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How a newspaper ad changed my life A newspaper love storyPosted Wednesday, June 29, 2011, at 10:27 AM
Editor's note: There was a TV movie from 1984 called "A Good Sport." It was a sports/love story about a New York newspaper columnist (played by Ralph Waite) and a fashion designer (Lee Remick). Despite their apparent differences (he loved sports, she hated them), they fell in love. Near the end of the movie, she broke up with him because of fear of committment, which prompted a column. It was not his normal writings about the Yankees or Mets, but he focused on how a relationship takes at least as much work, courage, fortitude, sacrifice, luck and devotion as it does to be successful in sports. That and his professed love for her in his syndicated column made for a happy ending. My story takes a similar path.
How a newspaper ad changed my life
A newspaper love story
Newspapers and love are two words that are rarely, if ever, in the same sentence. I did know a guy who said he loved the feel and smell of his morning newspaper, but that is another story.
I may be one of the few guys on the planet that can truly say that a newspaper ad changed his life. I am sure that people have found that perfect job in the classifieds, but my story is much more unlikely.
It was back in December 1989 and I confired bachelor working as the sports editor at the Sullivan Daily Times.
In the days before the Internet, you had to have a newspaper in your hands to be able to read it. My mother subscribed to the daily newspaper in Indianapolis.
She knew I wanted to keep up with the Pacers and Colts and what not, so she saved the sports sections for me to pick up or she would mail them when I could not come and visit for awhile.
Depending on how the paper was put together, the classified section was sometimes on the back on the sports pages.
I would usually glance, hoping for a job closer to where I grew up or trying to get a better car (something that is still part of my life).
Long before the days of match.com or eharmony or other computer dating service, there was a new item in the Indianapolis Star and Indianapolis News called "Personals Plus."
Right there in-between help wanted or autos for sale, you could try to find the love of your life. Ha, like that was going to happen.
For about $20 or so, you could put in an ad and they would assign you a blind box number that suitors could write a response trying to impress you.
They would print your ad a couple of times and then forward mail for two weeks from the last time it was published. It was very discreet in the days before caller ID. You could meet at a neutral site over coffee and see if you were interested.
So just after the New Year, I got a batch of papers from home. So in the middle of reading how woeful the Pacers were, one of those stupid personal ads caught my eye.
It read: SW pretty lady, 32, med. build, romantic, loyal, unique, fun loving enjoys reading, camping, cooking, quiet times, symphonies to Rock N Roll seeks SWPM who is a sensitive explorer for sunrises and surprises. Photo, phone, address. Star and News Box N-7466. (Before you ask, S is for single, W = White, P = Professional, W = Woman and M = Male).
Needless to say, I was a bit intrigued, but I had one problem. It has already been 12 days since the last time it was in the paper.
So working under deadline pressure (one of my better traits), I cranked out a letter that talked me being a CWB (Chunky White Boy) with limited skills that I couldn't dance. After I mailed it, I really didn't think about it much as I went about my business of covering high school boys and girls basketball games.
It was probably a week or so later before I realized what I had done. I had a message on my answering machine from the author of the ad - Patricia June Hargis.
I returned her call and we talked for three hours without struggling for something to say. Come to find out, my letter was the last one that she opened.
We met in her home town - New Castle - a couple of weeks later and seven months later we were married, on a 95-degree August day at Memorial Park in New Castle, an hour east of Indy.
Almost two years after that, we were blessed with the birth of our only child - Taylor June Hargis.
Trish, my wife of 20-plus years until her death earlier this year on March 4, used to always joke about how we met.
"I got me a husband for $22.50," she said while trying to do her best hillbilly imitation.
Even at that, I am not sure what kind of bargain she got.
My wife, who one time read a book when we went to a Pacer game, was not a sports fan, which made our love connection even less likely. She once said I can't even ask my husband how his day went because he will talk about sports.
As for me, I am left with gems like that and memories of many other moments that her sense of humor produced, all the while still grateful for that silly little newspaper ad and how it altered the course of my life.
B.J. Hargis is the sports editor at the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached at (812) 847-4487, ext. 12 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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