20 Years Where’d They Go?

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter November 13, 2020

Tom Blake 26 years of writing columns

20 Years, Where’d They Go? Like A Rock

This Tuesday, November 10, I completed the final edit to this week’s eNewsletter. Scheduled it for today. It felt good to be a little ahead of the game; I wouldn’t have to worry about the normal last-minute edits.

But then, Wednesday, November 11, Veteran’s Day, came along. The eNewsletter game-plan unexpectedly changed.

What happened on Wednesday?  

An email arrived in the morning from Champ Regina McGrath, of Dana Point, a special friend of Greta’s and mine.

Regina wrote: “I could have sworn I was wishing you a Happy Birthday about a month ago, so either in my old age I’m confusing dates, OR in my old age time really is going by that fast…conclusion being, I’m old!! Ha-ha!

“As always, I enjoy each and every eNewsletter you produce and as always, I miss you and Greta!

“I often wonder if you REALLY know how much you’re admired and appreciated?

“Have a wonderful Birthday & Veterans Day!”

Regina’s email stopped me in my tracks; it struck a chord. 

I responded: “Thanks for the birthday wishes. Yes, it’s today. Thanks for the “admired and appreciated” comment. Wow, it’s the appreciation from Champs and friends such as you that so truly matters to me.

“For some reason—probably because it’s another birthday–your words made me reflect on all the years I’ve lived and how fortunate I’ve been, particularly the last 20 years, in which Greta and I have lived together.

“Thinking of those 20 years reminded me of one of my all-time favorite songs, “Like a Rock” by Bob Seger. (That song was used in one of the longest-running TV advertising campaigns in history, 1991 to 2004, which resulted in Chevy selling millions of trucks. Here is the verse from the song that triggered me to look back today and appreciate how blessed I’ve been.”

A verse from Like A Rock:

“Twenty years now
Where’d they go?
Twenty years
I don’t know
I sit and I wonder sometimes
Where they’ve gone
And sometimes late at night
When I’m bathed in the firelight
The moon comes callin’ a ghostly white
And I recall
I recall
Like a rock, standin’ arrow-straight
Like a rock, chargin’ from the gate
Like a rock, carryin’ the weight
Like a rock
Like a rock, the sun upon my skin
Like a rock, hard against the wind
Like a rock, I see myself again
Like a rock”

A few minutes after Regina’s email came in, my phone rang. It was Jaime and Larry Black, who live in Laguna Beach, just up the road from Dana Point. Jaime is our travel agent and Larry prepares my tax returns in my CPA’s office.

They wished me a Happy Birthday, and then Larry said, “Aren’t you a veteran?”

I said, “Yes, which makes November 11 even more special to me.”

Larry said, “You can probably enjoy a free meal at lots of restaurants because it’s your birthday and you’re a vet.”

I said, winking at Greta, “I think we’ve got that covered.”

Larry’s veteran comment reminded me of 2016, when Greta and I visited the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach in Normany, France, and Omaha Beach itself, one of the many beaches used by the Allied Forces on D-Day, June 6, 1944, an event, I feel, that saved the world.

Being there made Greta and me feel even more grateful we are Americans. Below: “The Braves” Monument on Omaha Beach in honor of those who perished on D-Day 

The Braves Monument Omaha Beach
   (photo by Tom Blake 2016)

And speaking of D-Day, one of our Champs, Les Jones, age 94, was a part of the American forces on that invasion.

Champ Les Jones – WWII veteran

Les was also in the Pacific Theatre during World War II. A big salute and thanks to Les on November 11, and all days in fact.

Les is a close friend of Gary Sinise, whose foundation benefits veterans. This picture is of Gary and Les at a recent War Memorial visit in Washington D.C., It is very moving.

  Gary Sinise and Les 

And then, another email came in, which added to the emotional patriotism I was feeling on November 11. It was from Champ Ellen B, Seattle, sending a birthday greeting. What’s the patriotism-connection there?

I met Ellen at an Anaheim Angels baseball game in 1995. I first saw her on the pitcher’s mound, where she sang the National Anthem and introduced myself when she returned to her seat, near where I was sitting behind home plate.

I wrote my 63rd newspaper column about meeting her, which was published, August 30, 1995, titled, “Star-Spangled Night.” Wow, a quarter-century ago.

I responded to her Wednesday email with: “Oh say can you see, by the dawn’s early light…”

There is one more reason why November 11 is so special to me. I was born on my Mom’s birthday, so we shared that day together as often as possible. So, of course, that is another reason why Regina’s email struck such a chord.

With all of these things happening Wednesday morning, I decided to place on hold the eNewsletter initially planned for today. A new message bubbled up inside of me. I wrote straight from my heart, in a stream-of-consciousness. It took about an hour.  As I read it to Greta for her comments, I had to stop a few times, I was emotionally overcome.

So, Regina, thanks for inspiring me to write today’s eNewsletter. And guess what? I already have next week’s column written. So,wow, a week off.

