Joe L Brown

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter – July 24, 2020

By Tom Blake

                                 A widow and widower love story

In November 1990, Joe, age 72, lived in Dana Point, California. He had been a widower for 13 months. He missed his lifelong mate and married partner of 45 years.

Joe believed he would remain single the rest of his life. No one—he was convinced—could fill the emptiness he felt. As a favor, he would escort women friends to functions, but had no interest in becoming involved.

Years before, while living in Pittsburgh, PA, Joe and his wife had been inseparable friends with three other couples. Now, all that remained of that group in Pittsburgh were three widows. Joe kept in touch with them, sharing each other’s pain, loneliness, and memories.

For Thanksgiving 1990, a friend invited Joe to Coronado, a city across the Bay from San Diego. He was seated next to a woman named Paulita. Coincidentally, they both had attended Beverly Hills High School but did not know each other because Joe was two years older.

Joe and Paulita talked for hours. Joe said, “I knew I had been shot through the heart with a love-arrow but was disappointed to learn that Paulita was leaving for Mexico in two days for the winter.”

That night, Joe confided to a friend: “I’ve fallen in love, but she’s leaving in two days.”

The friend insisted, “Call her first thing tomorrow, tell her you want to see her before she goes.”

The next morning, Joe and Paulita made a date for that night. When Joe picked her up at her San Diego home, he said, “There’s something I’m going to tell you.”

“What is it?” Paulita said.

“I’ll tell you during dinner,” Joe replied.

The restaurant was a few miles away in La Jolla. In the car, Paulita kept asking, “What is it?”

“I’ll tell you at dinner,” Joe repeated, determined to wait until they were seated at the restaurant.

Finally, the time of reckoning arrived. Paulita had no idea what Joe was going to say. After a cocktail, Joe mustered the courage to tell Paulita.

“Yesterday, I fell in love with you. I want to be with you.”

Paulita was dumbfounded. “Aren’t we going a little fast?” she asked.

“At our age, we don’t have a lot of time,” Joe said. “May I visit you in Mexico after the Holidays?”

Paulita’s enthusiastic response: “YES!”

The next morning, Joe called Paulita. “Have a safe trip. I love you.”

That night, he called her in Mexico to ensure she arrived there safely.

Then, he called his son and daughter.

He said, “I’ve fallen in love.”

His son said, “Dad, you’re kidding.”

His daughter said, “Dad, you’re kidding.”

He said to both of them: “Even old people can fall in love. Love doesn’t come out, it escapes.”

Joe and Paulita talked twice a day by phone. A few days later, he said, “I can’t wait until after the Holidays. I want to see you tomorrow.”

She said, “Great!” He did. And he stayed in Mexico for eight days, which included asking Paulita to marry him.

She said, “Great!”

He returned to California for Christmas with his children. And then he returned to Mexico to see Paulita for another 12 days. They set a wedding date.

Joe notified his three widow friends in Pittsburgh of his wedding plans. They shared his joy.

In February 1991, Joe and Paulita married.

Joe told me this story in 1995. He was a customer of Tutor and Spunky’s, my Dana Point deli. We had become good friends. We talked a lot about baseball; we talked about senior romance.

He said, “I love Paulita as much now as I did four years ago.”

The following week they left for Mexico. Together.

                              The rest of the story from Tom

In 1995, I had been a newspaper columnist for 30 months. The story of Joe and Paulita was column number 74. At Joe’s request, I did not use their true names. Instead, I called them Ed and Jackie.

There was a reason for Joe’s request. Dana Point was a small city. Lots of people knew each other. Joe was a humble man, not wanting to draw attention to himself and Paulita. He was well known, the son of the famous comedian and actor, Joe E. Brown.

But our Joe in this article was Joe L. Brown, who was the general manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team for 21 years, from November 1955 until the end of 1976.

Photo of Joe L Brown presented to Tutor and Spunky’s Deli. Joe wrote: “Great food. Good People.”

