Valentine’s day, sad for some seniors

Valentine’s Photo over Dana Point – Feb 5, 2022, by Tom Blake
On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletterFebruary 12, 2022

2022 eNewsletter #6

by Tom Blakeauthor and columnist

Part I- Responses to last week’s Super Bowl II eNewsletter

I was floored by the number of responses to last week’s eNewsletter. So many great ones. Several Champs shared similar memory stories, including Rick O., who attended Super Bowl I, which happened to be in Los Angeles.

Two Champs encouraged me to check the collector’s item value of the ticket stub from Super Bowl II. I did. Ebay showed the same game ticket selling for between $1,000 to $2,700. I’ll see about that.

Another Champ, Joel, found an update on stewardess queen Patty Poulsen. Sadly, Patty passed away three years ago at age 75. She would have been 78 if she were attending this year’s game.

There was no word on Jill Spavin, the other world stewardess queen (that’s what they were called back then, now it’s flight attendant).And because today we’re mixing the Super Bowl topic with the Valentine’s Day topic, I wanted to mention a Facebook posting that landed in my inbox. It read:

“A good buddy of mine has 2 Super Bowl tix, 40-yard-line box seats. He paid $8,500 each but he didn’t realize when he bought them that the game was going to be on the same day as his wedding. He didn’t think he’d land the tickets, but his order went through!“He’s looking for someone to take his place. If you’re interested, it’s at Calvary Church in San Clemente at 3 p.m. The bride’s name is Nicole. She’s 5’4”, about 115 lbs., and a good cook too. She’ll be in the white dress and holding a bouquet of flowers.”  

PART 2: VALENTINES 2022 Valentine’s Day, sad for some seniors

The photo above of the heart in the sky was taken last Saturday on the patio of our Dana Point, Calif. home. Greta (my sig. other) and I were sitting outside with her grandson, Andre, his wife Lindsay, and Greta’s most recent great-grandchild (#4), Isabella. We all agreed, it was a Valentine’s greeting sent to us by a friendly sky-writing pilot. I grabbed my phone to snap the photo.

Champs sometimes ask, “What do you get Greta for Valentine’s Day?” I reply, “Nothing.” Sounds cold–and unromantic–doesn’t it? But here’s the deal. Greta and I met in 1998 and have been together ever since. Meeting her is the best thing that ever happened to me. We’ve had a quarter-century of incredible experiences together.

Kris Kristofferson wrote a song that describes how I feel about having Greta in my life. Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again)  (the link to this song is listed at the end of today’s article).

I mean, the trips we’ve had together: Spain, Italy, France, Ireland, Denmark, Estonia, Greenland, Canada, England, all of South America, Russia, Japan, China, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Monte Carlo, the xxx Islands, Greece, Turkey, India, Nepal, Casa Blanca, Germany, Austria, Hawaii, Alaska, and several in the contiguous USA as well.

What have we missed? The south of Africa and Antarctica. That’s about it.

For us, every day has been Valentine’s Day. So, we don’t make a big deal about February 14.

I don’t write glowing love stories about Valentine’s Day. Never have. The reason: in the 50-to-90 age range, there are many singles who have lost or don’t have a significant other and for them, Valentine’s Day can be a bit of a downer.

I don’t write about a dozen red roses here, a box of chocolates there, a romantic dinner in some five-star restaurant, or cuddling in front of a fireplace. How would stories like those make our lonely Champs feel? Empty. I don’t want to add to those feelings.

For many singles without a partner, Valentine’s Day can’t end soon enough.
I’m particularly sad today for many of our Champs. Geody’s husband Richard passed a few months ago. He was an incredible man–loved, admired, and respected in Dana Point—and she’s a rock. Strong as she can be. A hell of a trooper. She’s got wonderful children and grandchildren. You can’t find a finer person in the world than Geody. Great attitude.

For Champ Donna, a special education teacher, her mate Bob, who helped me when I was a columnist for the Orange County Register 20 years ago, passed late last year. She’s trying to heal and feel better. She’s an incredible woman as well. Greta was a Special Education teacher for 32 years. That profession requires a strong, caring, loving, and giving person, which Donna is. Valentine’s Day will be subdued this year for her.

Our neighbor, Mike, who lives a couple of blocks away in our community, entered my life in the 1990s. He and his wife Jane opened a UPS shipping business two blocks away from my deli. They were wonderful deli customers and salt-of-the-earth citizens as well.

Unbeknownst to Greta and me, Jane passed in September. One night after I had held a book signing, Greta and I were driving home. We saw Mike walking his Labrador Retriever. We stopped, and yelled, “How are you doing?”He was subdued and said, “Did you know that Jane passed away two weeks ago?” 

Greta and I were stopped in our shoes. We didn’t know. He had tried to send me an email to notify me, but it had the wrong letters in the address, so I didn’t receive it.

Mike said, “Jane was my everything.” Greta and I were devasted by the news. We admired and loved her. She was a delightful person. Mike’s pain was evident. Valentine’s in 2022 will be hard for him.

We have a Champ named Terry. He’s normally funny. Not so this Valentine’s Day. His wife seems to be withdrawing. I feel bad for him.