I appreciate all of you and the opportunity to reach out to you each week!


Link to Bob Seger’s “Like A Rock” Be sure to listen for the guitar solo that begins at around the 2:10 mark–incredible.

Why can’t senior men be just friends without wanting senior sex?

September 20, 2019

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – September 20 2019

Tom Blake 26 years of writing columns

Senior sex and intimacy

Why can’t senior men be just friends without wanting senior sex?

Champ Althea emailed, “Why can’t senior men be just friends without wanting senior sex with a lady? I’m having a problem with that. It has happened to me more than three times recently at age 70.

“It also happened when I first started dating in my 50s. I was divorced at 51.

“I meet a man and he’s nice, we get along, share humor and activities we like. But I’m not romantically or sexually attracted to him, but I like his company and would like to be friends and do things together.

“I tell him this and he says okay, but he will continually try and pursue a romantic relationship even after I’ve explained my feelings.”

Althea said she met a man who lives in the same small city on Craigslist over a year ago. She found out after four dates that his wife had passed away only two months before. She told him that he was still grieving and should hold off on dating. She said he was even thinking of romance that soon after losing his wife.

She told him she enjoyed his company, but she was not physically attracted to him. They stopped dating.

Althea continued, “He stayed in touch with me, texting every now and then and wanting to know if I’d see him again. It took me until this summer for me to say okay.

“But then, off he went! On the same train of thought. Again, I explained that I liked him, really liked his company and would like to do things together, but that I was not attracted to him romantically or sexually.

“He still brought up romance, would hug me, touch me… try to get me to change my mind. He even stole a kiss when I only bent in to hug him goodbye. He then said, ‘Aha, I’ve been wanting to do that for a long time!’

“My girlfriend told me that was rude and disrespectful of him and that he didn’t understand boundaries. Yeah, I was shocked. And he’s not the first to act like this!

“So, tell me, is it only when a man doesn’t find a woman attractive that he can and will be friends with her? What I’ve heard is, a man won’t spend time with a woman he feels is unattractive or isn’t attracted to. Huh???

“What is your take on this? Why can’t a man, who is lonely, has no one to go out with and do things with, be content to spend times as friends with a woman he likes and enjoy her company without it having to go romantic or sexual?

“I am interested in what other women, and men, might say on this subject because it really bugs me on the whys and how comes.”

Tom’s response: Over the years, I’ve written on this topic or a variation of it from time to time, and, posted 15 of those newsletters on my FindingLoveAfter50.com website under the category, Senior Sex and Intimacy. At the conclusion of today’s article, I describe how to access those 15 website articles.

I copied four quotes from one of those articles—two quotes from men and two from women.

Man #1 said, “I’m always amused at the ‘surprise’ women report when the men they date want sex. Here’s a bulletin for females in that category: Men date to get sex! That’s not all that bad, because for lots of guys like me, that’s the minimum relationship requirement.”

Man #2, Mason, stated, “Women need to realize that when men leave after having sex, it isn’t because of the sex. They would have left anyway. Any man that has true attraction for a woman will stay. Sex is not the issue, it’s simply that he determined she’s not the right woman.”

Kathy said, “Women get short-sighted and connect sex with love. Men don’t associate sex with love like we do!”

Sandi, “Men are hard-wired so differently from women. I think by now we know sex is uppermost in men’s thinking process.”

I’ll take a stab at an answer. And, perhaps Champs will share their thoughts.

Most of the men I know enjoy physical contact with women. They are, as Sandi stated above, “hard-wired” that way. If a man is attracted to a woman, in addition to doing things together–movies, plays, travel, camping, dinner, walking, for example—chances are he wants the physical contact as well.

I am not talking about casual sex just to have sex with women. I’m talking about having physical contact with the woman he’s dating and cares about. To me, that seems natural.

If a man is interested in a relationship with a woman, he’ll wait until she’s ready to have sex. Of course, at some point he may decide the situation is never going to change–as in Althea’s case above–and he’ll move on to be with a woman who is physically attracted to him.

And, I have a question for Althea: Were there any men you were attracted to? Maybe the problem is you are “Looking for love in all the wrong places,” as singer Johnny Lee sang in his song, Looking For Love, featured in the soundtrack from the 1970 movie Urban Cowboy. (See link to that song at the end of the article, featuring John Travolta (Bud) and Debra Winger (Sissy).

                      Looking for love in all the wrong places

Also, for Althea, that man who pursued you likely kept trying because he was attracted to you. He hoped you’d change your feelings toward him. He felt you were worth waiting for.

And as far as him stealing that kiss. Really now, is that rude and disrespectful, as your girlfriend says? Take it as a compliment. At least the guy had some cojones, and a little fire in his belly. And at age 71, he’s still got a little testosterone working.

For me, I wouldn’t be in a relationship without my woman being willing to share hugs and affection. That was one of the things Greta and I had in common when we first met—and it’s still there after 21 years.

