Category Archives: Episodes


One of the great features of growing older is the fun and interest of being close friends with people of whom we never tire, with whom the conversation always waxes. Such folks inspire us to talk openly, honestly, and helpfully about old age itself. Such a person is my podcast partner, Jordan Rich, who although a generation younger, has a deep understanding of human nature and of my own persona. That and his natural expressiveness give him the power to bring out many of the facets of my nonagenarian life in a fifteen-minute interview. Listen to how masterfully he does this with an ease and humor that aims our talk at the heart. I listened to the recording afterwards and realized Jordan and I had communicated my old age, and his life, as well. The qualities he found in me are in him too, whether it be energy, enthusiasm, optimism, laying back, curiosity, friendship, concentration, advice asked for and given to others, the fun of living, maturing and the growth of self-confidence, liberation, love and marriage – all of that and more is there. But the words are only part of the story. I earnestly invite you to listen to this podcast to feel the warmth between Jordan and me which bring those words to life.

People always people.


Everybody knows Covid changed the pattern of our lives. So too have the crevices now cracking the political landscape of our country. Neighbors used to be friends, adults mixing with kids, young and old mixing with each other. Does that closeness still exist as it did before? Has that difference had an effect on our lives? Perhaps stats cannot answer those questions as well as one’s own experiences. Here are a few of mine.

Our neighbor in the adjoining house for many years was JoAnne Caulfield née Apgar, (self-styled as Josie), until the divorce between her and her husband, John Caulfield, whom you know from previous podcasts. It took some doing but Lois and I remained friendly with both after their split. JoAnne is a real character. One time she arrived home while her house was being burgled. Lois and I ran to our window to see her chasing the thief, axe in hand. Lucky for him he outran her. JoAnne scoped me out in record time, hanging the appellation “Little Lord” around my neck forever. But there was a lot of love in the name. We shared good times. Like when we went together to Symphony Hall to hear the sainted Italian conductor, Claudio Abbado, conduct an orchestra made up of some of Europe’s most gifted young players. It proved to be one of the best concerts ever, the applause drawing encores until midnight! JoAnne’s uniqueness was accentuated by her dress. Let’s start with one sock never matching another, and a plethora of earrings in each ear. Listen to this podcast to hear the rest of JoAnne’s eye-catching and mind pleasing attire. We often shared Thanksgiving. On one of them, unbeknownst to any of the revealers until years later, she dropped the cooked turkey on the way from her house to ours, scooped it up, and placed it on the table as though nothing had happened. We loved every bite that day. Joanne (and John) are a generation younger than Lois and me. That was irrelevant to our friendship. One could ask if it would have flourished in today’s environment? JoAnne’s other moments were spent in her exacting work as a cardiac catheter nurse at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where I am supposing she wore more traditional garb, although often navigating her way there on a bike in heavy traffic.

Just before Covid struck we invited our other next-door neighbors, the Schmiders, Eric and Angie (née Bair), and their beautiful kids, Hanna and Jules, over for dinner. For starters, after being introduced to me, wild Jules draped himself all over me, then when asked to repeat my name, said, “Lois,” with a devilish grin on his face. As dinner progressed Jules showed a big interest in the key to our antique tall glassware cabinet, Generous Lois ran upstairs and returned with the striking and oversized key her father had mistakenly taken from the famed Hotel Excelsior in Rome, and presented it to Jules. Hanna seemed a bit distressed, so Lois ran upstairs again, and returned with TWO necklaces for Hanna, one of pearls. Hanna and Jules left displaying their presents in a state of euphoria. Soon cards arrived with their colorful drawings and inscriptions saying, “We love you.” Needless to say friendships were sealed that day which remain to this day.

The same warm friendship exists with Patrick (son of JoAnne and John), wife Aileen, nee Lee, and their terrific four-year-old daughter, Olivia, who continue the long Caulfield presence in that house. Patrick rates as the best Dad ever, Aileen as the smartest Mom ever, and both among our greatest friends ever. Aileen named Lois and me as surrogate Grandpappy and Grandmammy to Olivia because of the geographical distance of John and Joanne.