And then there’s Jo, Greta’s daughter Tina’s mother-in-law. Jo’s a widow of fewer than two years—one of the kindest women I’ve ever met. Although she was still dealing with her loss last year when my brother passed away, she mailed me a hand-written condolence letter. It really moved me. Jo reminds me of my Mom.

Bruce, a high school classmate, and lifelong friend has been a widower for several years. He has chosen to remain single and focus on his grandchildren. This year the Super Bowl will have more meaning to him than the day after (Valentine’s). He’s lived in Cincinnati for years. The Bengals are in the big game.

Champs Sid and Les are having serious health issues that will make Valentine’s Day a bummer. These situations are a few reasons why I don’t write about how special Valentine’s Day is. However, to ensure you don’t think I’m a complete Valentine’s scrooge, here are two photos of a home in Dana Point that warms the hearts of Dana Point residents.

The owner loves Valentine’s Day, and it certainly shows.

Perhaps we should create a day–for the day after Valentine’s Day–and call it “Hope Day.” That would bring happiness to all of us. I love you Champs, more than you know. Link to Kris Kristofferson’s song, “Loving Her Was Easier”
blue lantern valentine house
Dana Point California home
valentines blue lantern
The same Dana Point California home

Looking back: Super Bowl II

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter February 5, 2022

2022 eNewsletter #5

by Tom Blake – author and columnist


pre game floats
1968 TWO FLOATS ON THE FIELD DURING PRE-GAME – a Packer and a Raider (photo by Tom Blake)
American Airlines world stewardess queens–Patty Poulsen and Jill Spavin before the kickoff at Super Bowl II (photo by Tom Blake)
Patty, Jill, and George Mira (in beige turtle neck)photo by Tom Blake
On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter February 5, 2022

2022 eNewsletter #5

by Tom Blake – author and columnist


As next week’s Super Bowl LVI (56) approaches, I can’t help but think back to 1968, 54 years ago. I was a regional manager of public relations for American Airlines, working at the company’s headquarters at 633 Third Avenue in New York City.

On January 10, 1968, four days before Super Bowl II, my boss, Holmes Brown, the Vice President of Public Relations, summoned me to his office. He said, “Tom, I just got off the phone with the president of American Express. He invited our two world stewardess queens, Patty Poulsen and Jill Spavin, to be the guests of American Express this weekend at the Super Bowl festivities in Miami.

“I can’t allow Patty and Jill to go alone. I need an American Airlines escort to go with them to be sure they are safe and treated with respect and dignity. As the only single man in our department, I would like you to go. Will you do it?”

“Love to,” I said, trying to act cool and calm, although I couldn’t believe my ears at the opportunity. He patted me on the back and handed me five one-hundred-dollar bills, saying: “All expenses are pre-paid, however, I want you to have money in case you need to pick up a tab. I want American Airlines to always look good.”

On Friday night, Patty, Jill, and I flew from Newark Airport on Eastern Airlines to Miami. A representative from Amex picked us up at the airport and took us to the hotel. For the next three days, my focus was to keep them safe (and trust me, only that!). As you can see on the ticket stub shown above, the official name of the game was the “World Championship Game, AFL VS NFL” and it was held on Sunday, January 14, at the Orange Bowl in Miami.

(Shortly thereafter, Lamar Hunt, owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, recommended the name retroactively be changed to “The Super Bowl,” which was quickly adopted by the two leagues. Of course, it was an incredible weekend.

I remember the three of us riding to the game on a bus chartered by American Express. I was in the back of the bus sitting next to a young kid named Mike Garrett, the 1965 Heisman Trophy winner. He was at that time a running back for the Kansas City Chiefs who years later became the athletic director of USC for 17 years. He asked me what was in the cooler on the back seat of the bus.

I said, “Chilled beer.” Garrett said, “Oh, I wanted a Coca-Cola.”Patty, Jill, and I sat on the 50-yard line in the Orange Bowl with George Mira, a former University of Miami All-American and San Francisco 49ers quarterback.

Several of Mira’s admirers stopped by to greet him; they seemed curious about Patty and Jill who looked beautiful. (See above the photo of Patty and Jill and a photo of them seated next to George Mira–I took both photos).

Things have changed since then. The 1968 ticket stub shows a cost of $12. This year, 50-yard-line seats are going for more than $10,000.

There were two portable stages wheeled onto the field before the kickoff. Each team was represented by a 15-foot player in uniform standing on a float. Each figure appeared to be spewing steam from its mouth even though the temperature was in the low 80s. (see picture above)The Green Bay Packers beat the Oakland Raiders, 33-14. Vince Lombardi was the Packers head coach; John Madden was the Raiders linebacker coach.

A year later, Madden became the Raiders head coach for nine years.It’s hard to believe that there have been 54 Super Bowls since that experience. I always chuckle when I watch the Super Bowl and wonder how Patty and Jill are doing.

P.S. Two months later, on March 8, 1968, Patty and Jill were featured in the People section of Time Magazine with a nice writeup and photo of them together. (See article below) 
time magazine 1968