Under Joe’s leadership, the Pirates won two World Series Championships, in 1960 and 1971. Most old-timer baseball fans remember when Bill Mazeroski hit the lead-off home run in the ninth inning against the New York Yankees to win the 1960 series.

Joe was responsible for putting together “The Lumber Company,” a group of powerful hitters that included Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Dave Parker and Al Oliver, to name a few of them. After retiring, Joe was Chairman of the Baseball Hall of Fame Veterans Committee.

I recall him sharing with me who the committee might consider for entry into the Hall of Fame that particular year. He and I had a special connection, mainly because of a love for baseball.

After Paulita died, Joe moved to Albuquerque to be near his daughter Cynthia. He passed away at 91 on August 10, 2010.

A month or so after he died, Cynthia called me to thank me for being such a great friend of her dad’s. Needless to say, her call meant a great deal to me and warmed my heart. I am truly blessed to have known this incredible man.

And that’s the rest of the story.

I won’t settle responses and more

  On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter –  July 17, 2020

by Columnist Tom Blake

Part One – Responses to: “I won’t settle”

Part 2 – What two Champs are doing during COVID-19

Part 3 – Appreciating our lives  

                                   Part One – Responses to: “I won’t settle”

Last week, we wrote about Stacy, who, in four years, has settled for a man’s indifference towards her. She asked for advice. Comments from 10 women, some who’ve had similar experiences, follow:

Pat, Sacramento, emailed:

This is a classic case of a woman hearing what she wants to hear. She has allowed herself to be manipulated into a ‘friends-with-benefits’ situation. The only time the man has ‘integrity’ is when he states that he doesn’t want to get married. Maya Angelou said, ‘When people tell you who they are, believe them the first time.’

“This lady should immediately get a paperback copy of He’s just not that into you, a landmark relationship guide.

“This woman is a sitting duck for the scam artists that patrol online sites. They are experts in telling women what they want to hear. If this lady only lost four years, she got off easy. It could have been a lot worse.

“She should not even bother to tell the man goodbye. Just get the book, a coach if necessary, and start her new life. The man is not the problem; she is her own worst enemy. If he contacts her, she should not bother to play the blame game, since she was an active participant. She should simply state that she decided to ‘Get a life!’

“I can state this advice bluntly because I have had these dysfunctional behaviors myself and have recovered.”

Joanie, “Stacy is desperate, and Bob is offering her crumbs. He does not want more than a friends-with-benefits relationship. She, on the other hand, seems to have a very tolerant attitude towards men and is willing to compromise. She should look for a better man.  

“Bob is continuing to look for ‘Mrs. Right,’ and he does it in front of her eyes. Stacy’s great challenge is the fear of being alone.

Shelley, “Stacy is settling; she wants to matter to this man, but he isn’t making her a priority.

“If a relationship is not reciprocal, it’s not equal. Stacy should date other men and take a ‘break’ from Bob. Keeping quiet out of fear of rocking-the-boat never works in the long run.

“Bob’s actions don’t demonstrate love. She is not respecting herself.

Susan, “Stacy seems to have visualized that this man is perfectly suited for her but is ignoring the red flags. A person needs to either accept who someone is or end the relationship. 

“Yes, it is very hard to let go of the good parts of the relationship but as long as there are parts that don’t work and those parts cannot be accepted with peace and grace, the relationship will never work. Maybe that is what her man sees, but since he is in control, it does not bother him.” 

Barb, “Stacy’s situation hit pretty close to home! I have been in a relationship with a guy for eight years. We are very compatible. He is just a GREAT guy, was such a hard worker (just retired), willing to help others. He’s been married and divorced three times, bad marriages, not looking to remarry! 

“He’s always telling me how wonderful I am, beautiful, honest, and it’s quiet when I’m not there, etc., but he just moved 1600 miles away. I just returned from spending almost a month there; I’m hoping he will realize what he is missing!