Lois and I often remark how lucky we are to be still living the same life we always have at our advanced ages. How much of that results from these friendships no one can accurately assess, but I’m willing to say those and others we enjoy, account for a significant part!


Quite a claim, but true. Aren’t zillions of folk drawn to this great city by its multiplicity of attractions from the historicity of its appearance to its institutions of education, health care, biotechnology, business, finance, transport, manufacturing, tourism, finance and insurance, and hardly least, its music, not to mention its storied sports franchises, the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, and Bruins. Plenty of interesting people to befriend.

Like Dr. Christine Cornejo, the young dermatologist who attended me following my surgeries for melanoma. At our first meeting I saw how thoroughly she examined me. We talked afterwards about her medical education and her parents who had immigrated from Bolivia. She spoke of her hopes in her profession. Her sincerity was obvious. We developed a friendship immediately that went well beyond doctor and patient, and replicates itself every time we meet. I wrote about Christine in my memoir as already a great doctor. Every time her name comes up speaking to her associates, they light up about her capabilities.

Have you ever heard of the Longwood Symphony Orchestra? Sounds pretty professional, doesn’t it? Close, but no cigar. It is made up of doctors and other health care professionals who don’t smoke cigars, but play like their brethren players in the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Many of them could have become professional musicians, but chose to go with a profession of similar value. Next time you see your doc strike up a personal conversation. I have lots of doctor friends of both sexes with whom I’m on a first name basis, and who offer terrific insights to me on health and matters unrelated to health.

The Hub has lots of resources. Manny Casseus is another case in point. Manny came to the United States thirty or more years ago speaking only French, the language of his native Haiti. He met here early on the lady who became his wife. She too had immigrated from Haiti. If any couple reminds us that immigration is the “lifeblood” of our society, it is this couple. Manny now heads up his lab at the Beth Israel Hospital. His wife holds a similar position at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. These are two world famous hospitals. One son recently passed the bar. Another son recently earned an advanced degree. Manny and his family have quickly reached a high level in American society. He and they are what I would call a great American family. How do I know all this? Because using the facilities of his lab, and Manny’s talents for my own health care, we quickly became hugging friends sharing stories of our respective lives whenever we met. Manny always smiled, did his job to perfection, and radiated the charm Haitians project. Lucky me to have found such a friend!

Not that all friendships are in Boston or with health professionals. In LA one time I took my seat at the architecturally pioneering Walt Disney Concert Hall to hear conductor Gustavo Dudamel, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Always connecting, I spoke to the elegant older lady seated alongside. One thing led to another and it turned out she was an opera star of yesteryear. As you can imagine she filled in the intermissions of the concert with fascinating behind the scenes stories of her career.

Listen and you shall hear some other stuff to hold your interest. Like Jordan asking me how I think my own persona impacts other people. I make the attempt. Then Jordan tells me what he thinks the answer is. He is a very smart man, as you know. I agreed with his take.

Along the way we digressed to talk a bit about the fascinating movie industry. We determined to talk about it and its stars on both sides of the camera in a future podcast. So, you have this one to hear now, and about the movies later.

People, Always People


Every once in a while, I like to turn the tables and interview the interviewer on this podcast series. So I did when I interviewed Jordan Rich on depression, and here we are again on friendship, another universal subject. Naturally Shakespeare had it right when he opined in 1 Henry VI that, “Thy friendship makes us fresh, and begets new courage in our breasts.” I would not now be a podcaster had not Jordan said to me I could be a podcaster. So, preparing to do some podcasts with Jordan, I told him I had a “surprise “in store, not to be revealed until we got together so spontaneity would be preserved. As we faced each other to start the show I told Jordan that today I would interview him about friendship, starting with “What is friendship?” Not to spoil your listening, Jordan knocked that one out of the park. So too did he on. “What are the benefits of friendship, including health?” I made the questions tougher as we went along.

