It was the summer of 1969 and we were teenagers now. Just graduating 8th grade and like those with in-ear headphones attached to their phone, we had ear plugs attached to our transistor radios in those days listening to our favorite radio station.
For me in Chicago, that spelled out WLS radio along with the sounds of Proud Mary, Bad Moon Rising, Easy to be Hard and You’ve Made Me So Very Happy. WLS had been progressing rapidly and had been voted station of the year three years in a row. Along with the tops hits on the infamous billboard charts and once had been home to my favorite disc jockey. Larry Lujack,who passed away at the age of 73 jarred my memories full steam ahead and the day he acknowledged our presence behind the glass.
We lived on the south side of Chicago and loved going downtown. Jumping on the Illinois Central made us feel worldly; my best friend and I who had grown together since toddler years. Our plan was lunch at Wimpy s and head to WLS. Though I don’t remember how it was arranged, we were the lucky ones.
As we approached the building at 360 North Michigan Ave, I kept feeling that maybe I would become famous that day. And maybe I am in a strange sort of way. As my hands began to perspire, we walked inside the foyer and it wasn’t long before we met our escort to take us to WLS.
The hallway was quiet and long. It seemed like forever…until we reached his broadcasting booth…encased in glass. And though I knew he was just beginning as a Chicago celebrity, who knew what time would bring for him to continue his celebrated status to broadcast in his home just recently in California, a span of over 40 years.
He waved and smiled. And somehow, his smile exemplified more than confidence but a real respect for others.
Those that knew him have referred to him as a humanitarian and seem to share more memories of his sincere and giving nature than his success as a hard edged broadcaster. His wife, Jude comments that he wasn’t defined by being a super jock but for a man who had a true passion for others.
Thank you, Uncle Lar, for that signature smile that will live on forever.