A Reunion with Rosanne Cash

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter –  March 13, 2020
A Reunion with Rosanne Cash, an elegant, long-time friend
by Columnist Tom Blake

On Saturday night, March 7, I had a reunion with an elegant, long-time friend. I’ve written about her before, after seeing her at previous reunions. This reunion was so special, I was moved to share it with readers.

Don’t get the wrong idea. My partner of 22 years, Greta, was at my side. And as a special treat to me, so were my sisters Pam and Christine.

The reunion took place at the intimate and wonderful Poway Center for the Performing Arts, located in the quaint city of Poway, California, 23 miles northeast of San Diego, and about an hour’s drive from our home in south Orange County.

And why do I refer to it as a reunion? Because I’ve known this woman for 43 years, met her when she was about 21. Her name is Rosanne Cash, a multi-Grammy Award winner, and a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

And if her last name has a familiar ring, it’s because Rosanne is the eldest daughter of the late Johnny Cash. That connection is how I met her.

In the mid-1970s, when I was the marketing director for the boxcar and caboose Victoria Station restaurant chain, I hired Johnny and worked with him for two years. He was our company spokesperson and sang our radio commercials. I also co-produced the Destination Victoria Station record album with Johnny Cash.

Needless to say, on the album, Johnny did 99.9 percent of the work; I just approved the songs that were featured on the album. He did the singing.

In July 1989, my sister Pam and I were photographed with Johnny, at Humphreys by the Bay in San Diego, a cozy concert venue next to the water with a plethora of yachts berthed alongside.

                    Tom                    Johnny Cash          Pam Blake Peters

July 19, 1989,  at Humphreys by the Bay – San Diego

When I published “Middle Aged and Dating Again,” my first book in 1997, Johnny endorsed the back cover with these words:

“In the 20 years I have known Tom Blake, he has become an authority on dating and relationships.”

I’m not sure how Johnny knew that, but I happily accepted his endorsement.

Because my sister Pam was with us last Saturday night, I printed out a copy of that 31-year-old photo of us with Johnny and gave it to Rosanne backstage after the show Saturday night.

Handing the above photo to Rosanne

Minutes later, a new photo was taken of Pam, Chris, Rosanne, me and Greta.

             Pam         Christine     Rosanne     Tom      Greta

March 7, 2020, Poway Center for the Performing Arts

In the last ten years, Greta and I have seen Rosanne, along with her husband/co-writer/producer and arranger John Leventhal, in concert five times, including last Saturday.

When Leventhal saw us backstage Saturday night, he said, “And who are you guys?” I surmised that Rosanne hadn’t briefed John that the Blake clan would be visiting backstage.

                 John Leventhal and Tom’s sister Christine

The Poway Center for the Performing Arts is a fun place in which to see a concert. It’s small, 797 seats. The ushers are pleasant, friendly and helpful. Michael Rennie, President and CEO of Poway OnStage, greeted us warmly and was accommodating by leading us backstage after the performance.

Check out their website for upcoming shows: www.PowayOnStage.org. And, unheard of these days, the parking is free!

The audience was mesmerized by Rosanne. Her voice is clear and beautiful. Her stage presence and mannerisms are gentle and polished. Her songs are personal, sang as if she’s telling a story that she experienced.

Leventhal is a master guitar player and joins in on limited vocals. He and Rosanne have been married 25 years. They have fun together on stage. They played without an intermission for 90 minutes.

It’s evident that Rosanne loves the United States; she mentioned unity for our country several times. My sisters were deeply moved by her performance.

She sang “Ode to Billie Joe,” as beautifully as Bobbie Gentry did, when Gentry made it a hit in 1967. At the song’s conclusion, Rosanne said, “That song was recorded 53-years-ago, and people are still trying to figure out what Billie Joe was throwing off the Tallahatchie Bridge.” Her comment triggered a huge laugh from the audience.

Rosanne’s rendition of “The Long Black Veil” was spellbinding. She sang “Tennessee Flat Top Box,” which her dad wrote, and she performed “Sea of Heartbreak,” an old Don Gibson tune.

She ended the concert with her 1981 hit song “Seven Year Ache.”

The applause brought she and hubby John back for an encore; she sang “Wayfaring Stranger” from the Ken Burns 2019 Country Music documentary, a tune her father had also made popular.