“I will be moving too. Where?? not sure, just out of here. Can’t handle this Arizona heat and take care of my place without his help. Life is what you make it…in a sense, but it is better with someone you love!!

“Reading Stacy’s letter was particularly painful. I have been where she is. Why is it so much easier to see it in someone else?” 

Sylvia, “I understand, Stacy, that you want the relationship so much you’re willing to delude yourself into thinking it will change, it will be different, he’ll figure it out eventually. He won’t. 

“What he will do is meet someone else and move on while you’re left wondering what you did wrong. What you did was not value yourself. You’re so grateful that he is spending some time with you that you’re willing to overlook important signs. When he is gone, you will have wasted over four years. You can’t ‘fix’ him, you can only fix you.

Value yourself. Don’t settle. Find someone who appreciates you, but you must appreciate yourself first. 

“I’d rather be alone than spend time with someone who makes me feel insecure and unsure of myself.”

Jackie, Georgia: “OMG! Is there a book- ‘I Stayed Tooo Long?’ If not, there should be. My heart hurts when ladies settle! 

“I had someone pop into my FB about a month ago that showed interest who now lives in Texas but grew up in Michigan close to my home. He was a retired Chaplin and did a lot of spiritual outreach. We had many things in common.

“It didn’t take long for him to sign his notes with hugs and kisses. There was a silent time that I didn’t hear from him, so I showed concern he may have gotten the virus. He said, no, he had broken up with a lady and felt depressed.  

“But he told me I was number-one now (what a joke)! He would say how he went to sleep with his ‘Jackie’ pillow. But when he sent me some red-hot lips, I asked him if he was wearing lipstick and mentioned I was interested in someone knowing my heart not the lust of the flesh!  

“He blocked me and I haven’t heard from him since! I’m doing a happy dance!

“It’s been nine years since I divorced after 42 years (talk about staying tooo long) and now over three years that Randy, my second husband, passed away.

“I’m trusting in God to be the lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. He led me to Randy and He can do it again without my chasing to look for someone who may not be right. However, I’m not sitting in a chair waiting!  

Kaitte, “I don’t think she wants to hear it but if a guy broke it off with me the FIRST time, I would have said that’s it. What’s That old saying? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me–because I let it happen again. 

“I would rather be in the single, no-drama state I’ve been in for these 20 years than wonder if someone is screwing me over.”

Leslie, “Stacey says she’s never been as happy. She doesn’t sound happy to me. My bet is if she did as you suggested, she’d find someone who appreciates her.

“Bob sounds like guys I’ve known, so many women out there, he’s playing the victim from a previous marriage as an excuse because he knows he ‘has’ Stacey while he plays around.

“Well, Stacey, there are lots of men out there too. I’ve stayed in relationships too long, also. Out of fear. Wasted lots of time.

“I wish Stacey the courage and the knowing there are men out there who will love her, tell her so, and make a lifelong commitment.”

Diane, 59, shared: I was married 20 years. A year after my divorce, I met Lewis and spent 10 years with him on and off. In year four, his son moved in with him. He gave his son everything the son wanted. 

“I should have left him then, but I loved him and thought I could change him. I ended the relationship after 10 years by moving out of state, so that I would not have the urge to contact him, or run into him, or see him again. Tried online dating three times–not for me. 

“I’ve learned that I am the only person that can make me happy.”

                  Part 2 – What two Champs are doing during the virus

Last weekend, I visited Vince and Julie, who are Champs that have a booth at the Dana Point Farmer’s Market on Saturdays. They sell hats and other forms of merchandise with all sorts of different logos.

  Champs Vince and Julie

I’ve known Vince for 27 years when he was a tennis pro and later the manager of the Ritz Carlton Hotel Gift Shop. I asked him about possibly having some hats made with a “Tom’s Champs” logo, which I’m thinking of creating.

Vince gave me his business card to check out their company’s website. Oh my gosh, I had no idea his company does personalized logos, hats, clothing, and patches that can be pasted or sewn on to garments. They prepare items for people all over the USA, not just Dana Point.

There are actually three Champs living in Vince’s and Julie’s home. Julie’s Mom, Dee, a longtime Champ, lives with them. They are wonderful, helpful people and very talented. Their contact information is on the website. Check out the website at the end of today’s article; you might find something you’d like.

                       Part 3 – Appreciating our lives

News came in this week that made Greta and I realize how fortunate we are. It had nothing to do with the virus. Nonetheless, it shook us up.

On May 25, 1999, my nephew Derek, who lived in Dallas, was able to get tickets to the Fifth Annual Blockbuster Entertainment Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. He invited Greta and I to attend, along with his friends, Jim and Marci Kalina, who lived in nearby Laguna Niguel. The Kalinas never did anything second class, so they hired a limo for six of us to transport us to and from Los Angeles. Derek also got us tickets to a VIP Post Party.

And Derek somehow got us into an even more private special VIP party that was in an upstairs room for the entertainers. We met the members of NSYNC; I recall having a nice conversation with Lance Bass.

When Greta spotted a place to sit on a couch next to John Travolta and his wife Kelly Preston, she sat down. Kelly was 36 at the time. Greta struck up a friendly conversation with the Travolta’s and I took this photo.

Greta, John Travolta and Kelly Preston – May 25, 1999, Los Angeles
                                                                                              photo by Tom Blake

This week, Kelly Preston passed away at 57, from breast cancer. Greta and I were stunned. Having met her, it just didn’t seem right that she passed so early. We feel bad for John and the family. They’ve had tough sledding in their lives—a son, age 16, named Jett, passed away in 2009.

Greta and I feel blessed that we’ve been able to enjoy our lives for so long.

The link to Champ Vince’s and Julie’s Going Somewhere Sportswear website:

Woman, 60, says, “I won’t settle!” But she already has – for 4 years

 On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter – July 10, 2020

By Columnist Tom Blake

“I won’t settle,” a senior single woman says, but she already has – for four years

Stacy wrote, “Have any Champs ever mentioned that they don’t understand the relationship they are in and don’t know how to accurately describe it? I feel that way.

“I am 60, a senior single woman, successful in my career, have three grown children, take care of myself, own my home, and repeatedly have been told I am attractive.  

“After 26 years of marriage, I divorced my husband in 2014. In 2015, I met, Bob, a wonderful man on Plenty of Fish (POF). We live 50-60 minutes by car away from each other. We instantly hit it off. We share many similar characteristics, likes and dislikes, temperaments, values, and life priorities. I knew early on that he was a man of integrity and quality.

“When we met, Bob had been divorced 13 years after a verbally and emotionally abusive marriage but hadn’t healed from the scars. While I was happy and feeling hopeful about our future, Bob always held back.

“During the first two years of dating, Bob broke up with me twice. I was devastated the first time; we reconciled after a week. The second time, I was hurt and confused but each day became easier. We reconciled after three months. We have been dating each other for two years since.

“Bob has always told me he didn’t want to remarry and that I should date others because he knew I wanted a lifetime partner.

“I won’t ask him questions if I don’t think I’d like the answers, fearing they likely would be hurtful and might cause the relationship to end.”

“We continue to spend most weekends together. Plus, we call and email during the week. We both are busy in our work. Right before our third anniversary, I had an uneasy feeling after an evening phone call with him. He sounded vague, suspicious. I checked his POF profile and yes, he was looking for other women to date.

“I was so upset, at 10:45 p.m., I drove an hour to his house. I confronted him about his profile. He was reassuring, saying it didn’t mean anything, he just liked reading profiles, and that no one ever contacted him. I wanted to believe him, but it took a lot of soul-searching and determination to try again. I asked him to take down his profile and be exclusive. He agreed.

“Now, into our fourth summer, and with the COVID-19 virus making seeing each other more difficult, we have had and continue to have our ups and downs. We spend as much time as we can together, but we both took extended vacations to visit family and have been apart quite a lot.

