Terry Lynch's teenage children groan when they visit a historical site while traveling with their dad. A recent visit to the St. Louis arch resulted in yet another "Oh no, not again," from the two teens as their dad waxed eloquent on the history they were lucky enough to experience. Even worse, at times their history-obsessed dad walks around in Ben Franklin's tri-cornered hat or talks like Teddy Roosevelt.
Lynch, an Orland Park dad who is a historical portrayer, spends his time appearing as such famous figures as George Washington, Teddy Roosevelt and Andrew Jackson. An improv actor who wanted a job better suited to family life, Lynch started performing for school groups nine years ago and has never looked back.
"As an actor I was working late at night," he says. "This lets me schedule around family and be there for important family things."
And in spite of the groans of protest, Lynch's whole family is part of his business: Histories for Kids Inc. His wife, Laura, is an educator who helps research the historical figures and creates study guides and lesson plans for the schools they visit. His son helps with videotaping and his daughter is the illustrator for their most recent book, Nicholas Comes to America, the story of St. Nick and how he became Santa Claus.
And he has realized that performing, especially for kids, isn't much different from his improv days. "If I don't get them at the beginning of the show, I've lost them," he says. "They're so honest, they're very blunt, so you've gotta be on your toes with stuff."
Liz DeCarlo is the senior editor at Chicago Parent.
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