Add a future Rosanne Cash concert to your bucket list, it will be one of the most enjoyable 90 minutes of your life.

Her website: www.RosanneCash.com.

This article appeared in an edited version of the online edition of the San Clemente Times newspaper on March 18, 2020. Scroll to page 17http://www.sanclementetimes.com


Three-dot journalism

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – April 26, 2019 – Three-dot journalism – Spraying to all fields

by Tom P Blake – Orange County, California, columnist

Today’s e-Newsletter reminds me of former San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen. He was a San Francisco icon, who wrote columns for 60 years. His was the longest-running column in the United States. He wrote between five and seven columns per week, totaling–in the neighborhood of–16,000 columns. He often referred to his columns as “three-dot journalism.”

I admired his “three-dot journalism,” (as he defined it), style of writing. His comments were often not complete sentences, but crisp, clear and interesting. He was a gossip columnist. If he mentioned you by name, you’d be famous in maybe a good way, or a not-so-good way.

His mention about people patronizing San Francisco’s Victoria Station restaurant, the restaurant chain for which I worked eight years, virtually launched Victoria Station into becoming the fastest-growing chain in the United States for a period of time in the 1970s.

On occasion, Caen would describe a column as “Spraying to all fields,” which referred to hitters in baseball who would hit to all fields, meaning his column that day was all over the place, covering a plethora of topics or comments, often not related to each other, with three dots…between items.

1994 photo of Herb Caen with one of his famed “Loyal Royal”  typewriters, upon which he typed 16,000 columns
(photo courtesy of Nancy Wong)
At the end of today’s e-Newsletter, there is a link to Wikipedia’s description of Herb Caen.Today’s column reminds me of one of Caen’s “Spraying to all fields” columns; it covers five different items. It’s dedicated to Herb Caen.

               1 Helpful online dating tips from two Champs

Champ A – Cheryl, “I want to add one note about Meetup.com groups. They are not always free. Some are held in facilities that require rent, some serve food, etc., and those places ask for a contribution, although it’s usually minimal.”

(And a reminder from Tom: Meetup.com is not a dating site, but a great place to meet and make new friends. And then, who knows where those new friendships might lead?)

Cheryl added, “Another tip about long-distance relationships: People should maximize the time it takes to know someone by communication through face-time, and telephone a LOT, between in-person visits.

Champ B – Chris, “I have been reading the letters from your Champs, about the problems and questions they have when meeting someone, a distance away. As I read the questions, I kept thinking: Why don’t they just Skype the other person?

“Then, you can better see what and who you are dealing with. I know over my long life (Chris is 84), I more than once have fallen in love with a voice, only to be disappointed because the voice didn’t match my vision of this person.

“I’m wondering, could it be that some of our Champs don’t know about Skype?

First, let me tell them, IT IS FREE! Yes, FREE (after some possible, minimal, set up costs mentioned below).

“Tina (my partner of 14 years and now my wife) and I have been using Skype for over 10 years. When she is in England, and I am in the states, we Skype every day. I call her at 12:30 p.m., my time, and she is sitting waiting for my call at 8:30 p.m. her time. We can see each other and talk for hours. It is almost as good as being there, except we can’t touch.

“This would be the answer for your Champs who are talking to someone on the phone, but still are doubtful about what to do and how to handle the situation.

Setting Skype up on a computer is easy, and it only costs about $25 for the camera and the wires. (Most new computers already have built in cameras). After that it is free. I have it on my computer, and, Tina has it set up on her Ipad. My daughter has it on her cell phone; she and I talk that way when I am in England.

So, my advice–to the lonely widow who has met Mr. Wonderful on line, or, that lonely old guy who is sure he has met the love of his life–is: after you’ve spent time talking on the phone, or emailing, and you are thinking about travelling a good distance to meet them, or sending them money for a plane ticket, start Skyping them first.

“You will learn a lot about the person you are in touch with, when you see them while you talk. You could be pleasantly surprised or you could save yourself from a major disappointment.”

               2 Popular dating site warning

From a male Champ who requested to remain anonymous: “After reading last week’s e-Newsletter (about senior online dating sites), I simply felt responsible to relate what I and several friends have encountered on a certain senior dating site, upon which my membership has been long-since cancelled.

