, well, not that I know of.”

The question?

“Did he know the Dalai Lama?”

 

1 Comment
Reply robert royko
04:30 PM on October 17, 2012

i met the Dalai Lama at O'Hare when i was manager there in the early 90's. im not kidding when i tell you... my laborers had to lay out the red carpet. I was asking my right hand man Jasper Quito Bontempo why we had to lay out a red carpet for a f---ing Lama?

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Evanston Interview

Posted on November 10, 2011 at 9:15 AM

 

I'll be presenting Royko In Love this Sunday at 3:00pm at the Evanston Public Library, and here's an interview they did with me in anticipation. Thanks so much, EPL!

 

EPL Off the Shelf

An Interview with David Royko

November 9, 2011

 

For over 30 years, famed newspaper columnist Mike Royko visited fans five days a week on page 2 of the Chicago Daily News, the Chicago Sun-Times, and the Chicago Tribune.  Syndicated in over 600 newspapers nationwide, the Pulitzer Prize-winner wrote with eloquence and street-smart wit on wide-ranging topics  including civil rights, Chicago’s political machine, the Cubs, and sensitive, “quiche-eating” men.  But despite his more than 7500 columns, it wasn’t often that Royko offered readers even a passing look into his personal life.  However, fans can finally glimpse his rarely-shared private side in the new book Royko in Love: Mike’s Letters to Carol.  Edited by their son David Royko, the book collects the 114 letters a 21-year-old “Mick” wrote to his childhood sweetheart Carol Duckman from Washington’s Blaine Air Force Base in 1954.  Seductive, sarcastic, and riddled with self-doubt, the letters capture the burgeoning brilliance of the future legend as he courts his soon-to-be wife from 2000 miles away.  On Sunday, November 13th, you can hear David Royko read from Royko in Love when he visits EPL’s 1st Floor Community Meeting Room at 3 p.m.  In anticipation of his visit, we recently spoke with him via telephone about the disappearing art of letter writing, discovering his family’s “holy grail,” his Dad’s many chat room personas, and why Royko in Love makes for “dandy chick lit.”

 

Evanston Public Library:  There is a great literary and historic tradition based on letter writing ranging from Heloise and Abelard to Ken Burns’ Civil War documentary.  Do you feel a sense of loss now that so few people write actual letters?  Will that change how we write history?

 

David Royko:  I do.  I think with every technological advance there are things you gain and things you lose.  Not to say I want to give up my smart phone, but I have a hard time imagining 60 years from now someone putting out a book of their parents’ tweets.  It’s remarkable how quickly things change.  Just the idea of taking pen in hand, folding up the paper, putting a stamp on the envelope, running to the post office, waiting days for a response…  For the generation now coming of age, the whole process is part of history not everyday life.

 

EPL:  I believe you mentioned in the introduction to Royko in Love that writing letters to Carol every day helped your father become a writer because writing became a habitual part of everyday life.

 

DR:  I wish he were still around so I could talk to him about it.  One thing about Dad was that he was very practical, very pragmatic.  There was a quote that used to hang on his office wall – popular among reporters – that said, “Only a blockhead writes for anything but money.”  He wasn’t a thumbsucker writer who would just sit down to philosophize and with the letters he had a very practical reason for writing: his drive to win my mother.  It helped him hone his craft.  Not to say with no letters he wouldn’t have achieved what he did, but they certainly played a role.

 

EPL:  One thing your Dad was noted for was the discipline of writing a column 5 days a week which is practically unheard of these days.

 

DR:  The older I get the more I find it astounding.  People often ask me if he wrote ahead in order to buy himself a few days off, but he really didn’t.  He wrote about what was happening at the moment, and he wasn’t going to write ahead.  That wasn’t the nature of the column.

 

EPL:  Do you think waiting for the letters played a role in the romance?  That the anticipation played a significant role?

 

DR:  Significant but not pleasant.  He was so anxious, and it comes across in the letters.  Anxiety drove him.  Things were in reach but that made him that much more terrified of losing her.

 

EPL:  You’ve described the letters as the ”holy grail” of your family.  Can you tell us how you discovered them, and what it was like reading them for the first time?

