Reconnecting with Tom Maney


On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter – August 20, 2021
by Tom Blake – Columnist

Publishing my memoir, “Tutor & Spunky’s Deli. A Dana Point Landmark,” yields an unexpected result: connecting with an old friend.

Most Champs are aware that I published a memoir in July. After all, you helped me create the book’s title, “Tutor & Spunky’s Deli. A Dana Point Landmark.” All paperback copies ordered by Champs so far have been autographed and shipped.

I wrote the book for three primary reasons:

1 -During the 26 years of owning and operating the deli, I met so many incredible people—employees, customers, friends, suppliers, and a few celebs—I wanted to acknowledge and thank them for contributing to the vitality of the deli. More than 550 are mentioned in the book.

2 -As we age, keeping our minds alert is nearly as important as keeping our bodies moving. This self-publishing project helped me keep my mind alert. There was a lot of research, a lot of looking facts up online, and a lot of editing and spellchecking. I did pretty well by keeping typos and errors to a minimum in the 382 pages. It helped fill the extra time made available by the Covid-19 epidemic.

3 -I thought that the book might contribute, ever so little, to the history of Dana Point, California, which became a city two weeks after I had opened the deli in 1988. The city and the deli grew up together. I felt that some people in Dana Point and surrounding cities might have an interest in the tidbits of history that the deli experienced during those years.

One thing I didn’t anticipate was the personal warmth I felt when reconnecting with people I hadn’t seen or talked to in up to 32 years. To locate many of them–even some who still live in Dana Point–required searching online, Facebook, Dana Point Unplugged, LinkedIn, and any other place I could think of.

This brings me to today’s story. In the book, in the 1990 chapter, I included two pictures of a customer named Tom Maney. One of the pictures is of Tom, which he had given me, chipping out a piece of the Berlin Wall, which had opened on November 9, 1988, signaling the fall of The Iron Curtain.

Tom chipped out that piece a few weeks after the Wall had fallen.

In addition to the picture, he also presented the deli with a chip from the wall he had brought back to Dana Point. That picture with the piece of the wall was mounted on the deli Wall of Fame. It remained there for 24 years until I retired in 2015.

Tom Maney moved to New York City in 1992. He went to work for ESPN sports. He sent me an ESPN tee-shirt in 1993, which I still have. We lost track of each other.

I wanted to include that picture with the piece of the wall in the book. So, I searched online for Tom Maney and discovered that he had done extremely well in a sports media career. Additionally, he has been successful in New Jersey and New York real estate. I sent him an email on June 26 with this subject line: “A Blast from the Past – Tutor & Spunky’s.”

And this is where that reward of connecting with old friends comes in. On June 29, Tom replied that he was semi-retired after spending 30 years in sports media. He wrote, “So many great memories that go beyond your terrific deli sandwiches.” His message gave me goosebumps.
He said he was going to order the book from Amazon.

Then, on August 14, Tom sent another email. He wrote, “What a great pleasure it was to spend the day at the beach (New Jersey’s Long Beach Island is a barrier island in the southern part of the Jersey Shore) reading your book. Dana Point has always had a special place in my heart. Thank you for including me in your wonderful story. What became of that picture and piece of the wall?”

I told him that the picture and piece of the Berlin Wall were now on our home-office wall. Reconnecting with Tom Maney happened because of the book. I had reached out to a long-lost friend. It meant so much to me.

I got to thinking, wondering if Tom Maney would like the picture and wall chip. So, I wrote him and said, “I would be honored to part ways with that deli artifact and send it to you as a return gift. It could become a part of your family’s genealogy and history.”

Tom responded: “I still have several pieces of the wall so there’s no need to return it. It belongs with all the Tutor & Spunky’s wall of fame items.

”32 years ago we were so young, handsome, and full of ambition. You did it right by doing your corporate career first and then moving to Dana Point. I did it backward. Now I have to figure out how to get back….”

So the piece of the Berlin Wall chipped out in 1990 remains in Dana Point, 31 years later.

Reconnecting with an old friend happened because of the book I had written. But people don’t need to write a book to reconnect with old friends. They can just do the search and try to find them. When you do, it will warm your heart.
I hope that as I reach out to more people who are in the book, there will be other stories similar to this one that will emerge–if I can track the people down. 

Author: tpblake

Tom Blake is a newspaper columnist in south Orange County, California. He has published four 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 TravelAfter55.com.

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