“Last week, I began to wonder if I should resume dating other men. He seems content with our situation. However, he is unwilling to involve himself emotionally. He keeps up a guard, a wall.

“He does not allow himself to be put in vulnerable situations. He goes to great lengths to avoid confrontation. And yet, I can see love in his eyes and in his smile. However, he has never told me in four years that he loves me.

“I saw an ad on Our Time and decided to look at it. Guess what I found? A profile that matched Bob’s 100%! No picture or words this time, I’m guessing he doesn’t want to pay. I cannot tell you how hurt I have been. I didn’t mention it this past weekend because I don’t want him to know I know.

“I went online this evening and he had been active within one hour of me leaving him. I don’t see how he would have time to meet and date women. I think he is just reading the profiles as a hobby.

“I stay with him because I cannot imagine any other person making me as happy as Bob makes me. It doesn’t matter what we do, we have fun and enjoy being together. We finish each other’s thoughts and sentences. He is smart, funny, clever, and kind. He is very easy-going and accepting of others.

“I want him to stop looking at dating profiles! I’d settle (bold face and italics entered by Tom) for some kind reassurances and travel plans. Bob needs to find a more appropriate hobby.

“I would appreciate your opinion.”

                                Tom’s answer to Stacy

“Stacy, I’m trying to be respectful and diplomatic. However, it’s probably not what you want to hear.

‘You are part of the problem with Bob. In the second to last paragraph, you said, “I’d settle for…” You already have settled. You have settled for four years of not being told he loves you. You have settled because you are afraid that the truth will be painful. You are afraid if you rock Bob’s boat, you will be alone, possibly forever.

“For two people to succeed as a couple, there must be open, honest communication. You don’t have that with him because of your fear.

“You have settled by thinking his studying online profiles of other women is just a hobby and you are not facing the reality that he is looking for another woman who will make him happier. A man of ‘integrity and quality,’ as you referred to him, does not do that.

“You have settled for him telling you to date others, while not knowing if he has or is dating because you fear knowing the truth.

“You see love in his eyes and his smile. But, his actions don’t connect with love. This is a man who hasn’t healed 17 years after his divorce. Bob is not going to change,

You need to:

1. Identify what you want from this relationship

2. Open communications and get the cards on the table, not just about his “online hobby,” but about all things important

3. Be prepared to be on your own because that’s likely going to happen

4. Find self-esteem and courage

5. Stop settling

If you don’t do these things, you will be stuck in the same rut you’ve been in for the last four years.

Your situation reminds me of the title of my favorite Robert Earl Keen, Jr. song, “The road goes on forever” (and the party never ends.) 

The party never ends at Tutor and Spunky’s Deli in Dana Point (prepared and delivered 600 sack lunches in 2013)

Link to “The Road Goes On Forever (and the party never ends): You can click on “skip ad” when the video first appears.

The loyalty of Champs

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter –  July 3, 2020
                                      The Loyalty of Champs

by Columnist Tom Blake

My newspaper-column writing has an anniversary this week: 26 years. The first article was published on July 7, 1994; it was titled, “Home alone with only dogs for company.”

Six years later, I started writing eNewsletters. Combining the newspaper articles and eNewsletters, I estimate I’ve written approximately 4,300 pieces.

Some Champs have been subscribers for nearly 20 years. Their loyalty amazes and pleases me. Today, I share Beckie’s story; she’s been a Champ for 12 years.

                                    In 2009, Beckie first emailed

Beckie’s story was told in the August 28, 2009 newsletter, which was titled “Old flames reunite after 41 years.”

Excerpts from that 2009 newsletter follow:

“Beckie, Raleigh, North Carolina, signed up for this newsletter after attending a presentation I made at last year’s (2008) AARP National Event & Expo in Washington, D.C.

“Three and a half years ago, at age 56, Rick, Beckie’s husband, died, having lived with ALS for five years. They had married 36 years before while attending Colorado State University (CSU).”

