Studs – Studs Terkel – 50s Hercules single-speed conversion
One of Chicago’s favorite sons, was born in New York City. Louis Terkel would spend the first years of his life from 1912 until 1920 in NYC, before his tailor father Samuel Terkel and mother Anna Finkelin would move him and his older brothers Ben and Meyer to run a rooming house. It is in the lobby of the rooming house that Louis began to foster a life-long fascination with people and their stories. Chicago would make Studs Terkel.
Louis Studs Terkel would marry Ida Goldberg, and have a son Dan. He would receive his Jurus Doctorate form the University of Chicago Law School, but then promptly join a theater group instead of pursuing a legal career. His nickname came from a character he was playing, Studs Lonigan in a James Farrell play when the director wanted to distinguish between him and another Louis.
His career progressed to stints as voice talent in soap operas, broadcasting and acting roles. He first gained true acclaim for radio work and was the host of The Studs Terkel Program on WFMT in Chicago from 1952 until 1997. He also had roles in film and a television program, but his true talent was in creating tomes of oral history. His natural charisma and laid back manner put his interview subjects at ease. It wasn’t an interview, it was a conversation with Studs, uncovering real feelings, true personas, and the authentic account of one who had been there. His efforts were to document the very real and regular people. Not just the brokers and players and stars, but the tenders of bars, and sweepers of streets and makers of things. He told the stories of the people that lived events so that his books about the Depression (Hard Times), what people do in their every day life (Working) or World War 2, (The Good War) were oral histories of the participants, making them the story of America. Precisely because they spanned such a great spectrum of humanity is what made it resonate so clearly with so many. Studs died on Halloween 2008 in his home at the age of 96.
Studs is a 54 cm 1950s Hercules 3-speed to single speed conversion. He was a really bad mess when I picked him up via Craig’s List. It had been spray-painted black over rust with what appeared to be white-out painted over the lugs, and nearly every part pocked with rust.
Very early in the process it was decided this frame would be Studs. The English 3-speed actually had a geometry not unlike a very relaxed road-frame meets a hybrid frame. I set about to save the headset, handlebars and stem. The crank was super-ruined from previous attempt(s) to take out the cotters in the cranks and from some crazy tweaking on it that didn’t seem to work at removal, but quite effectively bent both arms of the crank. A grinder removed the crank in about a minute. Too bad as it was a nice design on the chainring, but non-salvageable but for a lovely clock someday or something.
The goal was to give Studs a very relaxed city bike feel. We converted him to a single speed with 700c wheels which are Formula flip-flop hubs with 16t fixed and freewheel, built onto Salsa Delgado Cross rims. Crucial to the conversion was using the original fenders, which was very difficult with the larger wheel size and Tektro R538 caliper brakes controlled by generic cheap cruiser levers and sparkly green grips, which serves as the second color nod, complimented by Kenda Kwest tires and green Jagwire housing. The finish is Black with silver flake and it absolutely beams in the sun.
The original spring saddle is plenty comfortable, for 20 feet. If you really are right to ride Studs, we’ll give you a better feeling saddle, but there are no better looking ones than this slightly bedraggled old leather spring saddle to go with the disco-ball paint job and the sacrilege of converting a British lightweight so disrespectfully.