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Thanks to all the Champs

On Life and Love after 50 reaches age 26. Thanks to all the Champs for helping to make it happen – August 9, 2019

by Tom P Blake

Dateline – Dublin, Ireland

Greta and I arrived in Dublin, Ireland, yesterday. We are on a 30-day trip. The first third of our trip will be traveling by bus with a tour group visiting many areas and cities in Ireland.

Then, in 10 days, we fly to Amsterdam and board a Holland America cruise ship, the MS Rotterdam, for a 20-day trip to Scotland, Iceland and Greenland. I will fill you in as best I can on the trip details in future eNewsletters.

But, in today’s article, I wanted to say thank you to all my Champs. Because of you, my writing career has entered its 26th year; I will explain how you’ve helped.

When my first “Middle Aged and Dating Again” newspaper column, titled, “Home Alone with Only Dog for Company,” was published, July 7, 1994, I had no idea how long my writing gig would last. I was writing from a recently divorced man’s point of view on the difficultly of middle-aged dating.

Before being hired, my two editors at the Dana Point News, Dixie and Sherrie, required me to submit four ready-to-be-published columns, which they said would be “put in the can.”

Honestly, when they said that, I seriously thought the columns might be put in the toilet. The editors quickly reassured me that “put in the can” meant they would be the first four columns used—a month’s worth.

At that point, I didn’t know if my writing career would last more than a month. I wasn’t sure if my readers would run out of questions, comments or interest. A columnist who writes a “Dear Abby” type of column, as mine has kind of evolved into, cannot maintain momentum without input from readers.

Back then, which was before the Internet, newspaper readers responded by leaving voice messages on answering machines and writing letters.

As the Internet grew, newspaper readers responded less to printed articles. So, I started an online eNewsletter around 2003 called “Finding Love after 50,” which put me more directly in communication with my readers; it was easy for them to just hit reply on their computers.

After a while, to create an alternate source of income, I charged $15 per year for the newsletter.

But, about 10 years ago, I wanted to expand the scope of the eNewsletter to beyond just dating issues. I changed the name to “On Life and Love after 50” and decided to stop charging for it.

Because I felt a deep connection with my eNewsletter readers, I wanted to adopt a name for you. After all, many of you have been brave enough to share your thoughts, experiences, opinions, knowledge, stories and emotions with people, most of whom you’ve never met. You were more than just readers.

Your comments open the doors for me for column ideas. I appreciate your trust in me; you’ve taught me a great deal.

One day, as I listened to Jackson Browne singing, “The Load Out and Stay,” the name hit me. In that song, Browne pays tribute to the roadies who load and offload his equipment when he is on tour.

He sings, “…when it comes to moving me, you know you guys are the champs…” And, that’s where the name Champs came from. The link to that song is at the end of today’s eNewsletter.

I am blessed to still be writing for newspapers, again thanks to you Champs for providing me with the material. I write for three newspapers in Southern California and six in Pennsylvania and use what you’ve sent me for the papers as well.

In this era dominated by online social media, print newspaper columnists are a dying breed. Newspapers are closing their doors in droves.

In a quarter century of writing, I’ve inked approximately 4,000 newspaper columns and eNewsletters. So, my uncertainty in 1994 about lasting for more than a month as a writer, turned out to be silly, but, of course, I didn’t know it at the time.

And I certainly, back then, could not foresee that I would publish four books, and make appearances on the Today Show and Good Morning America.

Thanks, Champs, for helping make all of that possible.

I’ll try to give you an Ireland update next week. Now, where is that Guiness Stout factory. I hear their beer is pretty good.

 On Life and Love

The link to the classic 1978 performance of The Load Out And Stay (it’s 9 minutes and 24 seconds long) Remember to hit “Skip Ad”

Reminder: The Meet and Greet show will go on this month at Tutor and Spunky’s Deli in Dana Point, Thursday, August 22, 5 to 7 p.m. Our lovely Champ, Maria, will oversee the event. Please lend her a hand.

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