In that 2009 newsletter, Beckie was quoted: “Being alone had become my new normal. But I did not want to spend the rest of my life alone. Finding someone online seemed unlikely. Instead, I thought about Ray, a man I had gone out with my freshman and sophomore years at CSU.

“In the summer of 2008, I found Ray on LinkedIn, thought about contacting him, but wasn’t ready. After Christmas, I emailed him, which started an email correspondence.

“The more we corresponded, the more we found we had in common—a similar sense of humor, values, love of words, how we handle money and various likes and dislikes.

“In March, Ray flew to Raleigh, took me out on a Saturday night and left on Sunday. We found we still had chemistry in addition to a strong friendship we had been building.

“We’ve spent numerous long weekends seeing each other. We celebrated our 60th birthdays together. He is three weeks older. My children are happy for me.

“I know Rick would be happy too. During his illness, Rick had jokingly said numerous times that he would pick out my next husband for me. He would be surprised that he in fact knew the man with whom I want to spend the rest of my life.

“The relationship with Ray grows stronger as the days and months pass. We are both practical people. We have looked for but found no red flags. Being together is natural. We are very thankful we found each other again.”

                                        Four years later in 2013

On June 28, 2013, after reading that day’s newsletter, which was titled, “Older singles’ dilemma: marriage, live together, live separately?” Beckie emailed me.

She wrote, “What is the consensus of what to call the person you are living with if you have no plans to marry?

“Our reason to not marry is I would lose my late husband’s pension. ‘Boyfriend’ sounds juvenile for a 60-year-old. When I was younger, I never thought I’d be living with someone unless we were married, even though I grew up in the 1960s. But who knew how circumstances would color that thought?”

I responded to Beckie: “I am pleased that you’ve had the good sense not to remarry, which would have meant sacrificing the pension.”

                                Seven years later June 25, 2020

Two weeks ago, Beckie responded to the “Don’t let the old man in” column.

She emailed, “Ray and I have been together for 11 years and lived together for 10. We are both 70, valiantly trying not to let the “old man” or “old woman” in.

 Beckie and Ray–together for 11 years

“Ray plays guitar; he learned to play Toby Keith’s song, ‘Don’t let the old man in.’ He will share it with his guitar group when they can safely get together again.”

I appreciate the loyalty of Beckie and our history of keeping in touch: 2009, 2013, and now in 2020. I hope similar history can be recreated with other Champs who have been with me for years.  

Oh, by the way, to answer Beckie’s 2013 question: what do living-together lovers call each other when not married? How about: “My meant to-be mate?” (MMTBM)

                                                        Part 2 – July 4, 2020

On Wednesday, a gentleman named Robert sent me an email. The subject line: JOHNNY CASH & That Ragged Old Flag

Robert’s email included a download of Johnny being interviewed by radio and TV personality Ralph Emery, in which Emery asks Johnny if he would speak the words of the song, “Grand Old Flag,” which Johnny wrote in 1975. I went online and found that entire segment, including Johnny’s opinion about flag burning, of which I had never heard Johnny speak in the two years I worked with him (link to video below).

I wrote back to Robert: “Thanks for sending that. I personally was present when Johnny sang that song, many, many times. So, as we approach the 4th, you made my entire week and weekend. I am so blessed to have known Johnny and June and to have heard him sing the song live. 

“That was long, long, ago. In 1976, a year after Johnny wrote Grand Old Flag, I first met John and June. Sometimes, I sit and wonder if it really happened to me. Here’s proof it did, in the parking lot of the Victoria Station restaurant, Miami, Florida.

June, Johnny holding John Carter, and Tom         photo by Tom

Happy 4th Robert!

HAPPY JULY 4TH. Remember to wear masks and social distance if you are watching the fireworks (if not canceled. Ours in Dana Point, Ca., were canceled). COVID-19 doesn’t disappear at night. And all of the “ooh’s” and “ah’s” and lack of wind could make the situation even more contagious if too close to others.

Video of Johhny Cash interview: