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And that recording now one must not get one's knickers in a twist and turn, these are the stories your granny never told the people loved by everybody. I was raising the country's until I slipped up on some spilled onions on the road and my motorbike. Hi, guys, it's Nikki, your host for the stories your granny never told podcast coming back at you this month for a brand new episode. Stories Your Granny Never Told is a monthly podcast where I interview older folks about their unexpected life stories.
And this month is no different. This month, I get to talk to Lynn Ruth Miller, who's an 86 year old comedian, and she's frickin hilarious. I mean, we talked for so long and we went on a few tangents and I think we got to about when she was 35 years old and we went way over time. So I had to ask her a bunch of questions at the end. But it's still really great and I think you still get the whole picture.
I will, however, put a little warning we do for something like half of the episode, talk in depth about eating disorders. So if that's something that you don't want to hear about, maybe just skip this one. Just a little notification at the top here. I'm running a giveaway for the brand new merch that I have, which is all the quotes.
The advice quotes from the grandmas and grandpas of the previous episodes go head over to stories your granny never told on Instagram. And you can find that post and comment and like and follow and share with all your friends. And you can get a chance to win a cool mask or something or t shirt. Anyways, without any further ado, here is the interview with Lindros Miller. Can we start out with your name, what you would like me to call you and your age?
OK, I'm Leonard Miller and I'd like you to call me then Ruth and I am eighty six. Almost eighty seven. I'll be eighty seven in for three months. OK, congratulations. Not even two months.
All right. And so you are a comedian.
I'm a I'm more than that. I'm a comedian. I'm a performer. I'm a storyteller. I'm a cabaret performer. I do burlesque and also write my book. Just my book was just posted on Amazon today. Yeah.
You have a. Oh, really? Congratulations. You have multiple books.
You have multiple. But this is the memoir. Oh wow. Oh I have to read it. I'm excited. Well of you, if you like comedy, it tells pretty much how I formulate a set. It really is.
And in the end, the advertising that we never put that in there. But I've got a whole chapter where I tell you just exactly how what what gets a laugh, whether what to do when it doesn't. I analyze a whole set for you. It's one little chapter and you have a lot of experience in that.
I well, I started when I was 70. I didn't start. It's not like comedy. Yeah.
How how did things start out? Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Toledo, Ohio. And I majored in education. I have a great I have a great deal of education, and I was just talking to my wonderful friend from Florida to me, and she's made a beautiful economic success of herself. She's very wealthy. I am not. And she said I don't see the point of a lot of education. I don't think it teaches you anything. And I thought, my God, I've been to six universities.
I have three advanced degrees. What kind of. And I'm trying to get a Ph.D.. That's the next door really right now, honey, all that money I wasted because, well, she has a lot more street smarts than I do. And I'm sure you do that because I enjoy a lot more sex than I am as well.
But I'm sure you go through all this education because you enjoy it. I actually just got my Ph.D. like three months ago, so it was in biology and biology. That's interesting. I want to do it, actually. I'd like to do it on some form of theater. It's about ageism. I believe that we get our concept of what age is like from what we see in the media. Oh, absolutely. And I want to destroy that.
That's one of the reasons I'm doing this podcast, is because, like in the street, if you see a little old granny, like, hunched over with her cane, you think like, oh, she's innocent. And then you don't realize that that's a person and she has great stories and she probably punch a Nazi in the face back in the day. And you would have never known if you didn't do it today as well. Yeah, I hope so.
I cannot stand the people being patronising to me. And I and I see it all the time. I know it's a reflex in a group. And I will I'll give an opinion and everyone will smile and totally ignore it.
Mm hmm. So on top of being a woman, being an older woman is just double's it.
I'm sure it's been an absolute hell, but I never realized how much of it was due to ageism and sexism, because what you do, and this is for most of us in the profession is you think, well, I guess I'm just not good enough.
Yeah. You internalize it and turn it into sort of an imposter syndrome when it's actually a societal problem, huh? Oh, yeah.
Being a woman in science, it happens a lot.
In science, you would know that everything in gerontology is spent and how to get them well and prevent sickness. That has what it should be. It should be and how to give them options for a full life. If when I turn 65, all I did is take the pension that I got and go out and play and do golf and that's that's waiting to die. I don't want to do that. I got all the plan that I needed when I was five and six.
I want purpose for living and I have very purpose for women.
So when you when you were younger, so you grew up in the States and then you decided to pursue a bunch of stuff.
I was 80. OK, OK. So you've lived almost your whole life in the States. Right. And you you want to a bunch of universities or is it just because you enjoyed learning in general or you couldn't decide what you wanted to do?
It was, you know, what I wanted to do. Ah, you have to think about the mindset once that this is the 30s where women, women never expected to work for the rest of their lives, they were supported by your husband. So the first 20 years was looking for a husband and not finding one. And then no. So I. So when I got a degree, one of people always say, do you regret anything? And I would say, no.
But there is one thing I regret. I regret that my mindset would not permit me to major in what I loved, which at that time would have been creative writing. Mm hmm. I was a writer. I've been a writer since I was 10. Oh, well, yeah, that would have changed really the whole life. But you had to earn a living and you had what you thought of that. This is in the late forties, used to get an interim job, not for life till you married and then you probably work for a couple years to accumulate money while he was establishing himself.
So you'll figure, what do you train for? They only going to do for about five years. And so I trained to be an elementary school teacher. I didn't train for that. I trained to be a kindergarten teacher. But I got my job as an elementary school, which is another mistake. But I. I understand why I made that one.
Yeah, that's an interesting prospect to see. Like, OK, you're going to have a job for five years, so just pick something and then whatever. It doesn't matter.
And I happen to love children. I wanted children and I and I have been doing daycare since I was 14. So this was a natural for me. I want to do kindergarten, not grade school, but as the story of my work, you should get my book. Yeah, it's got that in there. But I have the job when I graduated. I seem to have a knack for graduating when when the profession I'm trying to graduate in. His beloved died, they didn't want kindergarten teachers, which is what I wanted to do.
I never, ever wanted to teach a subject ever. But I had to support myself. Yeah, I didn't have a husband and I didn't have a relationship when I graduated from Michigan. And even then, when the sort of women workforce was happening in America because the men were like off to war, they didn't sort of think about future careers for women.
