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By Tom Blake
In 26 years of writing newspaper columns, I’ve heard many warm-your-heart senior love stories. Today, I share with you one of the best.
In 1995, when I owned Tutor and Spunky’s, my Dana Point deli, a customer, Joe L. Brown, and I had become good friends. We talked a lot about baseball; we talked about senior romance.
Why baseball? Joe knew a lot about the subject. He was the general manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates for 21 years, from November 1955 until the end of 1976. Under Joe’s leadership, the Pirates won two World Series in 1960 and 1971.
Joe’s father was the famous comedian and actor, Joe E. Brown.
Why did Joe L. and I discuss senior romance? He had a love story, which he shared with me.
Joe explained that in November 1990, at age 72, he lived in Dana Point, a widower of 13 months. He missed his wife of 45 years.
Joe believed he would remain single the rest of his life. No one—he was convinced—could fill the emptiness he felt. As a favor, he would escort women friends to functions, but he had no interest in becoming involved.
For Thanksgiving dinner in 1990, Joe was invited to a friend’s home in Coronado. Joe was seated next to a woman named Paulita. Coincidentally, they both had attended Beverly Hills High School, but did not know each other because Joe was two years older.
Joe said, “We talked for hours. I had been shot through the heart with a love-arrow, but was disappointed to learn that Paulita was leaving for Mexico in two days for the winter.”
That night, Joe confided to a friend: “I’ve fallen in love, but she’s leaving in two days.”
“Call her first thing tomorrow; tell her you want to see her before she goes,” the friend insisted.
The next morning, Joe and Paulita made a date for that night. When Joe picked her up at her San Diego home, he said, “There’s something I’m going to tell you.”
“What is it?” Paulita said.
“I’ll tell you during dinner,” Joe replied.
The restaurant was a few miles away in La Jolla. In the car, Paulita kept asking, “What is it?”
“I’ll tell you during dinner,” Joe repeated.
Paulita had no idea what he was going to say.
Finally, after ordering beverages, Joe mustered the courage. He said, “Yesterday, I fell in love with you. I want to be with you.”
“Aren’t we going a little fast?” Paulita asked.
“At our age, we don’t have a lot of time. May I visit you in Mexico after the holidays?”
“Yes!” Paulita exclaimed.
The next morning, Joe called Paulita: “Be safe. I love you.”
He called her that night to ensure she arrived without incident.
Then, he called his son and daughter.
He said, “I’ve fallen in love.”
They said, “Dad, you’re kidding.”
He said, “Even old people can fall in love. Love doesn’t come out; it escapes.”
Joe and Paulita talked twice a day by phone. A few days later, he said, “I can’t wait until after the holidays. I want to see you tomorrow.”
“Great!” she said. Joe flew to see her the next day. In the eight days he stayed in Mexico, he proposed to Paulita. She accepted.
After Christmas in California with his children, Joe visited Paulita for another 12 days. They set a wedding date.
In February 1991, Joe and Paulita married.
Before they left for Mexico together in 1995, Joe said to me, “I love Paulita as much now as I did four years ago.”
Years later, Paulita passed away. Joe moved to Albuquerque to be near his daughter, Cynthia. He died at 91 on Aug. 10, 2010.
A month later, Cynthia telephoned to thank me for being such a great friend of her dad’s. Her call touched me deeply. He was a great man.
Tom Blake is a retired Dana Point business owner and San Clemente resident who has authored books on middle-aged dating. See his website at findingloveafter50.com. To comment, email firstname.lastname@example.org.