I listen to about a dozen different podcasts, mostly about politics and history. Two of those podcasts recently had Norman Lear as their guest, and those interviews were a vivid reminder that people who have been alive for a really long time have lived through a whole lot of history.
Most of you will remember Lear for writing and producing a string of successful TV sitcoms. Political and cultural changes led him to create Archie Bunker and All In The Family in the 1970s. I am torn about wanting to watch this show again now, fearing it will be too eerily similar to our current culture. I prefer to believe that we have made progress.
But let’s go back to the beginning. Lear was born in 1922, which makes him 95 years old. His father went to prison for three years when Lear was nine years old. In one of the podcasts, Lear referred to his father as a “rascal”.
After the December 7 attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Lear dropped out of college and enlisted at age 20 in the U.S. Army Air Forces. Based in Italy, he was a radio operator/gunner on a B-17 bomber. He flew on 52 missions and dropped bombs 35 times from 1942-1945. Lear and Roscoe Brown, one of the Tuskegee Airmen, were honored at the Veteran Day parade in New York in 2015.
After World War II and before he began earning his living solely from his writing and television work, he held several jobs. As a glimpse into history, I thought it was fascinating that he held jobs selling furniture door-to-door and selling family photos door-to-door. Life before the internet.
And then there is his personal life. Lear first married in 1943, and has been married three times. He has six children, five daughters and one son. What really caught my attention was this his oldest child was born in 1947, so is 70 years old, and his youngest twins were born in 1994 (via surrogate), so are 22 or 23. I would imagine this would keep you young!
The thing is, Lear isn’t just sitting around getting older. He has a website at www.normanlear.com. He has a Facebook page. He has an active Twitter account at @TheNormanLear. His Twitter timeline is full of history and will also let you know about upcoming interviews so that you can hear stories directly from him. Another way to hear his stories, and the stories of others, is to check out his podcast, All of the Above. Oh yeah, and he wrote a book.
This is a reminder that most of us can use periodically. Everybody has a story and most people like to share them. Find someone who has lived longer than you and let them tell you their story. Go learn some history.