In "A Life Lived Backwards: One Man's Life," a new podcast launching in August 2021, Larry Ruttman makes the case that old age can be the best time of life. You'll hear stories of friendship, mentors, romance, the love of learning, Larry's dedication to his faith, his passion for music, history, the law, and, of course, baseball. Tales told by a master storyteller with a razor-sharp memory and a wit to match1 Subscribe and enjoy "A LIfe Lived Backwards: One Man's Life," available on all major podcast platforms.
Subscribe to the podcast on your favorite platform:
Episode 1: What I Mean By "Living My Life Backwards"
How could I know the best part of my life would begin at age seventy? That then I would become an interviewer, an author, a story teller, sort of a personality, and for the first time ever become so immersed in what I was doing, that at those moments I was doing it, nothing else seemed to matter. What a feeling! I still feel it at ninety. That gives meaning to my life. That extends life! And it’s something YOU can experience. I think that is the main reason why I wrote the memoir my good friend, Jordan Rich, just spoke about. I’m not a special person, I’m just a person like any of you listening to this podcast. So I’m hoping my life, and my use of my particular characteristics of Friendship, Inquisitiveness, and Maturation, may help you find yours at any time of life. In this segment I tell of my first book, Voices of Brookline, about my hometown and some of the ordinary and famous people in it, a book I’ve written on my passion for music, titled Intimate Conversations, Face to Face with Matchless Musicians, and how my second career unfolded. In the last twenty years or so, leading to my memoir, Larry Ruttman: A Life Lived Backwards. And about some of the people in my life you’ll meet here and later.
People, always people!
Episode 2: Earlier Relationships
This podcast is entitled “Earlier Relationships,” but as you will discover as we get to know each other better, I tend to digress because so many stories are bursting out of me wanting to be heard. Here we start off with beautiful Hanna and mischievous Jules, the two young kids next door who came over for dinner with their parents, Angie and Eric, just before COVID, and sort of fell in love with us and us with them, mostly due to my wife Lois’ generosity in the amazing gifts she gave to each of them. Then traversing a landscape of how I gate-crashed my way at age twelve in the midst of WWII into the press box at old Braves Field to join company with the sportswriters there for a game between the Braves and the Cards, my summer camp experiences, at one of which I discovered I never would become a Major League pitcher, we arrive at my first love, the Marilyn Monroe lookalike, Karla. I met her just weeks before my entry into the Air Force, and you’ll laugh at how I revisited the memory of that relationship to gently put down my longtime friend and class “man about town,” in an hilarious way fifty-five years later from the dais at our high school reunion.
People, always people!
Episode 3: Voices of Brookline
Voices of Brookline is the title of my first book, which came out in 2005, Brookline’s tercentenary, when I was seventy-four. I never thought I would write a book, let alone one about this famous town where I’ve lived for eighty-eight years. It all started with an interview program I undertook as a lark on local access television called “From Community to Cyberspace,” interviewing in one-hour shows around seventy of the famous and regular inhabitants of the town. What a wonderful experience, teaching me a lot about them, Brookline, and myself, and opening the way to a literary career undreamed of before! That is the sort of thing that can happen to you when you put yourself out there at any point in life.
In this segment you’ll meet some of those folks. Sure, Mike Wallace, Bob Kraft, columnist and Pulitzer Prize-winner, Ellen Goodman, and her sister, historian Jane Holtz Kay, and presidential candidate Mike Dukakis are all there, but so too you will hear of Eddie Barshak and his wife, Regina Barshak, Al Rosen, The Baker sisters, Dolly and Bobbi, and same-sex partner and lawyer, Linda Gavin, folks you’ve probably never heard of, each telling their own important and meaningful stories about the law, escaping the Holocaust, liberating the prisoners at Dachau, finally being redeemed as a marital partner in a landmark legal decision, and the life of vaudeville entertainers! Many more stories will be told from Voices of Brookline. Stay tuned!
People, always people!