I understand Althea’s frustration. And one item she mentioned I agree with: I don’t understand why a man who is lonely, and has no one, isn’t willing to have a friend without benefits. It seems that would be better than not having a friend at all.

                               END OF COLUMN

To access those 15 articles on www.FindingLoveAfter50.com.

Go to the home page. Under my photo near the top is a green horizontal tab running across the page. To the right on that tab, you may see the categories appear near the top. Scroll down to the Senior Sex and Intimacy category. Click on that and it will pull up those 15 articles.

If that doesn’t do the trick, go to the eNewsletters listing in the green tab. Hover your mouse over that, which should pull up the categories. Scroll down to the Senior Sex and Intimacy category.

Looking for Love Urban Cowboy link:


More About Ireland 10-day Motor Coach Tour August 2019

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter – August 23, 2019

More about Ireland 10-day motor coach tour

By Tom Blake 26 years of writing columns

Last week, I wrote about my partner Greta’s and my first week in Ireland. Today, I want to add some travel information and share with you the five most enjoyable activities we experienced in Ireland:

(1) Our Globus motor coach tour group of 28 visiting 200-year old Rathbaun Farm, 

near Galway, where we all prepared scones from scratch, and while the scones were baking, observed a border collie herding sheep.

                                                 Our group making scones

    At least I contributed something–by holding the flour    

(2) Helping make Irish coffees for our group of 28

On day 6 in Ireland, our itinerary read,

“Make your own Irish Coffee” at the Foynes Flying Boat Maritime Museum. Foynes is a small town near Limerick and Shannon Airport. Explore the only full-size replica of a Boeing B314 ‘Clipper,’ the long-range flying boat from the 1930s.”

I had no idea how Irish coffee and the flight museum were related. The woman who greeted us said Irish Coffee was invented there in 1943. I thought, that’s impossible, Irish Coffee, was invented at the Buena Vista (BV) Café in San Francisco.

I know that because my good friend and co-worker from years ago, Bob Freeman, one of the three founders of the Victoria Station restaurant chain, for which I worked, now (in 2019) owns the BV, and the restaurant is known for its world-famous Irish Coffee.

Turns out, I was wrong about it being invented there in San Francisco. Joe Sheridan, the chef for the Flying Boats in Ireland, invented it for the guests on those luxury airplane trips in Ireland, and 10 years later, in 1953, Sheridan, after moving to San Francisco, introduced it to the BV, where he worked. At the flight museum, the BV is mentioned, even promoted.

The BV serves around 2,000 Irish Coffees per day and claims that nearly 50 million of them have been served over 68 years. I may have sipped three in my visits there so I’ve contributed to that number.

The greeter lady in Foynes needed a volunteer to help make Irish coffees for our group of 28. I promptly raised my hand; she picked me. Afterwards, for helping her, she presented me with a token silver “Champion Irish Coffee Maker” medal and a signed History of Irish Coffee proclamation. What a hoot! (By the way, the correct way to sip Irish Coffee is through the cream).

                               Tom’s Irish Coffee, proclamation and medallion  

(3) Visiting the Waterford Crystal factory – In Waterford, the group enjoyed a tour of the famous Waterford Crystal factory, which has 180 employees producing the well-known vases, stemware and sports trophies. The original Waterford Crystal building is vacant, and the company has moved to a much smaller facility, but it’s still going strong. After the tour, Greta and I managed to exit the showroom without purchasing any of the captivating glassware. Some of our group purchased crystal items.

           No shopping at Waterford Crystal Factory and Showroom for Greta and Tom

(4) At a pub outside of Waterford, our tour group was entertained by an Irish singer—a crusty, gruff-voiced guy. He was having fun teasing us with his version of “Name That Tune.”

He sang a song and then asked, “Does anyone know the name of that song and who sang it?”

I raised my hand, shouting: “Wildwood Flower by Mother Maybelle Carter (the mother of June Carter Cash, Johnny Cash’s wife) and The Carter Sisters.”

After the show, the singer asked, “How did you know that?”

I said, “I worked with Johnny Cash for two years and heard Mother Maybelle sing that song many times in person, and, also knew her.”

(5) Favorite city: Killarney. Killarney is a small city, population of approximately 14,500. However, it has more hotels than Dublin, according to our tour guide. It’s a happening, party city. We loved our visit there.

The Guinness store there is like a LL Bean Store, with all kinds of neat clothing items and gift merchandise.

                                                                  Killarney Guinness Store       
Here is a picture of our tour group.

Barbara McCarthy, tour guide, front row left in white; Shaun, driver, front row right with sunglasses on head   (photo courtesy Paul Culver)

Some Champs asked for the name of our tour company: Globus Tours. Ask your travel agent. By the way, our Ireland tour guide, Barbara was fantastic. So organized and upbeat. She knew all our names by the end of the first day.

And our motor coach driver, Shaun, was good, really good. Oh my, those narrow roads and cliffside-stretches of roads along the Ring of Kerry. He got us back to Dublin safely, without a scratch, without a hitch.

Ireland was a great experience.