Responses to Don’t let the old man in

Tom Blake columnist

 On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter – June 26, 2020

by Columnist Tom Blake

                            Responses to Don’t let the old man in

Last Friday morning, Greta asked, “How was the response from Champs to the ‘Don’t Let The Old Man In’ eNewsletter today?” 

I said, “It’s too early to know.”

I am never certain how an eNewsletter is going to be received. There are times when I feel that the message is helpful and Champs will like it—and yet, only a few responses trickle in. And there are times when I say to myself, “This isn’t my best effort,” and the responses are positive and plentiful. 

Last week’s issue was no different; I didn’t know how Champs would respond to the Toby Keith and Clint Eastwood “Don’t let the old man in” story. However, that uncertainty quickly evaporated as positive responses filled my inbox. Champs liked it! Here are several responses, plus my comments to each one.

Wayne emailed, “Good advice. My brother played golf with Toby Keith at Clint’s tournament when this exchange took place.

Tom’s comment: “Wow, small world. What a day that must have been for your brother.”

Barbara, “Thank you for posting that video. It got me out of a slight slump. I saw the movie ‘The Mule’ and love anything Clint Eastwood does. 

“I also wanted to tell you I read your 84 Days Through Europe in a VW bus Summer 1960 travel ebook; it brought back many memories for me about that summer. I turned 20 in July 1960, and got married in August and came to California for our honeymoon.

“Two years later, we drove across the country and moved to California for good. I’ve been a widow for 25 years and learned to live alone. I enjoy your weekly eNewsletter.”

Tom’s comment: “Good to hear you got out of the slump. It’s easy to slip into a slump during these trying times. And I’m pleased you enjoyed the “84 Days” book—you and I were the same age that summer (and, of course, we still are, now 60-years later).”

Marilou, “Thank you!”

Tom’s comment: “Greta and I enjoyed meeting you and your friend Pat on that Iceland, Greenland and Scotland 22-day cruise last August. We are thankful that we got the trip in before COVID-19 surfaced. We won’t do another cruise for a while, but not saying ‘never.’”

 Marilou, Tom, Pat, and Greta on the cruise – August 2019

Thyrza, “A timely reminder especially during this time. This pandemic makes us feel old since life as we knew it is curtailed.

“I went for lunch at the Cheesecake Factory with my two grandchildren and son and daughter. It felt so good and right to be out.  

“My guy friend and I drove along Pacific Coast Highway to Laguna Beach. I was teary-eyed to see throngs of people enjoying the beauty of nature and freedom. I can’t believe a virus can take away our freedom, just like that. So yes, keep the old person out!”

Tom’s comment: “Good on you, for getting out and about. (Just continue to do it safely).”

Ben, “I totally agree with Clint Eastwood; Get up each morning with gratitude-get out of yourself and help others. KEEP MOVING, and get out of the house. I walked 3-4 miles today, found out the gym was open- went over there and did the Stair Climber- I have a long way to go…One day at a time…Walk, pick up recycling- share the $$ with charity. Make a difference in your own way.” 

Tom’s comment: “Ben, you are doing great. Admirable! Love your spirit; love your attitude.”

Gloria, “I’m still weeping – It’s so emotional for me as a healthy, spunky 81-year-young women and a crybaby letting ‘it’ out so it doesn’t sink ‘in.’ Love all your messages. I’d like a nice ‘older man’ at my door.”

Tom’s comment:  Maybe we can find one to be at your door.

Gloria (part 2): “I can dream, can’t I? I’m a singer and can also sing YOU’RE A SWEETHEART to you. I met you at a conference in another life. Not sure which conference. Had to be Florida. Followed you ever since. So I’ll put in my order for the front-door man: fun, healthy and into all kinds of music – especially Broadway. I’m lucky; I’m plucky (a poet too). I so appreciate your response. Not holding my breath for that knock on my door.”

Tom’s comment: “That conference might have been an AARP Convention on the East Coast. I have been a speaker at them on occasion.”

Mary Lou (not the same Marilou as above), “I didn’t get a political ad when I clicked on the link – instead, funny enough, it was an advertisement about the bar exam – which you may remember I am a tutor for.

“I forwarded the link to my 80-year-old brother who never lets the old man in, and my 76-year-old favorite-boy-cousin (I always tell him that and he says he’s my only boy-cousin – lol. Not true, he’s my only boy-cousin on my dad’s side, but I have eight boy-cousins on my mom’s side.)

“Here’s to not letting the old man and/or the old woman in.”

Tom’s comment: “That’s funny about the tutoring ad. What are the chances of that coincidence happening? Might be cookies YouTube uses to track people’s interests.”

Joy, “Loved it! That was so heartwarming! Thank you for all you and Greta do for us kids!”

Tom: “Kids? Oh my gosh, Joy. You made our day.” 

Gail, “Yes, keeping the old lady out is always a struggle! Although, I keep parts, like being honest with people. Stay strong.

“I am still living in Bishop (California, eastern slope of the Sierra Mountains). We are getting swamped by out-of-towners- some who are real jerks not wearing masks. Granddaughter Emma just turned 15.”

Tom’s comment: “Greta and I met with Gail and Emma seven-years ago. We had breakfast together in Bishop at Jack’s, a great coffee shop right on Highway 395. Can’t believe the lovely Emma is 15.”

Tom, Gail, and Greta with Emma in front – 2013

Update: I wonder if Gail felt that powerful 5.8 magnitude earthquake in the Owens Valley Wednesday? That was close to Bishop.

Terry, aka, the funny plumber (Thailand), 80ish, said: “Don’t Let the Old Man in” is great. I was talking with a girl at the market yesterday.  She said: ‘I want to get married.’” 

I asked: “How old are you?”

She replied: “27.”

My response: “Well, you are too old for me.”

“Love from the ‘Golden Triangle’ (Thailand, Laos, Myanmar).”

Tom’s comment: “Terry was only joking, of course. He has the lovely Daeng as his partner. She’s more than ‘young enough’ for him!”

(Terry, part 2), “We are happy that no COVID-19 virus has been in our area.  Folks in this area still wear masks and try to be careful. Thailand ranks second-best in the world out of 184 countries for ongoing COVID-19 recovery.

Thailand ranked second best in the world for ongoing COVID-19 recovery – TAT Newsroom

Kathy, “Just had to write and let you know how much I enjoyed the article about Clint Eastwood and don’t let the old man in. I think that was one of your best advice columns ever. Whether it applies to dating or just to everyday attitude, it is spot on!

“I am having knee surgery on Wednesday and had a COVID-19  test yesterday so I have to self-isolate until the surgery on Wednesday. However, just the thought of being able to walk better makes it all worthwhile.”

Note from Tom: “Kathy used to live in our Dana Point neighborhood. Now she lives 3,000 miles away in Florida. We hope her surgery went well.”

Andree, “Thank you for sharing Clint Eastwood’s movie, and Toby’s song. I saw the movie and loved it. I’ve enjoyed Eastwood and his movies for many years. And I loved Toby Keith and his voice for years, and, have his CDs. 

The “Don’t Let The Old Man In,” is so true and I try to remember what to do each morning I wake up. At 71, I know life is short and I have to stay positive, have a good attitude, and love life one day at a time.”

Tom’s comment: “At 71, Andree, you have many, many years ahead of you. You’re a young one. Keep doing as you’re doing!”

Mark,” This was great. I hadn’t heard about it.”

Tom’s comment: “Two years ago, Greta and I had the honor to locate and photograph Mark’s parents’ gravestones in American Samoa. It meant a lot to us, and it meant a lot to him. Having met several of you Champs in person makes writing about life after 50 even more special for Greta and me.  

Tom at Mark’s parents graves in American Samoa – 2018

, “I had seen the previews for ‘The Mule’ before it was released but the subject matter didn’t look terribly intriguing, although I do like Clint Eastwood.  I do agree with the advice ‘Don’t let the old man (or woman) in.’ 

“So based on your recommendation (and Greta’s), we watched the movie. It was very good. All kinds of lessons are there–food for thought.  Ray, (her sig. other) plays guitar and he decided to learn how to play the song, “Don’t let the Old Man In” and share it with his guitar group.  Of course, with the pandemic, the weekly guitar group meet-up he has attended for several years hasn’t met since March. 

“Some of them have met on Zoom weekly, but it just isn’t the same. It’s impossible to play together–they just talk.  A couple of weeks ago the leader of the group invited a small group over to his house to play in the driveway (sitting on chairs..) socially distanced. That worked out pretty well. 

“Then he had another idea.  We have a new multi-level parking deck attached to our new library.  Why not bring chairs and meet to play in the garage?  Five of them met Tuesday night. They took playing together to a whole new level.. Again they practiced social distancing. They were outside so no masks were needed.  Ray hasn’t shared the song yet, but he will.  

“So thanks for the recommendation!  Stay well and thanks for writing your weekly column.  Ray and I have been together for 11 years now and lived together for 10. We’re both 70 but are valiantly trying not to let the “old man” or “old woman” in.

“We live in North Carolina now. We went out for a year in college in Colorado (1967) but married others. Three years after my husband died from ALS in 2006 I looked Ray up on  LinkedIn and we reconnected. I think you wrote a column about us in 2010.”

What happened to Champ Nancy?

I received an email from Mail Chimp–the server I use to deliver the eNewsletters–that revealed Champ Nancy had unsubscribed. I knew she had been a Champ for more than four years and opened nearly every eNewsletter. Hence, I thought it was strange she would unsubscribe, when, the other responses were so positive. So, I sent her an email just to ensure she hadn’t canceled accidentally.

Nancy replied, “I love your weekly newsletter and would never on purpose unsubscribe. I loved the Toby Keith video. I sent it to a dear friend who is 90. I think I re-subscribed from my phone again, but if I didn’t do it right, I am sorry.”

I checked. Nancy had pushed the right buttons, and she’s with us once again, after an absence of only a few hours.

If any of you find you aren’t receiving the eNewsletter, you may have accidentally removed yourself. Resubmit on the home page of

Email me if you have any questions.

Author: Tom Blake

Tom Blake is a newspaper columnist in south Orange County, California. He has published five books. His primary topic is finding love after 50 and beyond, sometimes far beyond, for people 80 and older as well. He also blogs about travel at

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