Friday, May 29, 2015

People are similar wherever you go

People are similar wherever you go
"On Life and Love After 50" Newsletter
by Thomas P. Blake

Each Friday, I publish the On Life and Love After 50 Newsletter by email. I call my subscribers Champs, because that is what they are. Our Champs live across the USA and Canada, and in many foreign countries. Their living situations vary greatly. Some live in the same cities in which they grew up. Others, like Joanne, have lived in many different states.
In early April, 2015, before my partner Greta and I left on our trip to Europe, Joanne updated me about her living situation. She said, “I have lived all over the country and have enjoyed every minute. Right now, I am in Albuquerque and I like it here. I’m not considering moving again. I have met so many people and learned so much from them it has been a great experience.”
I responded to Joanne by asking: “How did you come to choose Albuquerque? From where before that? Is making friends there difficult?”
Joanne said, “I had never lived in New Mexico. I lived in Georgia, California, Texas, Nevada (Las Vegas), Hawaii, Arkansas, Michigan, North Carolina, Florida, and there may be a few more.
“Five years ago, a friend asked me if I wanted to move back to Georgia. Something was pushing me in that direction. When I got there, after a few months, I found out he had cancer. He has been a great friend and I was so glad I was there. It gave me a lot of time to spend with him before he passed away.
“On my way to Georgia from Las Vegas (he used to ‘talk’ me across the country), I told him I had never lived in New Mexico and thought I should at some point. I was born and raised in Michigan but never liked it.
“When I found this apartment in Albuquerque, I ‘jumped’ on it. I love it here and moved about eight weeks ago. (Now, it has been 16 weeks). I’m a ‘people person’ and never have much trouble meeting people. Everyone I have met so far seems nice, and, of course, I always have my radar up and working."
Joanne continued: People are the same everywhere you go. They have different faces and names but still the same traits. I keep saying if whatever you are looking for isn’t in Albuquerque, you probably don’t need it! At 70 now and thinking I should probably sit still. I’m sure you’ve noticed this too, but the farther west you go, the less uptight people are. I love the diversity in the people here too. Also, the Native American culture fascinates me and there is a lot of that here.”

I know of another woman Champ who also moved to Albuquerque; perhaps she and Joanne will get together sometime.
In reading Joanne’s email, I couldn’t help but think of the Johnny Cash song, “I’ve been everywhere.” In the song, Johnny rattles off the places he’s been including Albuquerque. That could be Joanne’s theme song.

(I traveled with Johnny Cash often in the 1970s when he did radio commercials for Victoria Station, the restaurant chain, for whom I was marketing director. For more information on Tom's association with Johnny, see the link at the end of this article)

But one thing Joanne said in her email really struck a chord with Greta and me: “People are the same everywhere you go.”

We have met many different people on our trip. Here we are in Germany, a country that our country was at war with some 70+ years ago. And yet, the people here, and in Hungary, and in Austria, where we’ve also been on this trip, are very similar to us. They want peace, love and harmony in the world.

Greta and I believe that as we travel these foreign lands, we can make a very small contribution to world harmony by being friendly, considerate, respectful and interested in what the local people have to say. We are tiny diplomats of peace in the world.
Two recent examples: On Sunday, in the pouring rain, we popped into a coffee shop in Bamberg, Germany, to escape the cold and wet. A young waitress, about 20 years old, was so excited when she found out that we were from California, she said, “Oh, I can’t believe this,” and was so friendly to us (the coffee shop was filled with young students) that we gave her our email address in case she wants to visit.

On Tuesday, Greta and I were walking across the Main Bridge in Wurzburg, Germany. Near the middle of the river, we sat on a concrete bench to enjoy the beauty around us--a large castle with vineyards growing on steep hills up to the castle, beautiful churches, river barges passing below on the river, stately Roman statues on the bridge--when we noticed near us a family--grandpa, grandma, son and granddaughter taking a bottle of Wurzburg-labeled champagne and crystal goblets out of their shopping bag. The son popped the cork.
We photographed them toasting on the bridge. They saw us. The older gentlemen asked me in German to take a picture with their camera. He started explaining in German what the occasion was. Then he asked where we were from. California. With that, he switched to broken English, very broken, and excitedly told us about his visit to the American west some 10 years before. His son came over and translated for us.

The older couple’s daughter was in Italy. It was her birthday. The man showed me the gift and card wrapped in bright yellow paper he had for her.
They had told her they would be toasting to her at that time on that bridge. They wanted a picture with us. It was a small-ambassador moment, very heartwarming; borders, war memories and language barriers were replaced with friendships and hand shaking.

The message today was inspired by Joanne’s email. Wherever we travel in the world, wherever we live, for the most part people are the same--they want love and harmony and peace in the world.
Enjoy more stories on
To read about Tom's friendship with Johnny Cash, visit this website:
     Tom's book: Prime Rib & Boxcars. Whatever Happened to Victoria Station?
                            Book cover: Tom and Johnny Cash in 1976
To read Tom's travel columns, go to this website: