NOTE: This blog entry originally appeared in October 2009
By Andy Kubis, Producer
Charles Kuralt wrote in his autobiography that “working with a cameraman over a period of weeks or months is like having a love affair. You have to like him to begin with. And then you have to woo him to keep him from running off with some other reporter.” For more than 25 years, Kuralt successfully wooed Isadore (Izzy) Bleckman, about half of them while sharing a motor home, criss-crossing America documenting life on the back roads. The resulting vignettes became On the Road, a 20-year series now available on DVD for the first time. And on today’s show, Bleckman shares his own behind-the-scenes stories from his life on the road.
The stories Kuralt and Bleckman tell make you feel good. One of my favorites is about a son of a sharecropper in Arkansas who declared war on his own ignorance. He read 12 hours a day, mostly nonfiction. Descartes, Socrates and Shakespeare were his favorites. He told Kuralt that the more he learned, the more he realized how much he has left to learn. I feel like that every day.
Another of my favorites profiles an 80-year-old woman who had spent the last 15 years cooking meals for anyone who wanted to come by to eat them. She made some meals for shut-ins and the rest for anyone who showed up at her house. The cost was $2 and it was all on the honor system (she left a box on a table for people to make their own change). She tells Kuralt that the only thing she wanted in life was to “live in a house by the side of the road and be a friend to man.” And that seems to be the common thread in the stories. Kuralt often said that he and Bleckman and the rest of the On the Road crew had the very best job in journalism for a time. And Izzy Bleckman doesn’t disagree.
The On the Road series is available for purchase for the first time at www.acornonline.com. It’s also available at Amazon and other retailers.
(This week we’re revisiting some of our favorite interviews from 2009. Again, the listener comments from the original broadcast a couple of months ago are included below. Feel free to add to them, whether you heard this back in October or are meeting Izzy Bleckman for the first time today.)