No, they couldn't wait to get out of the factories and back into the home, OK? It was a shame because a lot more could have happened to them. And then you probably don't remember any of this. There was a woman named Veronica Lake who was very popular, who wore her hair draped over warm high. And all the women of America wanted to be beautiful, like Veronica Lake. So they left her her role. And when they worked in the factories, they got caught in the machinery.
So Veronica Lake did a wonderful thing for the war effort. I still remember to cut her hair. Yeah. And we had Rosie the Riveter. Yes. At the end. But that was when I was a child. But so there was no interruption that did not change my sense that I wanted to I wanted to get married and have children. That was what little girls wanted. And I wanted it. And I did not have a happy childhood.
I had a miserable childhood. But however, I did not have a monetarily I was not monetarily deprived. My father was wealthy in that sense, I was privileged, but I had a very, very turbulent childhood and I was determined to do it better. Of course, when I do it better and I was very progressive. People don't know about the University of Michigan, but they're learning now because Sasha, who was Obama's kid, is the University of Michigan.
So now they know it's an amazingly great school, but nobody knew about it. I went to undergraduate there and at Michigan was very, very avant garde and very, very progressive. But even and I was very progressive. I mean, I wanted to live on a farm where my children would have instead of a swing, we have a tire that they would you know, we would make our own we grow our own food and we'd make we bake together and we'd make our own entertainment.
And I know I would have sounds great if I would have gotten otherwise, I would have killed myself. But that was what I didn't realize, that I am a product of a decadent age.
So all of that's what I wanted and I wanted when I would talk about what I wanted with my life, you could almost hear the violins playing and. Thank God I didn't get it. I've always said that not one single dream that I had came true and it was the best thing that ever happened to me.
That's a really good way of looking at things.
And it's really true. It's really true. I have I have the most beautiful life right now. That's great.
So after you went to become a teacher, what happened after that? I found a husband.
OK, so you always wanted to do it and you finally found. I actually found you. I found a husband we married. He went to Harvard Business School. I helped pay the tuition I taught, but that's what we did, OK. Educated. He was also I went to undergraduate University of Michigan. I knew him from Michigan. OK, and then we moved back to Toledo, Ohio, which I still can't. Get through my head. I know what I know, which is something that would be very foreign to you.
We did it because he wanted to. You have to understand that you belong to your husband. Yeah, I do. He wanted to when he was from New York is beyond me, but he did. And we got to Toledo, Ohio, and I think there three months and then he left. And I also had a very severe eating disorder. I had anorexia and bulimia. So if he hadn't left, I'd be dead. But I'm not where I am.
And so that's why I'm directing that. Thank God it didn't come to YMCA.
And then I started a TV show on CBS.
How did you get into that? I think the people don't realize that if you really want to do something, you can, OK, so you just you just did it.
That's pretty much what happened to you. You you. I have no background. I have no training. I have no idea. I didn't know what I don't know what a camera was, but I had graduated from Michigan, a very idealistic teacher. I mean, I remember one of the books was called New Ways of Discipline. You know, when I was young, they used to smack you, but I knew Ways was reflecting.
I don't know whether, you know, the Rogers technique, uh, that's maybe like the patient, what the patient says you were what would throw a wet washcloth at another kid. You would say, oh, Ronald, you didn't mean to do that, did you? And Ronald would say, yes, I certainly did. I know if you want to kill them, but you reflect. You reflect that. Yes, you certainly did. Yes. I think you just reflect what they say.
It's a rather there's new ways of discipline. I remember that I what I remember most about it as we were studying new ways of discipline. And at the beginning of the course, there was a woman there that was pregnant and for them and all the way through, she was getting bigger and bigger. And at our last day, which was our exam, she wasn't there because she was giving birth unlucky. And I don't know what she did with the kid, but I know she didn't hit him because when he learned, she learned the whole court.
Well, it's reflective. She reflected its feelings when it was born. Yeah, that's what happened. So I was very idealistic about everything I had seen. Oh, and then by the time I started Romper Room, I had a master's degree in education because after my first divorce, I was at a loss. And whenever I'm at a loss, I go to the school.
So I that's a pretty good way of coping with that. It's wonderful. Yeah. And it's really the best way because you don't have time to feel sorry for yourself. They just got to work. You have and it's worth I mean, you've got things you got to do. So I have a master's degree in Creative Arts for Children. And I saw Romper Room, which is a big program at that time, and it violated every thing I have learned in school.
So I had just started in Toledo was WTOL TV and I was on my lunch hour because I was working for my father. I was a secretary at that time and I walked by the brand new station that I thought, you know, I'm going to tell them how lousy that show. I cannot believe I did this. I said, no, I'm going to tell them it's really a piece of crap and they should know about it. Destroying the minds of our children in Toledo, Ohio.
But I walked in and I mean, he was busy organizing the station. It was like the first week. And and I just walked in and the girl at the front desk said, well, do you have an appointment? I said, no, no, I just would like to talk to the manager and they worked, it would never work. Now, no. Yeah, that's why this thing was open. So I just walked in and I said hi.
And this guy is in the midst of trying to balance a budget for a TV station. And TV was brand new, but not brand new, but pretty neat, though I would have been around I know had been around because I was in grade school. We had a TV, so but this was our own station in Toledo and it was CBS. So I said all I just saw Romper Room, so now he's interested. It's one of his program.
So how'd you like it? I said, Oh, I said, it's a piece of trash. And now he's mad because in the first place, I interrupted him and I wasn't very nice. So he said, well, if you say he's just talking, well, if you think you can do better, you can do it. And I said, I bet I can. And I got the program. So is it OK if you can find us?
And then he was working on budgeting and they do public service programs where you have to get people to do programs for nothing. OK, so we said to me, if you can get a sponsor, I'll give you a program. OK, and I said, OK. And I got this. How did you do that? Did you just say, you see, I called the Toledo Art Museum, you have to realize what a big deal CBS was to Toledo, Ohio.
Yeah, I can imagine the Toledo Art Museum. And I knew the principal of the school, the art school.
How would you like to be on CBS? And as I was trying to get to research. Oh, my God. Yes. And that was he didn't ask me what the program was going to be done. And so I called up this guy and I said, well, I've got a sponsor. And he said, who? Thinking it was going to be Joe Schwartz at the shoe shop. And I said, well, actually the real reason, which is a huge thing me to do.
Yeah, I got a really big deal in Toledo the day I presume to do that.
It's all we've got to be at and CBS and CBS and. And so that's a hell of a big sponsor. Yeah, so he said, OK. And it gave me a director and I remember the director but I do not remember his name. How does that work, do you just then write a show and the director makes it happen? No, what happened? It was a pretty rocky road because I have never written a TV show. I didn't know I had a I was talking about.
But my idea was with absolutely no background in this at all. My idea was to do creative dramatics. In other words, read a story to the children I was going to have live. Children on the air and I would get to my class and then I was going to read them a story and then they were going to act it out. OK, I have never done creative dramatics, and by the way, there's an art and anyone that's listening.
Don't you do it unless you read up on it because I messed it up something terrible. But anyway, I thought, well, I'll do it and act it out. And of course, it didn't happen that way. Right. Right. It was a disaster. But anyway, I and then that was the first half, the first 15 minutes and it was half an hour and then the second fifteen minutes we did an art project related to the art museum is sponsoring is an art project related to the story.
OK, and it was it was a pretty lousy program, but it went on for two years.
Was it better than before? Was better than Romper Room. There you go. The progress, progress. If you could do it for two years, that's like I mean, who can just say that they walked into CBS and got a show and made a show for two years. That's pretty nuts.
You'd be amazed when I look back of the things that I've done, but they're just are impossible. And I'm not particularly a miracle worker and I don't have the Jewish watersports for I don't have a lot of guts. I don't I'm charismatic, though. Wow. But not bad. I don't know.
Sometimes that's all you need to to get something. I just rolling when I believe something, I just believe it's so completely. And I was appalled at this ramble. Yes. I have just spent a year learning that everything they were doing was counterproductive for children. Yeah, it was patronising. It was talking down to them. It was it was not elevating. Their minds were enriching them.
So at least your contribution, you helped out with that instead of demeaning them. I don't know what happened after I left. I think they just stopped it because then I married again. That's what happened. I married and and I left town. And he was gay. That's an interesting story because it was nineteen fifty nine and I don't know how good you are with your history, but 1989 it was illegal to be gay, right?
I mean, yeah, that was extremely you were either imprisoned or sent to a hospital. OK, so did you know when you got married? No, no, I was the cover. I was the guy with the beard, I was the beard, but I guess but and he was very masculine seeming.
Sure. I mean, if it's illegal, you'd have to.
I mean, I lived in San Francisco and I know gay man very well. And very few of them are macho, very few at least if I knew more neutral.
But if your life depends on it or you're not being sent to prison, depends on it. It could be because they're more neutral. They're not this frou gypsy business that people think they're just normal human beings. Yeah, this guy was there was something very, very testosterone about him. Mm hmm. But it sure didn't didn't help me here anyway. So we were married for three months because he found out he couldn't covid and he sent me home. So I became a librarian.
OK, that's another one where I had absolutely no background and my job changed nothing. But I loved books and I didn't want to go back to teaching. So I called the Toledo Public Library again and I said, I really have a master's degree in creative arts for children. And I need a job so you can be a children's librarian, so that's all right and you enjoy that?
No, I love the ball. No, no, I was I was schlepping books. I was talking about all you do is show books and working. And then we have the Dewey Decimal System and do the cards. And I mean, there was hardly I did get to do storytelling. I got to tell stories, but I worked for a lady whose name was Bunny Bunny. She was a nice lady. But Jesus, what a name Bunny. Anyway, no, I didn't like it.
And then I became a children's librarian in Bloomington, Indiana, OK. And. I actually like that one, but then they ran out of money and I lost the job and I came back, I'm trying to think what happened down on the hours were nine to nine, seven days a week. No, my friend called me up and said, let's meet for lunch. And I looked at my camera and said, I don't have any lunch hours available for the night ever.
And so I applied to Stanford University and I decided I didn't want to do I didn't want to teach. I knew that, but I always wanted to write. But by this time with two husbands under my belt, I was pretty sure I was going to have to support myself. Yeah. And by the way, this is more dramatic than what it sounds like. I was I was educated woman, but I decided, well, I better I can't just major in creative writing, which is what I should have done in the first place all the way back.
I can't just do that. I have to do. But how can I make my writing pay?
Yeah, because it is hard when you start out to to make a living from writing.
That's kind of a new novel that's writing. So I majored in journalism, but remember the timing, it was nineteen sixty.
So television was beginning to take over the written, so there weren't that many jobs in newspapers.
So anyway, I graduated from Stanford with honors. I graduated all congrats. And I also graduated in 10 months earlier than they said I was I and so I was terrified. I was terrified. I had to support myself. I didn't have any money or any money from the first marriage.
And so you sped through it so that you could make a living. That's right. I had. And I paid for my education. Yeah, I was terrified. I was absolutely terrified. I don't think I've ever worked so hard as I worked those fourteen months with Stampfer. Well, I knew which, by the way, isn't true. I knew that everything depended on my getting a really good job when I got out. And of course I didn't get what I want.
It happened well because they didn't hire 30 year old women and they especially didn't put them in. I had too many degrees.
Oh, you're overqualified.
That's right. Because what they would have hired me for is to be a gofer. You know what that is? Just not bringing everybody pens and pencils and coffee. But they couldn't they couldn't do that because I have a double masters degree. Yeah, you bet. I had. I worked with honors. I was on top of class and all of three universities.
So all of that work and stress and then you're too qualified.
And it defeated me. It was. And I was a woman. They were sure I was going to get pregnant, which is interesting since I'm the last one was gay one and I wasn't your show. Just get pregnant and. So frustrating, I was 30, I got the degree the year after Kennedy was assassinated, so it was a really gorgeous experience because I was studying journalism about Kennedy was being assassinated.
Yeah, that must have really got it was so impacted that and I have like a specific memory about about that event.
I remember I watch I didn't watch it because I don't have television. They talk about blood on the suit, but the Jackie Kennedy will. But I listen to the whole thing. I'm a classical music station. Oh, wow. So but at that time, so most of my reporting classes were centering on political reporting and truth and reporting, which right now I've actually done a blog about it. Right now it's huge. But the problem because everybody says used and I have an instructor whose name was Dr.
William Rivers, who, by the way, which would interest you is he was the first successful kidney transplant. In America, wow, that is just for goodness. Anyway, he he was talking about selective perception and I've seen it when I edited this book that I have now, so I've been through it. I sent it in and it was originally supposed to be published on December 19th, so I sat them and had an editor and thought I got rid of all the mistakes that they withdrew.
I don't have a lot of good luck. They withdrew two days before publication, sort of. So he sent me a text and the idea was I would publish, which I now have. OK, that was six months ago. It was December 19. So I imagine it's not a word when I but the point was it shouldn't have been that things should have been ready. But it's perception when I read it through that second time out to God, I've got a chapter in the wrong place for competition.
I missed it all. And then because I had this boy helping me who insisted that I read it the second time, I said, no, no, I got it all out. It's fine. There was a huge swaths of it that had to be moved because you you read it and you think you're concentrating, but you're not seeing the bigger picture anyway. So Doctorow was talking about selective perception and he interviewed Nixon. And you know what Richard Nixon was?
Yes, there was Watergate, Watergate. And he said, I taped the conversation, he said, but I knew what the guy was going to say. Yeah. Yeah.
I mean, he everyone asked him the same questions and he has prepared for it. So he wrote up the article.
And then and then he thought, you know, I really ought to listen just to be sure. Gotten it all.
Well, yeah. I guess if you go in there and you're expecting something, then that's what you're going to hear.
That's right. And back to is very so this business with fake news, it is fake news. It's ugly. You're just in your own echo chamber. And so they think, oh, they're like, no, they're not. Do you know Robert Burns or what? The gift, the gift to give us to see ourselves as others see us. He's a public guy. Yeah. It's we don't see ourselves. It took me years to realize that I am an extremely flawed human being, as are we all.
And there comes a time of I think it's happened to me when I was about sixty, where I said to myself, well, this is the package and you're going to deal with it. You have a funny conception of what is right and wrong. You have you get angry at crazy things. If I see somebody hitting a child, I want to kill him for that kid. Could have just knifed his dog or something. I don't care. I have I have a logical sense of justice.
I mean, that's a normal reaction. That's because you aren't a mother. I think that's pretty logical. You're a mother. You will understand.
Yeah, well, yeah, yeah, I, I'm not a mother either. But I mean, I have a very, very warped sense of justice, but it's also very intense. The George Floyd thing, absolutely all me just I mean, to the point of almost throwing up saying that because for me it's seeing it again. Yeah, it's like nothing has changed. It's not just that. It's that someone saying, oh, look at this, that happened.
That's not even unusual. It was happening every day all over the Internet, every day. And I guess I told you, I have an inflated sense of justice. I get so angry every single day. I think it's just black people. And people said, no, it's worse for black people. When it happens to you, it's just as bad whether you're black aging. A policeman will see an old an old woman driving. And they've got to have they have a quota for tickets in California.
I'll pick her up because they know that when she goes in front of a judge to say, I didn't do it, the judge will think she doesn't know what she's talking about. It's it's but you see, one of the best things I have a very liberal friend, I absolutely adore him and he is so liberal. I mean, he's so far to the left, he's off the toilet. But he says we talked about this dismantling the police department and what he said made such sense.
And instead of making one guy with a gun in his pocket go out on the handle of domestic abuse, robbery in the corner shop, traffic violations, kids throwing out of the window. One guy have different departments. Exactly.
Trained mental health control. Countervailing traffic can be their own thing. Yeah, it's a whole different thing.
And that made eminent sense to me. Absolutely.
I agree with that. And maybe don't give the police tanks like maybe just the suggestion.
Oh, yes. And what this goes with it being being just a regular. A regular. Yeah.
It's to lean on someone else.
And I happen I happen because I lived in California for 30 years and I happen to absolutely despise the police. To me, there are a bunch of young men who who are mad at their mothers.
I mean, the culture is really to a lot of them. I mean, obviously they are always different people, but a lot of them is like you're a big macho and that's right.
But what's happened is we've made them that way. And the less we responsibility for it, absolutely.
It's a societal problem. And I remember this one lovely kid was in the police department and he was so appalled by the attitudes they instill in them that he quit. Yeah. And he said, I can't do it. I just can't do it. And I thought, oh, good for you. But what courage that anyway, I think we've diverted.
Yeah, I went on a tangent question.
It's OK. It's OK. Where were we at.
I guess I couldn't get a job. I'm going to move to San Francisco and I'm going to look for a job there. And so then I did what I tried for public relations, which I would have been lousy. I didn't know I was there for six months. And then I thought, well, the center of the communication because remember how what when I'm not getting across to you is how terribly frightened I was.
Yeah. Because you were worried about not being able to support yourself, and I had no one.
People think, OK, you got a mother and a father, you got a sister, she's got a partner. Nothing. My parents were done with the dog because you were, like, so radical in their eyes.
That's a very. Yes. And, you know, the nutty one by my sister. So I was getting no. Yeah. Kotov, if I would have asked. Yeah, but and eventually I did. But you get 30 years or two divorces. I'd already taken advantage and I didn't like them taking advantage of them enough. It was so distasteful to me. So I was terrified and I was also running out of money. So I took the money and left and I moved from San Francisco after six months to New York and I lived right next door to the United Nations building.
Oh, very nice. Big apartment building. And it was affordable at that time because I don't know how else I did it. And I tried to find a job and I and afternoons I used to go to afternoon matinees trying to find a job. Very nice. Yeah, because you could afford the afternoon matinees. Remember this was nineteen sixty four and the sixty four beginning of sixty five. And I couldn't find a job and I, and I applied to everything and everywhere.
And finally I had a nervous breakdown and I did what I didn't want to do. I called my father and I said I'm, I can't live. And he came and collected me and he brought me home and he said, well, you can't stay in the house, which by the way, I didn't want to anyway. And I had no money. I cannot figure when I tell the story what the hell I was doing, because by that time, the alimony that the gay guy was paying me stop, he paid me one hundred and twenty five dollars a month for two years.
So it had stopped because 14 months of abstinence, Stanford, six months in San Francisco. I was probably getting the tail end of it in New York. OK, so my father was a millionaire and I have nothing. And I trying to think how I ever that much more resourceful than I think. Yeah, I tried immediately. I think I spent maybe a night in my parents home for charity housing and I got it because I had nothing. Yeah, I got it immediately.
