Before emails, texts and posts, an intimacy existed that only a hand-written letter could ignite.
Before he became a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, Mike “Mick” Royko was a young airman hoping to win the love and affection of his childhood sweetheart, Carol Duckman. The two grew up together on Chicago’s northwest side, yet Mick did not reveal his love for her until years later when he was in the service and after he heard the news that Carol’s brief first marriage had come to an end. While dozens of suitors hoped to win Carol’s love, it was the power of Mick’s letters that won her heart.
“Royko in Love: Mike’s Letters to Carol” contains 114 letters dated between February 1954 and January 1955. Mike’s son, David, served as the editor and offers commentary throughout to provide context.
At 3 p.m. on Nov. 13, David Royko will read from his collection of his father’s letters at a public gathering in the Main Evanston Public Library’s Community Meeting Room. He will share photographs of his father’s years in the Air Force and beyond and answer questions afterward.
In an interview with Russell Johnson, a librarian in the Reader’s Advisory department of the Library, David Royko shared what he hopes readers will take away from the book: “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.”
For many, Mike Royko is best known for his thought-provoking columns that appeared in three Chicago newspapers throughout his career.
Lesley Williams, head of Adult Services at the Library said, “One of the remarkable things about Royko was his ability to craft thoughtful, funny columns five days a week. He developed that discipline and that fluidity by writing his love letters to Carol. The world needs writers, not just tweeters and texters. The one thing I would want young people to take away from this program is the importance of their words, and how writing can immortalize the rhythms and beauty of everyday life.”
In a time when many are plugged in, “Royko in Love” is a reminder of the essence and power of words. It may even inspire readers to pick up a pen and write.
(Anyone looking for more on Royko may be interested to know that the Library owns seven other Royko-related books: five collections of his columns, his book “Boss,” about the first Mayor Daley’s political machine, and one biography: “Royko, A Life in Print” by F. Richard Ciccone.