 

DR:  My mom sat me down at 13 to have a serious discussion – which was odd – and told me that Dad was not her first husband.  It just floored me.  It wasn’t that she was ashamed or that is was a secret, but at that point even the mention of Larry would send Dad into a depression or a rage.  He just never got over it.  The jealousy was still there after all the years.  She told me about the letters and how they won her heart, and she told me never to mention it to Dad.

 

EPL:  The letters or her first marriage?

 

DR:  One couldn’t be separated from the other.  She meant never to mention Larry which meant never mentioning the letters.  Mom died September 19, 1979, and I never talked to Dad about it.  After he died on April 29, 1997, I was going through some boxes and found a smaller box with all the letters in perfect chronological order.  By the time he died he’d moved half a dozen times but had always kept the letters.  He knew they were there and was the only person on earth who did.  My wife Karen transcribed them and felt a lot of people would enjoy reading them.  I had no sense because I was so close to them.  Without these letters, I wouldn’t exist.

 

EPL:  Can you talk about the process of putting Royko in Love together.  Was there a lot of editing involved?

 

DR:  There was virtually no editing.  The book is all the letters from beginning to end.  As I say in the book, I made some spelling corrections only for readability.  Originally, though, we transcribed the letters not for a book but for safekeeping.  They’re one of a kind, and we wanted to protect them in case of fire or a flood.

 

EPL:  So here’s my geeky librarian question…  What have you done to preserve the actual letters?

 

DR:  Nothing.  They’re sitting in a safe deposit box.  They’re actually remarkably well-preserved since they weren’t handled over the years.  They look like they did when Mom packed them away in the 1960′s or 70′s.

 

EPL:  Did anything about them surprise or disappoint you?

 

DR:  Nothing disappointed me.  I was happy to learn that they really existed as I imagined them, as Mom described them.  They’re funny, sweet, romantic.  Dad was already himself.  He was already “Mike Royko.”  Some of the letters still make me chuckle out loud, and there is so much of hearing him pour his heart out.  He was just finding so many ways over 9 months to say “I love you,” and to see him so young, it really humanizes him for me.

 

EPL:  Did you know he was a romantic before the letters?

 

DR:  I knew he could be romantic.  Under all his toughness was a sentimental streak a mile wide.  People who knew him only through his columns or casually might be shocked by this romantic or sentimental side.  His family wouldn’t be shocked but to have so much of it right there…  It’s very powerful.

 

EPL:  In certain columns he could be romantic–

 

DR:  November Farewell.

 

EPL:  Yes, and in A Pact to Cherish.  He tells Prince Charles and Diana that one day they won’t be as young and good-looking as at the time of their wedding and writes, “But if you haven’t become fools, she will say to you that you are even more handsome now than you were before; and you’ll tell her that she’s more beautiful and desirable then she was then.  And you’ll mean it.  And if you mean it, then it will be true.”

 

DR:  Yeah.  Just now I found myself getting choked up.  He was never sappy, and it just hits me right between the eyes.  The website for Royko in Love includes various related columns he wrote.  They don’t explicitly talk about Mom but they come pretty close.

 

EPL:  Younger women – who I think read some of his columns in isolation – have accused him of being misogynistic.  Why do you think that is?

 

DR:  I’m glad you put it that way.  Dad was a man of his time historically and of his background, and he could seem misogynistic.

 

EPL:  Like the column about women wearing slit dresses who get mad at men for ogling them…

 

DR:  Yeah.  Part of it with Dad was he enjoyed stirring people up.  I can see him sitting there with a grin just picturing people getting mad.  In practice, though, he had about 30 assistants or “leg people” in all the years from the 1960′s until his death.  In all, three were male and the rest were women.  They weren’t eye candy or there just to have cute women around.  These were tough jobs.  It was like grad school to be an assistant to Dad, and they all went on to bigger and better jobs.  People like Ellen Warren, Pam Cytrynbaum, Janan Hanna.  Some things he wrote blew up, but he was never a bigot, racist, or misogynist.  He made everybody mad at times, but it’s wrong to label him as such.

 

EPL:  Do you know what happened to your mother’s letters?

 

DR:  No.  I really don’t know where they would turn up at this point.  I do have some theories.  Knowing Dad, he could have torn them up one night after a fight or in a drunken rage.  But they’re just theories.  I honestly have no idea.

 

EPL:  What would your parents have thought of the book?

 

DR:  I remember talking to Dad about the eventual posthumous book that would be written and him saying, “Wait until I’m dead.”  If he were alive, he’d kill me.  But honestly, if he’s sitting on some cloud somewhere looking down, he’s delighted.  The book shows a different side of him.  Just his raw talent.  He never went to college.  He really was a self-taught, self-made genius.

 

EPL:  Your visit is good timing with the release of the new movie Anonymous which suggests Shakespeare couldn’t really be Shakespeare because a working class guy couldn’t have written like that.

 

DR:  Dad was a voracious reader.  I remember vacations we took as adults when he would read as many as 2 or 3 books in a day.  He was an extremely fast reader but not a skimmer.  He read with depth.  He was a self-educated guy and talking to him… just the sheer breadth, the depth.  If you were talking to a professor you couldn’t have had a deeper conversation.

 

EPL:  Yet he was uncomfortable on TV.  He often seemed tongue-tied in public.  Was this part of that same insecurity he felt talking to Carol at first?

 

DR:  Yeah he didn’t do much TV or public speaking.  Around the right crowd – in the Billy Goat – he could be a great storyteller.  But he always thought of himself as a working man, and he didn’t enjoy doing TV.  He didn’t think of it as part of his job.  His job was to write columns, and damn it that was enough of a job.  He worked hard enough to get the column out.

 

EPL:  How do you think he would have reacted to how journalism has changed?  What would he have thought about blogs and readers’ comments?

 

DR:  He died in 1997.  The Internet was around but by no means like it is today.  He could sense where things were going though.  At the time, everyone at the Trib had an AOL account including Dad, and he really enjoyed chat rooms.  Not as “Royko,” but he’d go in as a character.  He had different personas – a truck driver, a doctor - and he’d chat about different subjects.  My favorite character that I remember was when he’d go in as an avid collector of artificial limbs.  He had some really bizarre conversations.

 

He really enjoyed the Net and saw where it was headed, but I think he would have been surprised with the rapidity of change in journalism and how quickly newspapers were buried.  I wish he could have lived to be 100, but at the same time, his dying meant he didn’t have to watch.  But, then again, it might have been fine.  Over the years every once in a while a writer will say, “Royko would think…”  It’s B.S.  Nobody could know including me.

 

EPL:  What would you like readers to take away from Royko in Love, and what can they expect from your visit to EPL?

 

DR:  There are really two distinct audiences.  First, of course, the Royko fans, but anyone under 40 I assume hasn’t heard of Royko.  Public memory is short.  But even if you have no clue about who he was or couldn’t care less, anyone can enjoy the book from the standpoint that it’s a great love story.  I always like to say that their story is “dandy chick lit.”

 

With the program, I strive to be done in an hour or a little more because there are always a lot of questions.  Royko fans are interested in all aspects of Dad’s life, and it’s always such a pleasure to be around fans of Dad.

 

Interview by Lesley W. and Russell J.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Laddie, Chum and Dornie

Posted on October 7, 2011 at 12:35 AM

I can still hear, in my mind’s ear, Dad addressing somebody as “laddie,” or “chum,” especially if he’d downed a few. “Well, laddie,” he would say, or, “I’ll tell you something, chum,” usually delivered as an off-kilter diminutive endearment, and it meant that he was in a good mood. I never thought about those terms or how they’d entered his personal lexicon, seeming generic and just one (or two) of those things that Dad said. But now I think I know: They came from one of Dad’s personal heroes, his mentor known as “Dornie,” a legendary boss at City News Bureau, Dad’s newspaper boot camp from 1956 to 1959.

“The night city editor was A.A. Dornfeld, name of Arnold, which nobody used,” wrote Michael Pakenham in the Baltimore Sun, March 6, 1999, himself a CNB alum. “He was called Dornie, except when he was called Mr. Dornfeld, which was a very good idea until he told you otherwise…. He never called me by name. It was ‘Boy!’ or ‘Copy!’ or curt phrases best only alluded to in a family newspaper. When you got to be taken seriously, on good days he called you ‘chum’ -- and on very good days, ‘laddie.’”

(Find a copy of Dornfeld’s Behind the Front Page: The Story of the City News Bureau of Chicago to read Dad’s reminiscence of Dornie – he wrote the book’s forward.)

I always find it difficult, as I imagine do many sons, to imagine Dad as anything but a grown-up, the guy in charge, issuing the orders and taking none from nobody. One of the most moving aspects of producing the book, Royko In Love: Mike’s Letters to Carol, was to get to know Dad as a kid in his 20s, taking orders, literally, from his superiors in the Air Force. He took orders from Dornie, too, and apparently picked up a couple of salutations along the way. I’ve only thought of “laddie” and “chum” as words Dad said. Now I know that Dad was “laddie,” at least when Dornie was in a very good mood.

 

1 Comment

John Tryneski

11:40 AM on October 10, 2011 

Nice reminiscence, Dave. My father (who was a little older than yours) used "buddy" and "pal" all the time, but not just when he was in a good mood--"Watch it, pal!" was just as likely to be heard as "Good swing, buddy!".

I guess now we have "dude" and "dudette".

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Another voice, and a "poem," from Dad's Blaine years

Posted on July 27, 2011 at 9:29 AM

 

I received this via e-mail July 12, 2011:

===

David,

 

I'm taking the chance that Mike Royko was your father.  If so, he was stationed in Blaine, WA with the 757th AC&W Squad with my first husband, Charles "Chuck" Jumisko.  I did not know him well but besides being stationed together, Mike and Chuck also played baseball on the Base team.  However, like your father, Chuck passed away, in 1975, and I re-married and returned to Blaine from Bellevue, WA.

 

The reason for my note is to let you know I have one of Mike's writings and would like to send it to you.  It's a take-off of "The Night Before Christmas" with the characters changed to some of the guys he was stationed with.  Even then we all figured he'd do some writing someplace---such a gifted man he was.

 

Please let me know if I'm "talking to the right man" and I'll be happy to send the original poem on to you.

 

Sincerely,

 

Theo (Jumisko) Hull

===

I let Theo know she found the right man, and she not only sent Dad's "Ode to a Comode" (below), she sent the following reminiscences:

===

July 15, 2011

 

Hi, David

 

...I was a very young lady of 19 when I met Chuck (almost 21) and most of his friends.  You might guess that Mike's sharp wit and sense of humor were a bit intimidating to me but I appreciated it all the same.

 

Yes, Blaine was a quiet little town of about 2,000 people and the last stop on the I-5 before entering Canada.  Birch Bay is about a mile from the base but it was a resort area and was pretty much closed down after September.  There was little to do for any young people so a lot of the airmen found a ride into Blaine just five miles away.  There was a movie theater which I worked in, or the bar in the Cafe International. Due to boredom, many of the guys spent too much time there and I imagine were reminiscing about home, etc...  Your Dad was one of them.   He did not seem happy and often appeared to be melancholy.  Now I understand why!  BTW, he didn't spend all his money at the International as it seems to me that some of the younger men ran out of money soon after payday and your Dad was kind enough to loan them some.  Maybe he'd been through the same thing!  I can only imagine his joy and excitement when he was transferred to the Chicago area and therefore, closer to his Carol!

 

The guys worked shift work at the base so they tended to spend off -time with one another.  Chuck was in radar maintenance and had just returned from Korea when he came to Blaine.  About six months later, it was discovered that he should have gone to Sacramento to work on airplanes (needless to say there were none in Blaine).  We were married in July and reported in at Sacto in August.  I do recall some of the names of Mike's friends in the book but did not know them well.

 

Have you been contacted by any of the guys from the 757th who knew Mike?  The only reason for giving me credit for his poem would be if by chance one of Chuck's buddies would read it and we might get in touch.

 

By the way, I thought you'd find it interesting that there were many, many marriages of local girls and airmen; two of my sisters and several girlfriends among them.  Quite a number of men remained in Blaine for one reason or another, and many women became scattered across the country when they married.  With Canada being so close, a number of men married women from there...

 

Sincerely,

 

Theo

===

Thanks so very much, Theo, for Dad's "Ode," and your own words that make the time-period live a bit more.

July 23, 2011

===

"Ode to a Comode"

by Mike Royko, 1954, Blaine, Washington

 

[All spelling and grammar are unaltered/uncorrected. "Re-up" meant to re-enlist. "Blanchard and Davis" refers to a legendary college football duo of the 1940s.]

 

===

 

RADAR MAINTENANCE SECTION

THE FIGHTING 757TH

P.O. Box 548, Blaine, Washington

 

TODAY

 

SUBJECT: The forthcoming wild drinking bout whick will be laugingly referred to as a "Party"

 

TO: The Great White Father and His gang of Wild Eyed, Frothy mouthed enebriates

 

ODE TO A COMODE

Listen my children and you shall hear

How the troops of this section

Did drink all the beer.

Twas early evening 19th of July

And the troops cried out

We are dry, we are dry.

To the house of the chief

In droves they did swarm

With the fear in their eyes

That the beer would get warm.

And the chief did await them

his eyes all agleam

for he had contrived

a naferious scheme.

He would ply them with liquor

And then they would sup

falling prey to his scheme

to make them re-up.

First to arrive as the evening grew dusky

was the troop known as Sam

and he cried "Suck a Husky"!

Then arrived Smitty

with Browny on his right

the Blanchard and Davis

of this Radar Site.

Then showed up Miles

So gay he did prance

little did he know

we would soon take his pants.

Look, there is Nagy

with his cheeks blushing red,

just three or four beers

and he'll be safely in bed.

What is that smoke?

Who can it be?

It's Leo the Lion

Chief of the S.O.P.

Then the crowd grew hushed

Their voices fell low

Here comes Audy

the great hero.

All the troops did arrive

and tilted the cup

till the chief cried out

"Let's all re-up!"

The crowd grew wild

and moved with a start

they fell upon him

with death in their heart.

And Royko did turn

and run like a deer

I didn't see shit

I ain't even here.

But the articles of war

were brought to his ears

and he was sentenced

to 6 7/8 years.

 

So remember, new airmen

don't drink too much brew

this terrible fate

could happen to you.

Henry Wadsworth Longroyko

~~~~~~~~

One thing leads to another...

Posted on October 9, 2010 at 3:24 PM

 

Without really thinking about it, I guess I "outed" Dad the atheist the other day:

Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune / Change of Subject: "Royko had soft and skeptical side"

Another little-known fact about Mike Royko: He was an atheist

Yesterday, Neil Steinberg's Sun-Times column discussed the little-known fact that the late, legendary columnist Mike Royko was an opera buff (as is Steinberg).  His main source, Royko's son David, 51, followed up with an extended blog post, "Yes, Dad Loved Classical Music" in which he wrote:

When (my father) did refer explicitly to classical music, it usually was humorous, like admitting he’d love to conduct the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, chorus and soloists in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, but only if he could be hoisted up in the air and use all of his limbs. The word-picture he painted was hilarious.

But his true feelings for the Ninth were anything but. He adored it. It was almost sacred to him (almost, because he was an atheist), as were the rest of Beethoven’s great symphonies.

I perked up at the parenthetical aside. I was a fan of Royko's writing but never a student of it, and even though cynicism and skepticism often go hand in hand, I'd never detected a hint that he was a fellow nonbeliever. So I wrote to David to ask if I'd missed obvious clues in his father's writing. He replied:

It never was something he talked much about, at least as far as I knew. His lack of belief wasn't something he expressed much, and I never saw him critical of others because of their beliefs (except when beliefs were used in destructive ways). But the very few times it ever came up with me, that's what he was--an atheist, not an agnostic--with no doubt. Mom always defined him as one (she had strong spiritual beliefs but had zero interest in organized religion), and when she died, I honestly think (and saw him) try to believe in something, but it was short-lived.

And though Mike Royko, who passed away in 1997, didn't believe in life after death, he lives on in the thoughts of those who see the latest bizarre twist in local politics and ask themselves, "What would Royko have said about that?"

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

The REAL difference between news shows

Posted on September 29, 2010 at 8:39 PM

 

September's been a month for talking about Royko In Love on TV news shows. I actually did this before, 11 years ago, at that time for the book, Voices of Children of Divorce. What I noticed then, and this time too, was how much the stations differed in one major way. No, not the anchors themselves -- each have been prepared, and asked good questions. And the producers were all friendly, accommodating and expert at making me feel at ease. They're pros after all. And the "Green Rooms," besides not neccessarily being green, do differ in some big ways (maybe I'll spill about that some other time), but they never had an impact on my actual appearance. But this surely did (?):

Makeup.

Being male and not an actor or media personality, I'm unaccustomed to the feeling of makeup being applied and don't particularly enjoy it, though each of the makeup women (not being sexistpiggish here -- they were all women) were, like everyone else at the stations, a pleasure to be around and talk with. And the truth is, I always forgot the facepaint was on and sometimes didn't even remember to wash my face until next morning's shower (TMI?).

 

But, what a range:

 

FOX News Chicago at 9:00pm: The most, lots of brushing and smearing of stuff.

WLS-TV (ABC) News Chicago at 4:00pm: Less than Fox, but still plenty.

WTTW (PBS) Chicago Tonight: The least thus far, a little dab'll do ya.

WGN-TV SuperStation Midday News: NONE! Nobody got near my face (cowards).

 

So, what difference does the makeup make? Those are judgments for more discerning eyes than mine.

 

(Links to the segments are here: What I'm Saying (radio/TV))

 

Dave "don't need no stinkin' Ponds" Royko

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Dad would've been 78 today

Posted on September 19, 2010 at 2:57 AM

 

Dad, a.k.a. Mike Royko, would have turned 78 today, September 19, 2010, and if he were still around, I would not greet him with a “Happy Birthday.”

 

Many people, men and women alike, especially after a “certain age,” prefer to ignore their birthdays and wish the world would too. But the rest of us prefer to ignore their wishes and gleefully rub the day in the birthday boys’ and girls’ faces. Hey, we all get older, so get over it, right?

 

Dad, though, was different. On September 19, 1979, Carol — Mom — died. He’d loved her since they were kids, married her when they were very young adults, and lost her on his 47th birthday. They had been coming up on their 25th wedding anniversary. She was 44.

 

And that was it for birthdays.

 

I might’ve tried a quiet, mumbled “happy birthday” one year, but the reaction, the grunt and turning-away, taught me not to try it again. So year after year, I’d try to find some excuse to stop by, either his home or down at the paper, and casually drop something off, like a book or CD, and never with any mention of why. He’d accept it with a quick “Oh, thanks,” and move on to something else. Dad probably would’ve preferred I’d not even done that, but the gift and lack-of-acknowledgment was my way of letting him know I hadn’t forgotten what day it was, on both counts.

 

Those who got to know Dad in his later years often would attribute his birthday abhorrence to the usual reasons middle-aged and older guys hate them. Dad had a better reason, and the irony was that being a celebrity meant his birthday would always be noted somewhere in the media.

 

“Celebrating his birthday today is Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, Mike Royko.”

 

They always got it wrong. He wasn’t celebrating.

 

But that doesn’t mean we can’t, and now, it won’t bug him. So Happy Birthday Dad, and as I have thought for the past 14 years, I’d be much happier ignoring it with you than saying it without you.

 

Love,

 

David

 

================================

 

This also appears on the University of Chicago Press Blog

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

My conversation with George Shoff of the wedding party

Posted on September 10, 2010 at 10:40 AM

 

I received an e-mail recently from Christopher Shoff, son of George Shoff, of Mom and Dad’s wedding party, wondering if I’d like to talk to his dad. This floored me because I’d never had contact with any of the people who stood up for the wedding.

 

In his letter to Mom of October 25, 1954 (Royko In Love, p. 161), Dad wrote about the upcoming event: “We will have the most unusual group of people imaginable in attendance. I’ll tell you about them. Joe Kahwaty, a Syrian boxer from Brooklyn, 3 years of college, dark, handsome, and a very good friend. George Shoff, a card shark from anywhere and everywhere. Ermono Gurrucchi, an Italian from Connecticut, 270 pounds, 5’10”. Ralph Peterson, best man, electronics engineer from Chicago. Bill Varns, my boss, and another officer who is a farmer from Ohio. Variety? We’ve got it. Baby, the only thing that they all have in common is that they are all good eggs, good friends, and though extremely different, they are alike in that they are gentlemen.”

 

George, who, after his discharge, had gone to Pittsburgh, then L.A. before ending up in real estate, spoke with me by phone on July 25, 2010. He recalled that “the wedding was a private ceremony. Your mom was very pretty and your dad was very enthusiastic.” George remembered the party including, besides Mom, Dad and himself, “an officer that was best man, and Joe Kahwaty who was a very, very good friend, a great guy like your dad." George said that Dad “confided in him a bit about what was happening with Carol, about how she had been married.”

 

Though he used to gamble “but gave it up,” George denied having ever been a “card shark.” “We had no money, so when payday came, people who lost paid up. Your dad used to get very, very nervous at card games if it was for cash.  We played poker, five-card, seven-card stud, blackjack. Your dad would turn red or purple if he was losing. He was a fairly good poker player.”

 

George, an accomplished golfer--having caddied for Byron Nelson and other notables--enjoyed playing with Dad. “He was quick tempered but friendly. Quick witted. He had a lot of friends.” At one point, they needed cash and applied for part-time jobs at the local Birch Bay Resort. “We were hired as painters,” George remembered, “but we had no experience and didn't know that you had to add thinner to the oil-based paint. It was so thick without the thinner,” said George, laughing, “it took us four or five hours to paint a 4x4 square!”

 

For fun, “We used to go to Vancouver and buy 10-cent beers that were 10% alcohol,” says George, who remembered the men in the taverns sitting separate from their dates. George never saw Dad very drunk.

 

George didn’t recall Dad ever mentioning writing as a future career. “He said he was going into real estate with his sister,” which would likely have been Eleanor.

 

And as we were saying good-bye, George closed with: “Your dad and I were very good friends.”

 

 

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Royko's kid's plans screwed up by Daley's kid

Posted on September 7, 2010 at 5:12 PM

 

CHANGE OF PLANS: How's this for a bit of irony? I've been bumped by Mayor Richard M. Daley, who announced today that he will NOT be running for another term and will hang it up at the end of his term next year. Chicago Tonight will be devoting the whole hour to this, and I'll be re-booked later this month. I think I hear his dad cackling from above -- Royko's kid's plans screwed up by Daley's kid.

 

 

 

"When Carol was alive, I was so much more."

Posted on August 18, 2010 at 3:37 PM

 

From Slug it: Royko, by John Schulian in the March, 1985 issue of GQ magazine, which I hadn't seen in 25 years until sombody sent it my way this week (thank you Alex Belth):

“You lose a wife, you never really come out of it. What happens is, you become different. I don’t think my life has had a hell of a lot of meaning since Carol’s death. Since she died, I’ve never been sure what the hell I’m about. I could accept dying tomorrow because I don’t think I fill any great importance to anybody. My life has lost its structure. I still know who I am. I’ve been who I am for so frigging long. I’m Royko the columnist. When Carol was alive, I was so much more.” Mike Royko, 1985

 

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And the very first "review" is in

Posted on August 13, 2010 at 10:18 AM

 

Today's Amazon.com customer review from Gail Powers ("Abra") is the very first review I've seen of the book anywhere -- and may they all be so positive.

 

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Royko In Love: the blog

Posted on August 5, 2010 at 9:32 AM

 

The word is that Amazon started shipping pre-ordered copies of Royko In Love this week. Watch those mailboxes.