I suppose it is fair to drop a few hints to Jordan’s answers and my remarks. He agreed that Arthur Fiedler was a curmudgeon, but unlike many, one with friends. We thought many young loners are the killers who stalk our society. We agreed good friends can be apart for many years and pick up where they left off. In that vein, Jordan jokingly spoke of Sherm Feller, Red Sox PA announcer from 1967 to 1992, who would start off each new season with, “As I was saying….”. Jordan opined that, “There is always room for more friends, quoting homegrown philosopher Yogi Barra’s remark that, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.””

You might ask, ‘Which friends are closer, those in or out of your own family? ‘ Or, ‘Should one tell a friend, or anyone, all one’s secret thoughts?’ Or this universal one, ‘Describe friendship in marriage between husband and wife, and a father and his children?’ Jordan comes from a large family himself, has both children and grandchildren, and lots to say in reply. He says one of the nicest things to do is to read to his seven-year-old granddaughter. I said how much I like relating to kids, and talking to them in their vernacular as people. Jordan agreed, remarking the child then relates better to the elder.

It just may be that you will pick up some neat thoughts about all kinds of friendship listening to this podcast. We got pretty serious talking about race. Jordan says the only thing that matters to him is the character of the person. He tells of the wide mixture of race, ethnic background, language, education, financial status, what have you, among the tenants and staff at the building in Boston where he resides, and how all coexist as one happy family. He wisely opines that no one is entirely free of prejudice, or pre-judging, as he puts it. He says race should not make a difference, but it does. I believe Jordan’s way, with which I wholeheartedly agree, reduces the incidence of racial differences to close to zero.

Perhaps the best answer was Jordan’s last, his description of his long friendship since college and business partnership between himself, a Jew, and Ken Carberry, an Irishman. They split everything 50/50 no matter who brings it in, never have had a real fight. Jordan adds, “I would go to the ends of the earth for Ken.” Wow, what a union!

Jordan and I end by talking of our own ripening friendship. There is that and lots more to hear on this long podcast told seriously and humorously about a facet going back to man’s first days.

People, Always People


That is the title of a course I’m teaching this Summer at the iconic Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill under the guidance of longtime Director, the able Cherie Mittenthal. First a word about timeless Truro, situated on Cape Cod just south of Provincetown of Pilgrim fame where the magical water infused light illuminates the gentle hills and vails of this town lying between the sometimes-savage Atlantic Ocean on the east and the usually gentler swells of Cape Cod Bay on the west, where almost extinct right whales find respite.

What a place to teach! What a place to learn! What is it I will teach? In the course description I said it best.

“It will explore how the writing of a memoir will illuminate the meaning of your own life, deepen your appreciation of what you have accomplished and the personal characteristics which have made that possible, and inspire you to use them to follow a newly bright path to a never before dreamed of future. …. you will be prepared to write your own memoir for your family….and further should ambition lead you there.”

A tall order. But doable. I know, because I lived it writing my own memoir. In this podcast I tell the high points of that story guided by the able, humorous, and knowing hand of my friend and mentor, broadcaster Jordan Rich. In these eighteen minutes you
will acquire a strong notion of the art of memoir.

I never did like to dwell on the past. But you have to plumb the past to write a memoir. What an experience that is! You learn truths you never knew. Like how every single life is interesting. How incidents in your own life which seemed meaningless when they happened were profoundly important in you own maturation. How your inquisitiveness into your own roots lead you to a fuller understanding of your own family, and perhaps the family of your partner in life. How recapturing your life may spark your reaching out to old friends. How you will come to believe your effort will guide yet unborn family members of the future back to you and your and their forbears. Your work will be treasured by them. If you have ever witnessed the look on the faces and the water in the eyes of the guests of Henry Louis Gates Jr. on his program, “Finding Your Roots,” when they discover their own roots from long ago, you will know the truth of what I say. Is it any wonder I entitled my own memoir, “Larry Ruttman: A Life Lived Backwards: An Existential Triad of Friendship, Inquisitiveness, and Maturation.”

I suspect, though, that most of you lived your life forwards. I’m having the strange experience of so far living my best years in old age! Many are afraid to embark on a memoir. With encouragement you will find how easy it is. And the newfound talent that goes along with it, like the art of interview. And surreal experiences of appreciating departed persons in your life whom you hardly knew, like my headmistress in high school, Ms. Marguerite Greenshields, whose heartfelt words to us in the school yearbook brought her so alive in my mind that I shed tears that I never knew that great lady better!

Last and maybe least you will learn something about my own writing style as I answer Jordan’s questions, focusing on a story I wrote about him for my memoir. How, as usual when I sat down to write it I had no idea where to start, but secure in knowing when I found it, the rest would come to me as I wrote. I soon found the start with, “You want to know why I love this guy?” The rest flowed spontaneously and truthfully from my head and heart. In less than an hour the story was done. A few minutes of copy editing, and it was in final draft. Hopefully it meets my wish that the person reading it feels like they are sitting with me as I speak it. But it’s not my way or the highway. There are a zillion ways to write. Just be yourself. That is what attracts folks to you.

People, Always People



When Lois and I visited Israel in the Spring of 1973 around six months before the Yom Kippur War, the atmosphere between the Jews and the Arabs seemed reasonably quiescent. One more cautious than me would have grasped that the boiling passions between the two sides were just below the surface. Danger lurked everywhere. Trusting and optimistic Larry chose to book us into the American Colony Hotel, a posh Jordanian establishment which had long been in Jordan until the Israeli victory in 1967. While no untoward incidents threatened us during our stay at the hotel, being a guest there placed us close to dangerous sites. Take our first night. After dinner I suggested we cross the nearby old city to the Wailing Wall and the Dome of the Rock, today a location of constant strife. Armed Israeli guards stood at the centuries old gate which provided entrance to the city. That should have tipped us off. Entering the narrow streets of the city where souks and stores lined the way. There were no more guards as we traversed the city from one side to the other, the sights were fascinating to our inquisitive eyes, bending our minds away from any danger. We came out to the great and wide plaza where we saw the Wailing Wall, and high above the Dome of the Rock, and armed Israeli guards all about. The failing light, made it a mysterious and thrilling scene. We approached close to the wall, observed those in prayer, and then retreated back through the darkening Old City to return to our hotel.

Still unwisely adventurous, I suggested to my trusting bride that we venture into the West Bank to the rarely visited Herodion, where it is said Herod is buried. No one was in sight when we arrived. We were alone in Arab territory. I could navigate my car only part of the way up the circular road that led to the top where one could look down on the ancient burial site. Lois claimed she was too tired to walk up. I did so, placing her out of my sight for a short time. When I returned there was an old Arab lady sitting nearby whom Lois said had engaged her in conversation. Let’s face it! I had taken us to a location where we were sitting ducks. Lucky for us, we drove back to Jerusalem unhindered. It could have been the end right there close to Herod.

I had told Jordan I would relate our adventures on The Plains of Abraham. A keen student of history, he missed on this one, thinking it was in Israel, as I thought he might. I related to Jordan that the plains are in Quebec City, and it is where the French under General Montcalm were defeated by the English under General Wolfe in 1759, making America English speaking, despite both generals being killed in the battle. My close call there was taking a horrific fall while skating in the lee of the magnificent hotel, Chateau Frontenac, proving yet again the hard bones in my head were matched by those in my hip, protecting me yet again from serious injury.

To Jordan’s amusement I related how we then drove north along the magnificent St. Lawrence River to Point a Pique, a village close to one hundred miles from Quebec City, staying on New Year’s Eve at a Quebecois hotel where we were the only Americans. At the raucous party, the hotel manager chose me to be his dance partner, not his beautiful Japanese wife, which Jordan jokingly described as another close call, “almost fooling around with the hotel manager.” Not likely. I wisely chose Lovely Lois.

People, Always People!


Imagine getting killed on your honeymoon in beautiful Jamaica. Lois and I started out in Montego Bay, our first tropical island, in November, 1963, the day after we were wed. What a gorgeous island, its beauty startlingly apparent as soon as we stepped off the plane. The beach and bay were alluring, even seductive. It impelled us to stay in the sun much too long, burning my face and head, and perhaps being responsible for the melanoma appearing there many years later. Our first stop while driving from Montego to Ocho Rios and the highly regarded Plantation Inn was for a few hours at Rose Hall, a few miles off the road into a remote area where we had to walk on a dirt road to reach that famous site. Rose Hall is where the “Wicked Witch of Jamaica” resided in the 18th Century, and where it is reputed, she did away with a few husbands she didn’t especially care for. Her ghost must have accompanied us when en route in this lonely place, on this dirt road, with an abyss to our left, and a wooded bush to our right, we saw a lone and threatening figure approaching us at a distance. Inquisitiveness turned to fear when we saw he was armed with a machete! I could already see the headlines in the Boston newspapers. “Recently married couple disappears in Jamaica,” As he came closer, I saw what I thought was a cruel twist of his lips. I told Lois if there was trouble, run down to the car and call for help. As he came closer, he seemed less cruel looking. Was he smiling at our trepidation? And there was that machete which could sever me from my head with one swoosh! Now he was only a few feet away This was the moment! Then he walked by without a word, that amused smile still on his lips. Close call! We gathered ourselves together, walked on to Rose Hall, thanked the witch for sparing us, retreated to our car and drove on to the inn, where terrific services awaited us including two sumptuous meals on our patio every day, a pool, a sandy beach, and our every wish met, especially by the bass throated Mr. Brown, who led all his staff, but was there on the phone to take our order every morning for a hearty breakfast served on Irish linen on our patio overlooking a deep blue sea. All this for $28. a day? Yes. Now it would be more like $1.500. a day. A few miles down the coast is Oracabessa, famous for the unloading of the banana boats, where the scene at night is one of tumult and haze created by the sweat of limbs and the sweat of bananas. On to the capitol city of Kingston, where I was lucky to become friendly with Dudley Thompson, Esquire, the top defense lawyer in Jamaica, whose visage appeared almost daily in the Island newspaper, “The Daily Gleaner,” and was later the right hand of Jamaica’s premier, Michael Manley.

A greater threat to our well-being occurred a few years later when we lost our way hiking in Franconia Notch, near the now extinct “Old Man of the Mountains,” who must have been intent on vengeance because we had interloped upon his property. You’ve read a lot in those stories where hikers or skiers starting out too late, without a compass, warm clothes, and the necessities of venturing into the mountains, end often very unhappily. You will want to hear how we got out of this one.

Fortunately, that frightful experience did not destroy my love of nature which I describe at some length in this podcast. Somehow that leads Jordan and me into a discussion of Moses, me, and Charlton Heston, Jordan noting that unlike Moses I carry no staff, not even a cane, so distinguishing me, if indeed any is required, from a Prophet of the ages. Then to our approval and why of the latest remake of “West Side Story,” to how one likes their steak, medium or well done.

Jordan and I get around to all kinds of stuff. Listen and you shall share.

People, Always People!


Jordan Rich Speaks About His Encounter with Depression

Jordan and I turned the tables in this podcast. I asked the questions about his depression, and Jordan answered them. That turned out wonderfully, as you will hear. His experience was different than mine, especially his emphasis on time, both in real time, and in time imagined, his depression happening when he was younger, lasting longer, making him feel time was passing him by, and the concept of time finding its way into his inner imaginings. Indeed, we are different from one another. Perhaps that is marked by his lifelong love of poetry and acting. Listening, I realized even more how articulate, sentient, well-read, knowledgeable, and empathetic Jordan truly is. He shares insights with you and me I could not have, so the combination of the two of us gives the whole presentation ample scope. Lovable Jordan and edgy Larry, a nice duo, who get along great. I think you folks listening to this second one will have my reaction – a feeling of kinship with a very open, expressive, and dear man! I didn’t cry, but felt like it. I ended up feeling elation, and hope for us all in his words.

People, Always People.

Depression. The Disease Many Have but Few Talk About

The first part of the title above is demonstrated by myself and my terrific interlocutor on these podcasts, Jordan Rich. Both of us have suffered serious depressions, but both of us, having followed careers requiring expressiveness, I as an attorney and Jordan as a broadcaster, we are able to freely talk about our experiences with encountering this bane of mankind. Rather than tell you with specificity what you will hear on this podcast, as I sometimes do in these notes, I will speak objectively as a critic might in reviewing the podcast after hearing it a few months after it was recorded, as I just did. From that vantage point, it is about as good a picture as you are ever going to hear in plain words of how depression overtakes your life, changes your outlook and persona during its existence, and perhaps changes your life for good or bad after it departs. I would also say that two people who are good friends in the first place, and whose experiences with this disease were similar, are better situated than one to be informative about it because the interplay between them triggers memories and questions that might otherwise be omitted. I submit to you that this dynamic makes this pod fascinating from its beginning to its end a half hour later. I am proud of this podcast because I believe it will be helpful especially to those silent sufferers of depression. As Jordan keenly observed at its end, the subject is so broad that many points where left unsaid in the limited time available. At this writing we are planning another podcast to answer more questions, and share more experiences and insights about this horrific disease. With those remarks, I now invite you to listen to us on a subject that affects all of us in one way or another.

People, Always People.


One of the big ironies in our world is how self-esteem and narcissism are often confounded. One who has self-esteem, self confidence, chutzpah, whatever you want to call it, and backs that up with ability, talent, and accomplishment, is often mistakenly regarded as  narcissistic. Usually such a person has many friends, many of whom help him along the way, despite those many detractors whose animus is often the inability to see the true person, or, even worse, envy. The true narcissist has few if any friends because he thinks he has all the answers. There are true narccissists before us on the world stage every day these days as war rages in Ukraine. Another was our President until recently. Usually the true narcissist has little to back up his claims of superiority.

In this podcast you will meet  Conductor Benjamin Zander, a man who shows his self- esteem on his sleeve but has the goods to back it up as the impassioned leader  of two eminent symphony orchestras under one roof, the Boston Philharmonic and and the Boston Youth Philharmonic. Ben has literally thousands of loving friends through his music making, his caring for the personal and musical development of his yourthful disciples, the gratitude of the parents and family of those charges, and his energetic generosity of time to the welfare of those who come within his wide ambit. That is what I call “self-esteem and friendship.” It describes people who make a difference in this world. It provokes envy too among some of Ben’s fellow musicians and the public too, those folks, like me at an earlier time, who fail to see the difference between self-esteem and narcissism. Ben put it all down in his best-selling book, “The Art of Possibility,” written with his former wife, Rosamund Zander.

As this podcast went on my accomplished interlocutor, Jordan Rich, and I segued into talking about Matthew Aucoin, another celebrated musician barely past thirty who recently composed the opera, “Eurydice,” performed several times at the Metropolitan Opera in December, 2021, and who authored a book published that same month about opera, entitled “The Impossible Art,” which is destined to be a classic. Already Matthew is described as the Mozart of our time. A few years back I enjoyed a two hour conversation with Matthew which provided me with valuable insights for my current book, “Intimate Conversations, Face to Face With Matchless Musicians,” which also created a bond of lasting friendship between us. Listen and hear more about this remarkable young man who hails from among us in Massachusetts.

That led Jordan and me to talk about the interview vs. the conversation, the latter of much greater value, in which Jordan and I, as veteran conversationalists, seek to have the listener feel thay are listening over our shoulder to the actual conversation. Jordan rightly described those as “enriching and refreshing.”

The words Friendship, Inquisitiveness, and Maturation are in the title of my memoir. They are all exhibited in this podcast.

People, Always People