“This website has the most hackers and scammers of all of the dating sites. When I was on the site, a hacker took over my profile, presented himself as me…messaging women, asking for their direct emails, then going after them for money…so many grisly tales of attempted scams…

“Many of the women and men on the site are not the actual person whose picture is posted on the profile.

“My computer guru installed a new super security program on my personal computer due to the scammer hacking my personal computer.

“The site is a dangerous dating site Tom ….

“A caution is simply to never provide your direct email. If, and when, you are persuaded this person is real, you can talk on the phone. Unfortunately, often the person barely speaks English. Plus, a red balloon is when there are misspelled words in their messages and/or incorrect sentence structure.”

While our anonymous Champ was referring to a specific senior dating site–he requested not to mention it by name, even though we’ve identified it previously–what happened to him on it could happen on any dating site. For gosh sake, please be careful when online dating, regardless of which site you use.

                          3 Why wait so long to meet in person?

A couple of weeks ago, we wrote about a widower who was planning to meet a widow face-to-face who lived 845 miles away. Many of you suggested he meet someone closer to where he lives.

About the same time, I heard from a widow in New York state who lives a little over an hour away from him, and, I suggested to her that she contact him. She did. Now, they talk on the phone and plan to meet face-to-face in late June.

My question: why wait so long? That’s two months away. At the least, do what either Chris or Cheryl suggested above. See each other via Skype or face time on the phone. That might save disappointment before they meet in person.

However, I guess there is no rush to meet in person, IF,  just being in contact with the other person eliminates the loneliness they both feel. Then, maybe it doesn’t matter to either what the other one looks like, or how they present themselves, or that the other person may not even be who he or she claims to be.

                                      4 Next week’s e-Newsletter

I am planning to write about whether it’s important or not for senior singles to have a written list of the qualities they seek in a mate.

Plus, perhaps, some daters may even have a separate written list of the habits or characteristics in a person that would be deal-breakers. Smoking, for example.

If any of you want to share your list(s) or your thoughts about having a list, I’d love to hear from you.

5 Herb Caen and three-dot journalism information…

Link to Wikipedia’s page about Herb Caen…


One more item about Herb. While I was married to a woman named Debbe, she became Herb Caen’s secretary. That was pretty heady stuff. People would say, “Your wife is Herb Caen’s secretary? Wow…”

As I recall, it wasn’t always a dream job. He was pretty demanding…

…Here’s to you, Herb. We are toasting an Irish Coffee to you at the world-famous Buena Vista Café in San Francisco, where the Powell /Hyde Cable car turns around, and the view from there of Alcatraz, and where it’s rumored that you had more than one or two of those Irish Coffees…

What do unwed senior couples call themselves? Part 2

September 7, 2018

Responses to what do unwed senior couples call themselves

My gosh, I received a bunch of responses to last week’s eNewsletter on what unwed couples living together, age 50+ couples call themselves. The responses were so good, I wanted to share some of them with you.

Kaitte responded with her suggestions, including her favorite:

“This is my Lady, this is my Man.”
“Mon Amour, French, meaning, Love of My Life,” (Kaitte’s favorite).
“My Partner.”
“My Best Half.”
“My Life Mate.”
“My Sweetheart.”
“Significant Other.”
“My Companion, Helpmate.”
“My Reason for Living.”
“My True Love.”
All Italian: “Amore Mia, Tesoro Mia, Cuore Mia, Cara/Caro Mia.”

Tom’s comment: As I pondered Kaitte’s list, I realized some were song titles or words from songs: “Cara Mia,” Jay and the Americans; “There Goes My Reason for Living, Engleburt Humperdinck; and “My True Love,” (an early 1950’s classic by Jack Scott, see link below). And the classic 1953 Dean Martin song, “That’s Amore.”

Art, Fla., “I enjoyed this article, since many of our friends are unwed senior couples. Joanie is 73 and I just turned 80. We’ve been together five years.

When I introduce her to friends who have not met her, I simply introduce her as “Joanie.” If I am referring to her with people who do not know her, I call her “My lady friend.”

I have never been asked if we are married, but most strangers assume that we are married. I see no need to complicate things, and just go on with the conversation.”

Trixie emailed: “This topic is mighty familiar. The only answer I’ve ever used that I like is, “He’s my main squeeze.” That isn’t an expression younger people are familiar with. I’m still refining my answers to suit the setting.

I notice my main squeeze seldom answers such questions. But several times he has said, “Friend.” Really? Hmmm.

Such questions can unintentionally call up personal issues the questioner isn’t aware of.

Repeat offenders get this from me: ‘He ISN’T my husband! We’re not married!’ (And as one restaurateur countered, ‘Really? Why not?’)

On cruise ships: open seating, same as you and Greta. We eat with different people almost every night. They just want to be correct, so my answers are not disputed.

Bonus story: we struck up a conversation with a young man at a cruise ship bar. He said he was traveling with his Father-in-law. A sentence later, he was waiting for his girlfriend to join him. That’s OK! Maybe we oldies aren’t The only ones without clear labels.”

Note from Tom: Hard to juggle—having a wife and a girlfriend on the same cruise ship-it better be a mighty large ship!

Trixie added, “Finally, loved your Sea View Pharmacy San Clemente story. We have a similar pharmacy, and a very special pharmacist. He has a gift for not caring about customers’ marital status, it’s never come up. In medical situations, I introduce my main squeeze as, ‘My friend, Main Squeeze.’ It’s never been questioned.”

Carmen, my Jackson High School, Jackson, Michigan, classmate, who lives in Mexico: “I introduce Karen as “My Lady.” She calls me “Carmen.” (his true name).

But we wear gold bands, so people almost never ask.

After a few months together, there was such a big smile on her face that I didn’t want her running around appearing to be unattached. So, I asked if she would let me buy her a gold band. She agreed.

The next day, she asked if I would wear one, too. How could I say no? I gave her a diamond ring on our 2nd anniversary.”

Champs Carmen and Karen reside in Mexico

Tom comment: Awe shucks, Carmen, in the 60+ years we’ve known each other, you’ve always been a romantic dude.

Marilyn: “I was married for five years and last year we got a divorce mainly due to issues his family had with our marriage. Should not have been their business but he did not stand up to them on my behalf at the time. We are together now as? We get along a lot better now than when we were married. We travel and spend time together and still love each other. We are platonic.

What would you call us? Ex-wifey, past partner, semi-spouse (liked that one), or what? For simplicity, I just say my husband and people accept that. Any help would be appreciated on a creative introduction name.

Tom’s suggestion: “A DBTFC.” (Divorced back together for convenience)

Linda, “Craig and I have been Registered Domestic Partners for the last five years. We have been together for 18 years. The State of California recognizes it like a marriage but the Feds have just recently been catching on.

I am on his employer-paid medical insurance. It works for us. It’s an easy form to fill out and have notarized and sent to the State. The requirements: one of us needed to be at least 62.”

Tom’s comment: So, do you introduce him as your “Registered Domestic Partner?”

Lisa, “I like the semi-spouse with the hyphen, but also wanted to mention what a friend calls her live-in partner:

‘My undocumented husband.’ This may be met with raised eyebrows or worse in our heavily, politically-correct society, but it is said with a smile and is definitely tongue-in-cheek.

I wish that people would stop being so easily offended at every little thing and regain a sense of humor. It makes life so much better.”

Lynne, “I vote for ‘My Best Friend.’ That’s who I thought of my 20-year partner Joe as. We were together by choice, not a piece of paper or a ceremony.

I believe we were ‘Soul Mates.’ I felt like I’d found the person I’d dreamed of meeting and he felt the same. On our first date, he held my hand and it apparently joined our spirits.”

Mick, a co-worker with me at the Victoria Station Restaurant Chain in the 1970s, said: “I introduce Mary Ann as ‘My sweetheart.’ She likes it. Others accept it. Few ask the follow up question for specifics.

The details don’t matter much these days. I think most people understand there are an infinite number of permutations that fall under the broader concept of ‘committed couple.’”

Sarah, “In the end, what difference does it make? Whose business is it other than the couples? I love the idea of keeping it simple.”

And the winner is? Whatever term fits your situation and feels natural to you. Lots of ideas in today’s article. For me, I like significant other best. It’s worked for 20 years.

You tube link to “My True Love” Jack Scott, a 1950s classic: