Geographical diversity of our Champs

The comments I received in response to last week’s eNewsletter reflect the diversity of the our Champs

An invitation from Alaska

Champ Bobbi emailed, “Greetings from Alaska. I have been a recipient of your candid newsletter for some time, and thought, “Why not write you with the offer to you and your Champs for me to be a free guide on the Kenai Peninsula this summer! I have lived here for 11 years, formerly from Minnesota.

“I work fulltime, a divorcee of numerous years, age 64, with a bounce in my step and a zest for ‘showing off’ the Peninsula, as I truly enjoy the area, minus the higher cost of living.

“Summers on the Kenai Peninsula tend to be gorgeous with temps ranging from the 50’s up to 80’s, with low humidity. Each summer season being unique of course, with no guarantees as it can be with lots of sunny days intermixed with rain, or more rain than we’d prefer.

“The sayings here are: ‘Drive five miles and the weather might change,’ and, ‘wear clothing layers as in five minutes, the temperature might change.’

“From where I live, three hours south of Anchorage, there are gorgeous mountain views of Mt. Redoubt, Illiama and Spur.

Skagway, Alaska sign: Which way is Anchorage?

“It would be enjoyable meeting others visiting my area in Alaska, offering suggestions for sightseeing, even being included possibly for an excursion, offering encouragement as we go forward on our life journeys.

“Share my email address as spring has sprung, the snow is slowly melting, and the leaves will be budding in April.”

Bobbi’s email address:

  • Responses to last week’s “Senior Romance on the back of a Harley” newsletter

Nancy, North Carolina, “I too get quite a few responses from men online who proudly show off pics of their bike. I have stated in my profile ‘no bikers,’ perhaps I should change that to ‘no motorcycles,’ as many motorcycle riders, don’t consider themselves ‘bikers.’

“It’s not that I don’t have an open mind about them as a person, it’s just that I do not like motorcycles, will never ride on them, and find them dangerous. So, (with me) motorcycle people would never have someone to go on rides with. I try to keep an open mind, but there are a couple of things that I will not accept. One is smokers; the other is I will not ride on a motorcycle.”

Champ Terry and his wife, Daeng, Thailand, “Harley Davidson Company is moving their factory from the USA to Rayong, Thailand. That is only a few miles from where we are presently on holiday.

“There is a huge market for high-end motorbikes in this part of the world. Triumph moved here from England, also. They are doing very well.

“Presently, we are in the holy city of Pattaya, Thailand, on holiday. We are here for the sun, sand and food. Here is a song and video about Pattaya:

(Comment from Tom: I enjoyed watching the video about Pattaya)

  • On senior singles opening their minds to meeting a variety of people

Inez, Virgina, emailed, “Cast your net very wide–and find true love. In 1991, I left my office job to go back to school for a year of intense training in the operating room of a local hospital. Divorced for eight years and raising a ‘tween,’ my vision of the right man for me to meet, date and perhaps marry, was quite fixed on a white-collar professional type.

“I enjoyed a successful dating and social life, but no sparks. A friend fixed me up on a blind date with her former husband’s best friend, a country boy by birth, machinist by profession. I accepted the date as a favor to my friend and met this man on a Saturday night in April,1991.

“We were together for 19 wonderful years (married for 15) until his death in May of 2010. We had a glorious relationship, much to my surprise initially. He was loving, smart, funny, handsome and kind beyond anything my heart had ever experienced.

“So, take a chance!  I shudder when I remember how I tried to create a lame excuse to back out of that date. He gave me a life experience and a shared relationship that most women pray for!”

  • Our Champs Chris and Tina were featured in the March 22, New York Times article, “When Your Parents Remarry, Everyone Is Happy, Right?” which included, not one, but two photos of them.

Here is the link to the very interesting article:

  • Seeking input for next week’s eNewsletter: Single senior loneliness

I read an article in a major United States newspaper about how loneliness can increase the possibility of heart disease, stroke and can even accelerate Alzheimer’s Disease. It might be as bad on health as smoking.

The article mentioned that about 30 percent of people older than 65 live alone and by 85 that percentage exceeds 50 percent. The article stated that the Surgeon General of the United States is declaring loneliness a public health epidemic.

What is your opinion regarding this senior single loneliness issue for people in our age range and what can be about it?

Senior love on the back of a Harley

Senior Romance on the back of a Harley. Why not?

In a November, 2007, Finding Love after 50 newsletter, I included a quote from a woman who lived in San Luis Obispo, California. She emailed, “I have been on off and on for several years, but I am not attracting the type of person I want. Twenty-five percent of the responses are from bikers, so I must have something in my profile that attracts them.”

In the same newsletter, I responded to her: “You are likely attracting bikers because they like to drive there and would enjoy having someone to party with while ‘in town.’ For some reason, I picture those two buffoons in the movie Sideways, which was filmed near there.”

A Champ, (before you were called Champs) Patricia, was disappointed in my response to that woman: “I live in San Luis Obispo County (Paso Robles) and I actually live in the town where they filmed a lot of Sideways. Many ‘bikers’ live and work in the area and aren’t just passing through to party with someone.

“I was also on Match, Yahoo, eHarmony and other sites, had quite a few dates and a couple of short-term relationships over a five-year period.

“Two years ago, when I was 52, I read a profile of a man, 53, whose road name is Cowboy, that said: ‘Don’t let the biker thing scare you off. We are not a bad group; you might want to meet me before you make a judgment. A lot of us are real nice men.”

Turns out, Patricia had a first date with biker Cowboy for coffee. A couple of days later, they had a second date: “We went for a motorcycle ride down to Morro Bay on Saturday, he bought me two dozen roses on Sunday and we have been together ever since,” Patricia said. Now that is a nice way to begin senior dating in a relationship.

In 2009, when How 50 Couples Found Love after 50 was published, Patricia’s and Cowboy’s story was included (Chapter 12, Love on the Back of a Harley). At the end of each chapter, there is a brief Lessons Learned section. One of the lessons from their story was: “When searching for a mate later in life, expand your horizons, your reach, and, even your thinking. Open your mind to new adventures and new activities.”

This week, Patricia sent an update on their relationship: “My husband, ‘Cowboy,’ and I are still together after 12 years (married for over 10 years).

“Life is good and older singles should not give up on finding that someone special. My advice: Broaden your mind and consider the unexpected. I never expected to be some biker’s “Old Lady”, but I’ve never been happier and more in love.

“We both still work at a military installation and are starting to think about and plan our retirement together. We are taking a 10-day cruise to Alaska in September. This has been on my ‘bucket list’ for years so I’m very excited!

“Here are photos from when we first met, and from now, just for fun.

  Patricia and Cowboy – 2005

Patricia and Cowboy – 2017                                                                                           

As a coincidence, along the same line, Champ Stella recently emailed, “A good man is hard to find, and so, apparently is a good woman.​ The few gems out there are quickly snapped up. So, always cast your net into the waters for you never know when there will be fish.”

Older singles can improve their chances of meeting a potential mate by jettisoning old stereotypes and beliefs, which can mean being open to people of different religious beliefs, ethnicities, income levels and family situations.  I am in no way suggesting that people settle for less than they desire.

As Patricia discovered, if a nice biker man enters your life, give him a chance, you never know where you might end up, it could be on the back of a Harley holding two dozen roses.

Note from Tom: My book, “How 50 Couples Found Love after 50,” is about senior dating, senior romance and senior love of 58 couples. The book was to have 50 couples featured. But, just before it was printed, eight fun and wonderful senior love stories were sent to me. So, I included them as a bonus.

For seniors wondering how to meet a mate, this book has 58 suggestions.

The book is available on Amazon, in hard cover or ebook format: 

Link to How 50 Couples Found Love After 50

Tom Blake's "How 50 Couples Found Love After 50"
58 stories of senior dating and senior romance. How seniors over age 50 found love

Retirement: Dana Point Police Chief Russ Chilton retires.

Photo above: Tom Blake and Retired Police Chief Russ Chilton at Coffee Importers in Dana Point March 16, 2018

Tom Blake Picket Fence Media column for March 21 – 28, 2018

Retirement: Farewell to Dana Point Police Chief Russ Chilton and welcome to our new Dana Point Police Chief Lt. Margie Sheehan

I attended the Dana Point Civic Association’s coffee chat at the Coffee Importers in the harbor last Friday morning for a special reason. I wanted to say goodbye and thank you to our outgoing Chief of Police Services, Russ Chilton, who officially retired the day before, March 15, 2018.

For the first time that I can recall, Russ was not wearing a uniform, a badge or a sidearm. He was relaxed and dressed casually. His mission that day was to say a few farewell words to the estimated 60 or so people in attendance, and to introduce our new Dana Point Chief of Police Services, Lt. Margie Sheehan.

It was important for me to be there. Russ was in law enforcement for 33 years, the last 18 years of which he served the community of Dana Point. I’ve known him for almost nearly all those 18 years.

Often, Russ, and his fellow deputies, would stop in for a sandwich at Tutor and Spunky’s, the Dana Point deli I founded and operated for 25 years. My employees and I were always proud to have them there. I often wondered, how could police officers, who have one of the most difficult jobs in the world, be so considerate and pleasant? That was always how Chief Russ and his deputies carried themselves at the deli.

Four years ago, when I was pondering retirement and thinking of selling the deli, I chatted with Russ about it. He encouraged me to retire; he said, “Twenty-five years in food service is enough for any one. I know how hard it is; my wife Janice owned J.C. Beans Coffee House since 1993 and is now loving retirement.”

At the coffee chat, I talked to Russ before he spoke. I asked the silly question that people often ask someone who is retiring, “What are you going to do in retirement?”

With a smile, Russ said, “First, get reacquainted with my wife.”

After some kind words about the city of Dana Point, Russ introduced our new police chief, Lt. Sheehan. Russ said, “What pleases me most about Lt. Sheehan is we’ve found the right person for the job. She and I have worked together for two weeks in the transition and I am very impressed with her.”

And then, in typical Russ Chilton character, he added with a smile, “Before I hand over the microphone to Margie, I want to request that your questions for her be ‘softball’ questions. No ‘difficult’ questions. Remember, she has only been here two weeks.”

It didn’t take long for those in attendance to realize that Dana Point has the right person for the job. Before joining law enforcement, Lt. Sheehan served in the Marine Corps for four years. She’s personable, funny and tough. She mentioned that in Dana Point, of the 44 employees in the police department, 34 are deputies.

In speaking of her two weeks of working with Russ, she said, “I have never seen a more-loved person than Russ Chilton.”

She felt one of her biggest challenges will be dealing with the homeless issue. In answering questions, she demonstrated her impressive knowledge of all the challenges she faces.

At the end of the meeting, Russ said to the crowd, “So much for ‘softball’ questions. Wow, you fired a lot of ‘tough’ questions at our new police chief.”

She handled the questions just fine.

It was a nice send off for our newly retired Chief of Police, Russ Chilton, and a warm welcome for our incoming Chief of Police, Margie Sheehan.

Has senior dating changed in 17 years?

            Has senior dating changed in 17 years?

On March 10, 2018, a rainy Saturday morning in Dana Point, California, I decided to go through some old files in my office. I am trying to determine whether to pursue a writing project I’ve pondered for three years, since I sold Tutor and Spunky’s, my Dana Point deli, and retired. More than three years later, the deli is still operating nicely, under the direction of the owner Jim, and his brother Shaun. Four of my long-term employees are still there.

I kept rough notes during the 25 years of operating the deli, and I’ve considered writing a history of Tutor and Spunky’s, tied in with the events that happened in South Orange County, California, and things that happened to me personally, during that time frame. To organize my material, I put each year, 1988 to 2015, into a separate folder.

When I reviewed the 2000 folder, I came across a letter dated December 20 of that year. The letter isn’t deli-related; it’s senior dating and relationship related.

In 2000, I was a columnist for The Orange County Register, writing a column called “Single Again.” The letter I found was written by a widower named Lawrence. As I read it, I started thinking that things may not have changed much in senior dating in 17 years. I share Lawrence’s letter of December 20, 2000, with you today, in March, 2018.

Lawrence wrote: “Dear Mr. Blake: A few comments from a man. Thank you for your interesting column.

“I am 75-years-young, lost my wife just over a year ago after 49 years of a happy marriage. In your recent column, one lady you quoted complained that men are focused on their dead wives. Of course, we can be, after 49 years, she was my soulmate, sweetheart, friend, lover, and an earth angel. A kind, wonderful, compassionate soul whom I miss very much.

“She told me before she passed away not to mope and grieve over her (easier said than done). I was never one to go to doctors, but I went three times in seven months this year. Through grieving, I just kept getting sick.

“She also told me to find a nice, compatible lady and maybe remarry to enjoy my last years and to not feel guilty about it.

“In the past months, I’ve been to senior centers and met many ladies and have found, to my chagrin, alack and alas, all the ones I’ve been attracted to are married – it seems all the senior nice girls are happily married – that’s why they are so nice. The unattached ones seem to have chips on their shoulders, or other emotional problems.

“Widower dating isn’t easy.”

Widower dating cover

Link to Tom’s ebook: Widower Dating. Gold Mine or Mine Field?

“Talking with other men, I found the men complain that there are not too many good, unattached ladies out there, that they either smoke, drink, lie a lot, a few are on drugs, and I have come to the conclusion—after hearing a lot of horror stories—that the only way to go is to find (if I can and it’s not easy) a compatible lady who is in the same situation as me, who lost a good hubby after many years of a happy marriage, and is looking for a good reliable man.

“Are there any such ladies out there? I’m ready to get acquainted. The legal beagles strongly advise, in such situations, if homes are paid for, pre-marriage agreements are a must, to protect family and grandchildren, and if one partner demurs and says no—don’t walk away–run!

“Any comments?”

                                  Tom’s take

I wondered what happened to him. The letter listed his address and phone number. I entered that information online and the results indicated he was still at the same location, same phone number, and is now 92. I called the number.

A woman, who sounded to be much younger than 92, answered the phone. It could have been his daughter. I explained that I am a newspaper columnist in Orange County, that I had a letter he had written in 2000, and asked if Lawrence was still doing okay and if he had met a compatible woman. She said, “Lawrence never remarried. He’s hard of hearing. Do you want to talk to him?”

I could hear her in the background trying to explain to him that I was a newspaper columnist in Orange County. I could tell he was confused.

Lawrence got on the phone. He explained he couldn’t hear very well so I tried to talk loud and slowly. There was static on the line; perhaps, caused by his hearing aid. He asked if I could write him a letter instead, which I did. Mailed it last Saturday.

I will let you know if I hear anything back.

I’m curious. Do widowers, or widows, in 2018, feel the same way about single members of the opposite sex, as Lawrence did in 2000?

Update, March 31, 2018: I did not get a letter back from Lawrence, so I guess I will not know how things worked out for him.

Seniors living together and finances

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – March 9, 2018

Senior Cohabitation: Living together and finances

The two most recent columns—regarding Sally’s man-friend wanting to move in, and the 35 responses  by Champs to Sally’s situation–brought to light issues senior couples should consider when it comes to finances and living together.

Kathy emailed, “I’ve been remarried to my X-husband for three years. Concerning money: Having our money completely separated except for one household account that we both put money into each month has changed everything. We still buy things for each other but when I buy clothes or other non-essential items, I have no guilt and neither of us can blame the other for spending all the money.

“It has changed my life, I make at least twice as much as my husband and at the end of our marriage last time, he had me believing that I spent all the money, that he had nothing because of me and, I would never make it without him. I was very relieved to find that I had plenty of money to live on and share with others without any of his contribution.

“He found he could not make it on his income and had to start working again, which is good for both of us. Always learning.”

Lisa said, “I have been where Sally is now (a man-friend wanting to move-in), and made the foolish decision to have my younger lover move in.

“It was great for a while, but since the house wasn’t his and he wasn’t used to the additional responsibilities of maintenance, it caused friction in the relationship. There was, of course, more than that which let down the relationship.

“I just turned 70, am still working, and am a homeowner with a mortgage. I am planning to sell my Burbank (California) home and move to Arizona where I can buy something nice for cash with the equity I have built.

“I will hopefully find new friends and some sort of relationship there.”

Senior Cohabitation: So you want to move in with me here on my yacht? You’ll have to pay $83.00 a month rent. And, you’ll have to take out the trash and walk the dog.
(Photo by Tom taken in Istanbul in January, 2004)

Mary Lou, “My cousin allowed a financially insecure man into her life after her husband of 30 years died, leaving her very well off financially. This new man convinced her to marry him, ran through her money, and left her with a mountain of debt, which she is still dealing with.

“My cousin had her reasons for wanting to be married that were a bit unique: She was raising two of her grown daughter’s children alone, as her daughter was an addict and on the streets.

“The new man pretended to be a family man wanting to help raise the kids. There were red flags up the ying yang – my cousin’s sister even ran a check on the guy and his bankruptcies came up.

“My cousin’s reaction when her sister told her this? She still isn’t speaking to the sister all these years later, even though the warning was spot on.

“Today my cousin at the age of 72 has one of the grandkids still at home – the boy is 14 and my cousin is a fabulous mom to him. But she is broke, living in a small apartment, and still having to work.

“And the guy she married? They divorced when my cousin’s money ran out, and the guy is living back east and married to another financially well-off woman.

“I am so skeptical of a guy less financially well off who is the one wanting to move in with the financially secure woman. Of course, he does! He’ll have it made. I predict if he moves in, the next thing that will happen is he will get ‘sick’ or have a ‘disability,’ stop working, collect Social Security disability, and she will be stuck with him.

“She has nothing to gain financially by him moving in, and he has everything to gain. I vote NO!”

Gordon, “Sally seemed to be very concerned about financial stability and SHE SHOULD!  At her age, financials are more important than ever. She says she has more than he has; if he moved in with her, it would be a windfall for him in that he no longer has a housing cost.”

Tom’s thoughts: Not discounting what has been stated above, let me say that not all live-together relationships have to be financial disasters. In fact, living together can be financially beneficial to both parties.

When couples share expenses, such as groceries, utilities, and other household expenses, including rent or mortgage payments, in a way that is agreed upon ahead of time and fair to both, the financial benefits can be significant. Please note, I am not advocating mixing finances, just sharing expenses.

Let’s say, by sharing, each person benefits by $600 per month or $7,200 a year. And they stay together for 10 years. That would benefit each by $72,000. That amount could be helpful in the retirement years. Or, what if they are together for 20 years, the amount could reach $144,000 each. Of course, if the monthly savings is greater than $600, the numbers will be even larger.

I don’t think the primary motivation for moving-in together should be financial benefit. But if the other important reasons are already present, such as loving each other, and wanting to be together every day, then the financial pluses are the frosting on the cake.

Again, I strongly advocate both people keeping their finances separate. They can do that and still share expenses and chores. Senior cohabitation has its challenges, but when done carefully, it can work.

More on senior cohabitation, finances and moving-in together. A March 10, 2018, response from a reader:

Allen: “I read your response to Sally regarding letting her 56-year-old male friend move in with her, I’m assuming that it was his suggestion to move in to her paid for house.
She mentioned that he had also lived with one or more other women. Sally is a well-educated retired school teacher, what level of education does her male friend have, does he own a home or has he always rented?

“Sally also mentioned that her friend has two sisters and an 86-year-old mother, I would venture to say that he is probably a ‘mommy’s boy’ and that he wants women to take care of him.

“I’m 83, a married male of 49 years with one grown son. I’m nine years older than my wife, which is normal; it is not normal for a male 56 to be dating a woman age 69, he wants what she has worked hard for. I know this guy, not this particular individual, but I know his type.

“Sally, my advise is to RUN, don’t Walk away from this guy, because if you don’t I’m afraid that you are setting your self up for a lot of heart ache. Check out his credit history, how much does he earn, does he have a retirement that equals your teacher’s retirement, does he owe money on credit cards?

“Sally, I don’t know you but I’ve seen other women hurt by his type, so do yourself a favor and find someone else, he’s out there.”

Tom Blake <>

7:27 AM (35 minutes ago)

to Allen

Thank you for writing. I will pass your advice on to her. You make some very valid points. Just curious, do you reside in South Orange County?
Interesting also that you know this type of guy. Also good point about his credit history and credit card balances.
Again, thank you Allen.