Right toward the end of our interview, Tom asked me if I ever met Studs Terkel. I did, I said, one time, just a few months before he died. “He was a great man,” he said. “We really miss having him around.” I agreed, sure, but said I thought a few of his questions might baffle contemporary readers.
For example, Studs asked a lot of his interviewees, what do you think would happen if Jesus came back to earth?
I think I asked somebody that, not too long ago.
Tom starts thinking. We were wrapping up our talk, preparing to move on with our respective days, but now he’s getting into it again. Perhaps it’s the setting, the church in Pullman, or maybe, like Studs, Tom just wanted to know the answer.
You know, what comes to mind is, would people believe that it’s him? About 90 percent of the people, they’d probably call the police. Hey you better come lock this guy up. I would find Jesus quite fascinating to meet. I’m not afraid to talk to hardly anybody, so I would give this guy with long hair and sandals an audience at least, and if he began to preach to me the way that Jesus preached I’d say, That’s a pretty odd fellow [laughs] with an interesting delivery, speaking in parables. OK, let’s see where’s he going and where’s he coming from. Kind of a cool guy.