Feb 292024

Before we had the internet, if you were single and looking for Miss or Mr. Right, you didn’t have many choices if you didn’t feel like going to bars or churches, two popular meeting places for prospective partners. Back then, a lot of newspapers in both big cities and small towns had personal ads for people trying to find a match. Now, these were not like the personal ads that used to be on Craigslist (not that I ever looked, mind you). These were actual ads from people looking for love and trying to connect with somebody. Think of it as a print version of FarmersOnly.com. But in our case, we called the columns For Singles Only.

The way it worked is, you would place an ad, I believe it cost $5, and you would be assigned a blind box. For example, if you were box #32, someone who wanted to respond to your ad would write you a letter, enclose it in an envelope, write 32 on the outside, then put that envelope and $1 into another envelope and send or bring it to the newspaper. Then, once a week or however often they wanted to, the people who placed the ads could come by and pick up their envelopes. We always handled it discreetly, and I’m proud to say that in my newspapers in the Pacific Northwest and later in northern Arizona, there were several marriages that resulted.

But, as with anything in life, especially in the small-town newspaper business, there were some bizarre incidents that took place.

My first newspaper was a weekly in Grays Harbor County, Washington, which is at the base of the Olympic Peninsula. If you don’t know the Peninsula, it’s a beautiful place, and once you get north of Grays Harbor and few small towns, the interior was and still is both beautiful and wild; home to bears, mountain lions, deer, magnificent herds of elk, and more than a few really strange people.

One day, a young lady came into our office in Aberdeen to place a singles ad, and she looked rather attractive when I noticed her as I was doing something in my office. My secretary, Laurel, walked back to me and whispered, “You’ve got to come and see this woman.” I asked her why, and she said just to come and watch her mouth when she speaks. I didn’t really want to see somebody with bad teeth, but I figured I’d go look. Now, I’ve seen some bad dental conditions in my time, but what I saw there completely blew me away. First Laurel handed me the ad, which I read, and it said something like “Daughter of the moon wants to meet son of the earth for enchanted relationship and more. Must be open-minded and not afraid to experience new things.”

Okay, a little wacky, but not bad. I took the young lady’s money and told her we would have her ad in the next week’s issue, and she thanked me and smiled. I know I must have noticeably flinched. I don’t know how she did it, and I damn sure don’t know why, but as unbelievable as it sounds, every one of this woman’s teeth had been filed down to points. It was like she had a mouthful of canine teeth. Or a mouth like a cross-cut saw, top and bottom. I don’t know what she was looking for, but I sure hope she found it. And I’m sure glad it wasn’t me!

At another of my papers, this one back in the White Mountains in northern Arizona, a lady who looked to be in her mid-60s came in to place a singles ad, and she seemed to have a lot of trouble trying to figure out how to word it. My secretary and office manager, Melissa, went up front to see if she could help her, and I moseyed up just to see what was going on. The woman was telling Melissa that she wasn’t technically a widow yet, because her husband was in the hospital and probably had only a week to live, so she wasn’t sure if she should describe herself as soon-to-be-widow or just say widow, because he would probably be gone by the time the next issue of the paper came out. She told Melissa she did not want to mislead anybody, but at her age, she didn’t have time to waste. I don’t know what her first marriage was like, but I silently wished husband-to-be number two, or whatever number he was, good luck. I had a feeling he would need it.

And finally, in that same newspaper in northern Arizona, there was a man who ran a small business. He was a tall, gangly fellow who looked like the ultimate nerd, all the way down to his plastic pocket protector full of ink pens. He came in every two weeks to renew his ad, and it was rather different, shall we say? We had to clean it up from what he wanted to say, but basically the ad said something like “Tall single 35-year-old man with uniquely curved appendage wants to meet a woman looking for total satisfaction and long-term relationship.” He actually got a lot of replies, but I don’t know if any of them ever turned serious, because every two weeks he was back again to renew that ad! Or maybe we just had a whole lot of satisfied women running around town that I didn’t know about.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of my friend USA Today bestselling author Suzie O’Connell’s Starlight Magic, from her popular Northstar romance series. Two months after her husband’s violent death, Celeste is teetering on the edge, and she can’t engage in the art that was once her escape from the world. She desperately needs a tranquil place to rebuild herself. An extended visit with her friend in Northstar will give her that… and her charming new neighbor might give her something even better.

To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed. After 90 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us.

Thought For The Day – All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt. – Charles M. Schulz

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  One Response to “Newspaper Days – Looking For Love”

  1. I remember looking at those kinds of Ads after losing my wife to Cancer, but never responded to any. Luckily I met Kathy.
    She likes the thought of the day.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It’s about time.

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