Episode 4: Talking with Dogs
I call my wife Lois a “dog whisperer.” She whispered to all of them, loved them all, and was loyal beyond belief to every one, even the terrible-tempered Wammy, our first dog long ago, misnamed after Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and the lovely animals who followed: the Bichon Frises, smart Elke and her daughter, the sweet Mopsy, and Standard Poodles, the queenly Molly and the brave Puppy Puppy. Lois spoke to all of them like they were human beings, and, as I found to my incredulity, THEY UNDERSTOOD, and replied in their own way. It was like witnessing an ongoing miracle! Take Puppy Puppy who lived to almost fifteen, well beyond that breed’s normal life span. How could that be for a dog suffering from life-threatening medical threats and hospitalizing accidents? About halfway through her life, Puppy fell off a high rock playing with another dog, breaking three legs, resulting in delicate surgery not guaranteed by the operating vet to make her whole. Not only did Lois whisper to Puppy, but moved downstairs in our up and down house to sleep on an air mattress with Puppy in her bed by her side every night for six months, during which time Puppy was unable to negotiate the stairs. All that while I knew Lois was talking to Puppy, and that Puppy was responding as the two of them were plotting to prove the vets wrong that Puppy would never again run free. It was inspiring to see the gift Lois bestowed, the resolve Puppy displayed, and the strength of both of them that resulted in Puppy again running with abandon, never once evidencing how severely she had been tested by life.
People, always people! And always with their dogs!
Episode 5: Air Force Stories
Not many of you folks can remember the Korean War during which I served as an ROTC officer in the Air Force from 1952 to 1954 stateside in Washington D. C. during the waning days of Harry Truman’s presidency, and a little later in Wilmington, Delaware, famous for the DuPonts, and later for Joe Biden. It was at the latter that my life almost unraveled at twenty-two, all because of the love affair with the fair Karla, whose father’s Community Church of Boston invited left-leaning luminaries to its rostrum every Sunday, a ‘no no’ during those days when Senator Joe McCarthy and his sidekick, Roy Cohn, were calling practically everybody who blinked too often a Communist. Fear was in the air during those fraught days, and the fear of others caught me up in a web of unfounded suspicion. We all know that romance can get you in trouble, but this one was straightforward. Boy meets girl. girl meets boy, they fall in love. But the Air Force had other ideas. Maybe I was an enemy agent! Even showing them what Karla looked like as the reason for my trips to Boston every chance I got didn’t persuade the brass hats, at least not then. Well, I suggest you listen to this podcast to hear a war story unlike most you’ve heard. I’m still here, so there was no firing squad. I’m a citizen still in good standing at 90. I had some good friends in the AF, of whom you’ll read here, including my boss, the gentle Captain Beck, who flew in the Berlin Airlift. I never did marry Karla, but your know that. When some of the officers on base feted me at the Officers Club when my two-year term was up, they shouted, “You’ll be back!” Wrong! Indeed, that was my last day of service. But I was honored with a Korean War ribbon! And the GI Bill helped me through law school.
People! Always people!
Episode 6: Jewish Life in Brookline, Mass.
Have you ever wondered how Jewish folks get to be that way, whatever way you surmise that may be? A good place to start is heavily Jewish Brookline, MA, my hometown where I was Bar Mitzvah’d at age 13 in 1944, ostensibly then becoming a man, in my case a dubious proposition! What is that ceremony like? Well, you read and sing a portion of the Torah, the five Books of Moses in the Old Testament, before the whole congregation, taught in my case by an old world scholar then recently escaped from Hitler’s clutches. I drove poor Rabbi Simon Udevich crazy with my late comings and lazy habits. If you live long enough you may find out what your teachers were really like, as I did long after the good rabbi passed from the scene. And as I did in a surreal and moving other worldly time I spent with the lovely and loving Miss Marguerite Stuart Greenshields, Master of Lincoln House, as my high school class was called, long after she left this mortal coil, who had poetically counseled us to,
“Help us, O Lord, to be master of ourselves
That we may become the servants of others;....”
People, always people!