At gathering of readers, neighbors made a bad week better

"The clock is your friend, John!" he'd say. "The clock is your friend!"

Listeners would call and I'd whine that he was picking on me and that if Jim were a nun he would have whipped out a ruler and rapped me on the knuckles.

"Will you stop with the iced coffee?" he'd hiss at me during a break. "They can hear it. I can hear it. It's driving me crazy."

And then I'd slowly reach for the glass and swirl it.

Jeffrey Carlin, the producer, would run in and we'd pretend that we were fighting. It was a gag.

Jim was 63, older than I thought. He had that successful "Awake with Jake" program on Saturday mornings, and he read one of my first columns on the air, about a cut-rate coffin store where you could walk up, get a cheap coffin and keep it in your garage until you needed it. I'll never forget calling my brothers telling them to listen to him.

Jim Edwards should have had a regular weekday show much earlier in his career. But that's the way it worked out.

So there at Elmhurst College on Tuesday, in the middle of a bad week, the flu in my chest, I don't mind telling you I was feeling low.

But when you're down, sometimes neighbors see you through, like all the readers who showed up Tuesday. It was like chicken soup, and tea with honey and lemon, only better.

And I just wanted to say: Thanks, everybody.

jskass@tribune.com

Twitter @John_Kass

CHICAGO

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