Scott Simon speaks

October 17, 2012

Rick Kogan

These are some of Scott Simon’s memories.

Yes, that Scott Simon, the Scott Simon you listen to as host of Weekend Edition on NPR.

Yes, that Scott Simon, who will join me later in the show.

He is a child of Chicago and these are some of his memories:

  • On sports: "I am a fan. Fans don't get much respect. In literature and pop culture, advertising and conversation, we are often seen as the anonymously clamorous: bug-eyed and beer-swollen, inert perennials who come to life only as we cheer and jeer the exertions of those who are stronger, fitter, more graceful and bold."
  • On sports again, and life: "Most of these recollections trace my life as a fan through Chicago's major sports teams, baseball, football, and basketball, the Cubs, Bears and Bulls. It is also a partial catalog of loves: friends, family (lineal and spiritual), the confluence of faith, theater and politics; and, finally, overall, Chicago."                                                                                                                                                                                
  • On visiting the old main branch of the Chicago library: “I'd take the steps on a concrete staircase two at a time up to the entrance of the library. There was a reading room on the third floor, overlooking Michigan Avenue, where you could fill out slips to receive softball-sized spools of microfilm that you could thread on a machine with a screen that would show you the pages of old newspapers."
      
  • On covering the Gulf War: “The middle of the night during the middle months of covering the war I often twitched sleeplessly in the sleeping bag on the bunker floor on which I was assigned to bed down.”                           
  • On the illness that would take his stepfather, Ralph Newman, a scholar (and former minor-league-baseball player) whose Abraham Lincoln bookstore here was nationally known: "The intimacy and urgency of his needs dismayed him. Now, he needed help just to attend himself in the bathroom. . . .[A] look of absolute embarrassment would tint and twist his face. It was so unlike any other countenance I had seen in Ralph, it made him almost unrecognizable."

These memories come from one of the books that Simon has written, Home and Away: Memoir of a Fan. He has written others, Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball, and the novels Pretty Birds and Windy City.

We will talk about some of that later and if you need a further inducement to listen to our conversation, we will talk about what it was like for him to have Jack Brickhouse as his godfather.