But I want to tell you, I've never had a flat as lovely as that. Or really, first of all, and do not think the charity housing is a bunch of slobs or crap all over everything. This was an immaculate building. I lived across the hall from a guy named Ernie with emphysema. And I still smoked, I have the best neighbors in the world I had now let me do the garden outside the window and then while I was there and you have to understand the emotional situation there, I invested everything in this job that was going to make me famous.
And then if it didn't pan out, it certainly didn't. And I mean, and that was not without trying. Yeah. And you tried really hard, but you also have to realize what your self-image is by that time. Yeah.
Well, you probably think I can't do anything right because no one wants to hire me. It's so sad that we we associate working a job to ourself.
And I like to talk about that a lot, too.
Why do we think we have to work capitalism, which I hate. Right. You've got to read Adrian Rich. OK, Adrienne Rich poetry. It's lesbian poetry and it doesn't turn me on. But although after what I've been through, something should. But it doesn't matter anyway. Her essays will grab you and up. And capitalism is how my father made his money. Mm hmm. And I thought, oh, I never realized I'm sitting there working for and especially me, because I was I always work for below below minimum wage.
So I'm working minimum minimum wage killing myself. So some guy can be sitting in his penthouse with his 50 mistresses and she saw both ends of the spectrum since your family was never.
I mean, look how old I was when I realized that I was eighty eighty six. I was 80 was this year. I was eighty six when I figured this out. How could I have lived through all this. I've been a victim of it and never realized it. So, so I was out of the job and I started looking. I had so I decided OK, with all these degrees I must be able to change.
Yeah. So you didn't want to teach. Yeah. But you have to realize what my self-image was, what you really get because you don't think it's the society that's rejecting, you know, it's you, you're not good enough. Yeah.
If you get enough rejections it's hard to think you're great if no one wants to hire you. I mean, so many people have been there, even if it's just for six months looking for a job. And I'm sure right now so many people out of a job, just out of an unfortunate situation.
I say applying for jobs is like standing nude on the auction block. It was yeah, we didn't have computers.
You had to go to them and hear them say, no, we don't want you. Yeah. You had to pay postage to send your résumé in here. That was hurt to buy those stamps to speak.
They're going to say, no, it was it was so it was an error. But anyway, so I went to Toledo University, which is Dinko University, but I got my second master's there, my master's in education. I figured, well, I've got a master's from Stanford University. These professors couldn't even get into Stanford University. And I know I'm right. They couldn't have they were so stupid. I thought, oh, but you don't have a PhD.
So I said, no, I guess I got a subtext here, no woman. Yeah, well, you know, I'm paying a lot more. Where am I supposed to get the money to get up?
And then when you're going to have a Ph.D., they're going to say, oh, but you're overqualified. So overqualified. Yeah. So as is and that is what I walked out of the university and I still remember that was a beautiful little was very pretty it really, except in the industrial part, really pretty manicured lawns, lots of gorgeous foliage. It's gorgeous. And as I walked down this beautiful garden to the community and technical college and I thought, you know, I'd better go to the bathroom before I go drive home.
So I stopped to go to the bathroom. And this woman who still is in touch with me, whose name is Susan Bannister, and she was this very prim. Very. I'm Jewish and this is very non Jewish, blond curls, horn rimmed harlequin glass. Yeah, very thin, little pursed lips, little dress. Yeah, she was wearing a dress. Of course, she was little teeny perky nose. My nose was out there. No, she looks up at me.
I'm just coming out of the ladies room and don't ask why. Something about me must have said something to Susan. She said to me, So why are you here? Thought, Well that is the dumbest, but you have to go to the toilet.
Now, what do you mean why am I here? She said, no, that isn't what I mean. Why are you in this building? And I said, well, because I'm this reminds me of the CBS story. Yeah. So I said, I'm looking I'm looking for a teaching job. And she said, we always need jurors. Come back. There you go. I got the job that afternoon. Oh, man. Dean and the dean.
You can't see me because I'm sitting down. I'm four foot ten, OK? I'm very little. And then I was five foot two. Well, this little man comes out who is five foot two, and he said to me, and I didn't get what he meant, he's married to have to go back to his wife or something. So I said, oh, do you have children? He said, no, but we try every night.
And then he chuckled and I said. Nice. OK. I had no idea what that they would say to me. Oh, that's good. I might have said something like, what a shame. You still haven't got one, you know? No, I feel good. I need to know how innocent I am when I started comedy. Oh, I never know. I'm listening to other people talking about comedy. They're talking about blowjobs. I'm. I'm telling you, I'm thinking that's that's baloney.
That's good. That's amazing.
And I mean, people just not understand how innocent because I'm good at telling jokes, how innocent I still am. And I remember when I first started comedy, this little girl, her name was Sandy. She used to come and sit next to me and tell me what the words meant by the way I ever saw that it at.
And she said, yeah, you're missing the next joke anyway. So where were we? So you have a master's degree from Stanford University. My God, you said. But we can't. And I've heard this before. We can't hire you full time and part time. I work for them for. For years, part time, full time, full time work. Yeah, paid part time, been there, no benefits, no nothing.
Which of course, later that's what happened because it didn't come for anything was worked out. Mm hmm. So. I think it was the fourth year. They still haven't hired me, but Ohio passed a law that you cannot pay anyone with that many advanced degrees. Well, the way they have to have a certain. That's right. And you have to pay them their back salary. And are you ready for this? You hate me. But Dean called me up and he said he said, if we give you the money, we owe you.
You'll bankrupt the system, so another English teacher will not be able to support his children. Guess what I said? OK, now that's what I do. I mean, I never got the phrase, yeah, I never got the raise. I worked for them. Then they transferred me to full time. I was on my full time for, I think, a year. And then in the meantime, I'm still fighting this eating disorder. I'm so busy at Stata, not that I'm fighting society at all, but I'm still fighting and I had a pretty much under control.
But by yourself or did you go to therapy? Well. Girls of those days will go to a psychiatrist, unless they were absolutely was a very or a more widespread eating disorders at the time because of body image.
Nobody knew what it was. Right.
I guess it wasn't really diagnosed when I was. I had it during the first marriage. I went to a doctor and I have anorexia and bulimia. And I think I said to him something like, I have just written seven hamburgers for chickens and six, for example. I think something's wrong with. And he looked at me and said, you have to understand the anorexia was more prominent than the believe me. But I want to make sure he's like, huh, looking.
I wonder where when he said to me, Are you shitting Eliza? No, constipated all the time is anorexics are. By the way, I was shocked when I read to you always say you're the only one. Anorexics are always constipated. I don't know why, but we always are. So I told him about the cycle and he said the name for what you got. And I said, yeah, crazy is he said, No, I'll never forget this.
I'll never forget this nickname. He said to me, it's called anorexia nervosa. He said, I want you to go out now and I want you to get a hamburger. And French fries. And I am telling you, nothing will happen. So he thinks that you were just making it up. And I was too afraid to do it, but anyway, so now we're back to I just finally started working full time University of Toledo. I need to tell you, I don't want any tears for me.
I loved college teaching. I love to. I taught. Writing, I taught English literature, which I mean, I read it every book in my public library before I was 10, I got a special I got a special special permission to go down to the main library I've been reading since I was two to two. I've been reading the reason I've been reading since I was two is that my mother could not stand changing my diaper. And she literally said to me when I was about six months old, I'm not doing this anymore.
Sit there until you crack. And I did. But she put me there with a book and then you're in it. Thanks, Mom.
By two. Thanks, Mom. I could read you guys never had any problem with reading the other while everybody else was having problems.
But I wish you would have done it with an apple or something because I can't add words like can I read as I read every so often. So by that time I was thirty six. And I fully believe and by the way, this is a Ben Rhodes diagnosis, doctors have disagreed with me. They've said no, but I believe that what I did is the thought of being crazy was so abhorrent to me that I internalized the anorexia, because what happened is I stopped digesting and then I was turned down for 10 years now because I've got I protected voters.
So, of course, point. I was reading my head again in a profession I didn't want to be in, I still wanted to write, I was still standing out, I was still sending out resumes, nothing.
So during this whole time, I was trying to get to know I've got this dream, I've got to do it.
And and and just so much failure, no relationship, no trying to meet anyone and. I'm so sorry, men, men, I know this is a gross generalization, but the men that were interested in me were either so fucking stupid or straight or else they they were. Quiroz. Yeah, if they were smart, because really smart men that have been that have been rejected by gross.
So I'm not going to comment, but I know what you're talking about. I'm sure it's true. That piece of advice that I'm getting, I'm getting the hint of an answer. But oh, and I thought know because I know people and I think it's good. Do not equate sex with love. We yeah. Not necessary. That's good, that's fine, don't change, that's good. Yes, be sure to use protection, but everyone wear protection.
We never saw a condom until I started singing about it. Never used them.
Well, yeah, because until, like, the AIDS pandemic, it wasn't your thing.
Right. And I did not do recreational sex. I just simply did not do it. You don't. What is it? We're walking. We're the walking wounded. The women from the fifties. The women from the 40s and 50s are the walking wounded. What does that mean? We belong to our husbands, we. I want to tell you this, I because I because this is I have such a different take on this that it's almost impossible to believe it's the same woman.
When I was married, I said of Tommy cheats on me. By the way, I don't believe in marriage. I wonder why. I wonder how he treats me.
It's it's my fault. Uh huh. How do you like that one?
But that's what they taught you to think you can cheat on someone. I do not believe in locking yourself into a marriage. I do not believe that. That women are responsible for good sex, that's. So I do not believe any of that, that I believe them.
Yeah, well, I mean, if if you grew up and every day told you, you know, you have to take care of your husband and if you do it wrong, he's going to leave you then. That's right. What do.
It's not just that, honey. It's that everybody that we're my friends were doing that. Yeah. They married them and they shot up and took it because that's what you're supposed to do. So I believe and this is Oliver's diagnosis.
And I want to tell you, the finest doctors in the country know that I am men have a history of not believing women sicknesses. So I'm going to guess that's another thing.
Yeah. Oh, we can get into that with men so angry about that.
But anyway, medicating menopause, which is the most natural thing, even ovarian cancer is, is extremely like mistreated.
Yes. Oh God, it's awful. Anyway, so with this I stopped digesting food and that was food went right through me, which solved the constipation problem.
I was well, I mean, I could be standing there doing dishes and I looked over your load on the floor. It just went right through me. I stopped digesting food. They could never find out why. They could not find out why. I just the thing that makes sense to me, because I obviously have a very strong mind, is that I internalize the anorexia because I refuse to allow myself to not eat. I weighed my food. It almost killed me because you have to realize that when I weighed one pound, I thought I was fat.
But I'm eight ounces. That's a hell of a lot of protein at a meal, at dinner, not a large. Thank God. I think I ate something normal for lunch. Dinner. I would weigh the amount of meat eating red meat, which I wouldn't touch right now, whatever. I mean, we change, we change a lot. But I would not allow myself to have the anorexia that my body wanted because my body wanted to die.
Yeah. And so I believe that I internalized but I became a patient at the National Institutes of Health. And you need to look it up to realize how absolutely unusual this is. OK, because of the anorexia, because of all this, I have osteoporosis. Yeah. That's usually when I started having these bowel problems, which is sort of funny stories gave me a they gave me a medication which was supposed to stop the peristalsis in my well, I would just love it.
And and remember how it was doing.
I would eat fine appetite, but it's really right to me and I would not even feel like, you know, crazy.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's totally not normal obviously.
So I'm sitting on the couch and I'm calling the doctor. I've just taken loads of. It's not working. Yeah. I said it always works but yeah.
I don't care what you say. It's not working class. I did. And somebody get a joke about that later is a worthy cause because it's in a hotel and he calls the chef and he says that meal was terrible here, that I did that.
But I, I will let him do this because we're just talking.
And then so I had osteoporosis. So they thought that was the cause, which doesn't make any sense at all. That's one on one made seventy three. It just turns your bones are disintegrating. That's why you are digesting foods, vice versa.
Your bones are disintegrating because you're not getting enough nutrients. I mean that might be so was so they, they were doing a pioneer study on calcium infusions. It was Frederic Baader and I'm reading an article. It's another one of these crazy stories. I'm reading an article in Time magazine. I'm waiting for the x rays. And I probably was sitting on the can while I was doing it was just pouring out of me, as I recall. It was in the waiting room.
But I knowing my history, it probably was anyway. So I never read Time magazine, my news, what my news magazine does, Newsweek and I'm reading Time magazine. And it's just doctor friend Carter is doing a study on young women. I was thirty six young women who have osteoporosis. I mean, I did it at CBS. I came home and wrote a letter. Yeah, no idea. You have to go through what you know, so, you know, you can't just get in there.
No. Yeah, so much I did.
So I really must have had, like, it terribly sad. But in medical terms, an exceptional case.
Yeah, well, no, he couldn't find young women that knew they had osteoporosis. Well, they weren't doing bone scans though. Yeah, I know. And it's so hidden. So I wrote him and I said they just took an X-ray of my bones and told me they didn't see anything. Mm hmm.
And I said, I don't want to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair. And I remember saying that. So, yeah, very truly yours. That's how we got it. I got an answer by return mail. He said, have your doctor send the X-rays.
Well, what does that mean by return mail? Like, really quick? Well, next day. Wow. OK, he got it. Washington, D.C.. I got the letter. He wrote the letter immediately. I got it straight back. OK, and evidentally badge of honor to get a patient in NIH. Yeah, I didn't know this. I called them up and I said, listen, would you mind sending my sending my X-rays to this doctor?
And he said, of course I did.
And one week later I was accepted and I found out they would. You know what a metabolic diet is? Um, got to tell you what that is. Go ahead and explain it. It's your you eat the same thing. They weigh it from going in and coming out. OK, for six weeks I've done that to sheep.
They did it to me.
OK, and so I turned out OK. I have to be there for six weeks and I was teaching and you heard how precarious my position was. Yeah. And I think I had just begun and full time. Oh so. I said, I can't do it. That was in November and then. And that was the next month the dean called me and said, you were refused tenure. So I wrote Dr. Broder and said I couldn't. There was no way I could teach anymore my better.
I never missed a day of teaching. We had the Christmas break is what happened. That was I went to class every day and spent most of the time in the ladies room as I write your essay. Do you know it was really a dedication? Yeah, that's what I wrote. But I never missed a day of school. And he anyway, so the dean called me, the dean said to me, you've got to come and protest because it's illegal for the committee, for your own evils in the English department to vote against me.
And I said, listen, I can't get off the train up long enough to go. And that was when I wrote Dr. Broder. And I said, if you have room for me, I'll come. And I was there in January. I was supposed to be out middle of February and I left in April. They couldn't find anything wrong with me. Wow. I think I was on the sixth floor. But I had a wonderful time while I was there.
Well, at least there's that the nurse, her name was Arlene and she said, if you leave here, you're going to die because your bones are so weak, they're not going to be able to support your. Vital areas. And so I went home and waited to die, my gun wasn't right away. I didn't. Instead, I had I still can't believe what the relapse was, but for some reason, it was a relapse that was even worse than what was right.
And I went back again for another two months. Wow. And then that was when it happened. And then my mother, who never believed I was really sick, you had to see what I looked like.
Yeah. I mean, that's just denial at that point. Me pulling my craziness again. Crazy Lambrew, I mean. I weighed fifty five pounds, just bones, and and it was all blows to what was retaining water. So she called me and she said, you know, you've been gone, it's been seven months. And No one it's down like. And I went I drove, I was driving Fords and. I drove. I don't know how to explain it, because you're living in New York.
Where she lived was a suburb of Toledo, and where I live was and by that time I was in a trailer for one of our IS, but I am proud of our trash.
So it was a good 40 miles to get to her place. I drove there and I did her garden and then I go back and I didn't realize how weak I really was. Yeah. So I pulled up behind a cement mixer and I, I didn't step hard enough on the brake and I coasted into it. And in those days it was 1969. Somewhere in there, cars are made of tin. Yeah. That just like crumpled.
I just coasted into the cement mixer. It jolted my head, hit the steering wheel, and I thought, thank God it's over. And, well, you listen to what it was. I mean, really, thank God it was over.
I mean, if you're that sick, I can imagine. Oh, I'm sorry. Had an affair with my head resting steering wheel thinking I'm dead.
I'm. And the cement mixer pulled away didn't even know it was there. Yeah, and I'm waiting and I'm thinking, you know. Jeff. You shouldn't be that controversial. Yeah, why am I still thinking about the place? Wait a second.
I mean, what's exactly that?
So I took the arm that I didn't think would still be there. And I opened up the door and I got this is really true. This is not a joke. People think it's a joke. This opened up the door and I thought I would fall out. Mm hmm. I got out of the car and I looked at the front of the car. It was a valiant. So it wasn't a Ford, it was a volume, OK? And it was it was smashed.
Yeah. And I had a bloody nose. That's it. So I said, you know, and I really said this. I said, you may not be much, but you're better than anything. She won't give up. You're better than anything General Motors can buy.
There you go. OK, but yeah, sorry, we we we pulled it out too long. But I wanted to get to the comedian part.
So what happened when I was 70 and you're only up to thirty six. Damn. What happened is I got a job, I got a dog and I walked myself back to help. OK, help. And it took me nine years. Well, well I'm glad I got a job.
Oklahoma City. And that's it. And then. And then I just ended up being a comedian. I wanted to write a story when I was 70. I still haven't gotten that job.
Wow. But you wrote when did you write your first book? Oh, I did all that. My 60s. OK, so yeah. So when I was 60, I started writing my I started writing novels. That was going to be the new career. Yeah. I wrote 11 of them. 11. My God. Never forgot any of what was one. I think when you listen to the story, you realize how really desperate was. I just never could do anything.
Well, you were unlucky. Well, I don't know whether we like it or not, but I sure was trying anyway, lots of good things happen in between, but I was determined to get that job at The New York Times, didn't know what it was missing, and I was going to get that job. And so when I was 70 and by that time, I had my two television programs on Public Access TV and I had what were those programs?
One was paint with limb. I haven't told you that story, but we'll never get done if I tell you that story. I'm also an artist. OK, what happened when when I got the job teaching our appreciation, I became an artist so I could understand how to teach art. So can you see all those paintings? Yeah, I. Yeah. So one must paint with limb, which was a hands on very much like little playhouse. It was children doing art, but it was also know the children would eat the art supplies.
That kid has a crayon up his nose and it was awful. And and the other one was a book review program. Of course it was called Are You Ready for This? What's between the cover NYes?
That's why I asked a friend of mine a couple of months ago. We said, what was the name of your program? I said, what's happened to the papers? He said, Menopausal women.
I never thought of that.
So. So you had and shows. But it was. Yes, I had that for 13 years. Wow. I wrote a column. I know you say you're always searching for this job, but you you had a lot of success. I didn't consider any that you didn't consider it success to yourself, it was the tiding over till I got that job could be. What was your column about?
Let's talk about walking the dog. Over a million dogs, by that time I was a volunteer and it was humor columns, OK? And then I got one book published called Starving Hearts, and I thought it was a failure because I'd sent it to every publisher in the United States and in Britain under three titles. Now, the theory being, they never read the thing. And again, so again. So I sent it three times to every single publisher.
OK, but eventually it did get picked up. And I found a man who was a vanity publisher and he said I said to him, if you've got a good novel because I love them. So if you have a good novel, how do you get published? He said, you have to know someone was a vanity publisher, but he published mine. There you go. And and then we got already the publisher. You one out of every 60 days you want wanted me to sign a contract for 10 years where he had all the rights and I said no, dead.
By the time I'm 78, I'm eighty six. So I refused. And he was really lovely. He said, well, OK.
And at that time I was working for a bookstore for just to be able to take the books home for, you know, money.
And she was working for a printer and I didn't know the difference in printing and publishing. And she printed one hundred copies of the books. And they sold out immediately and, oh, my God, I use that money to publish a properly starving arts.
You can. So you published it yourself. Yeah, it's beautiful that people starving. You should if you're interested in manorexia, if that's what it's about.
Oh, OK. That hence the title I, I will put a link in the show notes or put a link in for getting the last laugh.
That's the new book. OK. Getting the last laugh, but underlying getting because there's another one out there, there's an illegal one.
Oh, when the people said they wouldn't publish, they still publish Sons of Bitches, these things. So you had this comedy column and then you turn to actual standup?
No, remember, I'm still trying to get the job right. I'm 17 by this time, OK? And I was looking I was promoting the books at the end because I also have two thoughts who are walking the dog books, OK? While I was promoting books, I. I think you're doing like a tour. I would do to her book tours at the end of the book tour. I would tell jokes. I'm really good at telling jokes.
And you found out when you are 70, this one. I'm sixty eight. Sixty nine. I'm going to tell a joke. So they would invite me back to tell more jokes. Nobody ever bought the book. I mostly for anyone that's listening, sold my books on Amazon. OK, I'm a relatively small amount of face to face or bookstores.
Yeah, it's the new thing now anyway. But it wasn't a new thing. Right. Right, right, right. It's about I've sold seven thousand I think. And when I got there. Come on. That's a success. Well I'm still one of the still wasn't getting the job I wanted. So anyway so when they asked me to come back to tell jokes, I was running out of jokes. I was surfing the net because by that time you could e-mail and I saw those things of San Francisco Comedy College.
That's a law school that is a rip off.
You can't teach someone to be funny. Right now, you're Jewish, you're black, you're funny. You're not funny. Yeah, it's a rip off and I am going to expose them. And in San Francisco, big deal. I'm going to expose them and I'm going to get into The New York Times because this is a ripple you don't have. People were doing they were doing these things where they would say, I tried to live on one dollar amount, which is what they gave the wealthier people, and I ended up losing all my teeth.
And two know.
Right. You did that, Khubani. I'm going to do so. I wrote that time we had message machines. You left a message. So I called the number on the answering machines of a number and I said I would like to write a story about you for two magazines into newspapers. They weren't The New York Times, but that's what I was waiting for at that time. And I said, I got a call back and he said, I just love small Jewish women.
OK. Hello, it's me.
I'm your girl, and I took your class and I think we've got I am now because I've got to call Sharon or she'll have a heart to heart attack. OK, but that was the beginning. And so after that, you just went into stand up and then had success, but by that, no, it wasn't a success and nobody wanted to hire me because you're older, you do it for nothing. Ageism. So then I did. I did.
I started my own. And if you read the book, that tells you that's what the book is about.
OK, I'm sorry that we went over time because I have like five hundred more questions like how how has it been performing and do you enjoy it and are you happy with it.
I love performing. It's Michael. And you said you also do burlesque. Yes, I started that when I was 72. Amazing. How does that how is the feedback from that?
I get standing ovations every time.
I bet I found what I love to do. Yeah, but I finally found I'm not a big name. I mean, I'm not a big. Well, I found you. So read the book and you'll know what happened.
OK, is that my my last question I usually ask people is what is your advice for my generation? Quiberon. Yeah, that seems to be the the threat. Stop complaining. There is no such thing as failure. There is no such thing as failure. Everything you do is a stepping stone to what you're going to be. And yeah, don't listen to people that don't listen to the Karyn's of the world, don't listen to people to tell you that what you're doing is wrong or bad and listen, because you know what you need to do.
You know what's right for you. Have faith in yourself. So I don't think that age makes you wise or not wise. I don't have I don't know anything about your experience I've experienced. That I am, yeah, it's been a pleasure. I've had a great time, has been a great conversation. Oh, I loved it. So I hope that I get I don't know whether I'm a granny doing granny stuff because I'm not I just want unusual life stories.
So I feel like we definitely got that. Not that anyone's life story is usual anyways, but. That's right. I've really enjoyed the voyage.
Oh, man. Listen, Ruth is so funny. I had to ask a billion questions at the end, but I think this longer episode was totally worth it. If you want to see some pictures of what Lynne Ruth looked like so that you can sort of have an image in your head while you're listening, there are pictures and details and links to her books and her websites and everything in the show notes of this episode and on the show notes part of my website at stories you granny never told Dotcom.
Also, you should totally give Lynn Ruth a follow on Instagram because she makes these little clips of just little jokes she tells, and she does them with a total deadpan face and they always make me laugh a lot. We are also on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at stories your granny never told. Please like and subscribe. And also I would super duper really appreciate it if you could leave a review on iTunes because it really helps the podcast go up in the charts.
Otherwise, you know, just keep keep staying strong or whatever and, you know, listen to Lindros advice and wear a condom. That's OK. Come on. Bye. See you next month.