Retirees Anonymous: It’s never too late to make lasting friendships
By Matt Larson
Retirement is a goal most people have, but not everyone achieves. We work hard now so that we can play hard later, but things change as time goes on.
“You will find, when you retire, the friends you know, or the friends you worked with—suddenly you’re in a new world called ‘retirement’ and you have to find a new set of friends,” said retiree Alan Blavins. After 40 years as a creative director in the advertising business, he settled down in West County.
“I didn’t know anybody in the area,” he said. And then he came across Sons in Retirement, a social group for older men. 10 years later he’s one of their most active members, and currently serves as their president/chairman, which they refer to as the Big Sir. “Basically, we’re a group of guys, we meet every month for lunch, then we have a speaker,” he said. “We have no religion, we’re not trying to raise money for anything, it’s just a group of retired men.”
Simple as that. No pressure, casual atmosphere, come and go as you please. Meetings are optional as you aren’t obligated to attend, dues are $20 for the year but it’s more of a suggestion than a requirement. It’s a pretty laid-back group, which is generally the vibe you’d want when you’ve reached retirement age.
They’ve been meeting at the Galileo Club in Richmond for the past 5 years and recently moved to La Strada in San Pablo. They have about 45 active members and men of any age are welcome to join. Their youngest member is currently in his 60s, and you don’t have to be retired to join.
A typical meeting consists of a social hour, lunch, a glass of wine if you like, and a speaker presentation. Sometimes they invite nonmembers to speak, but this month Alan himself was the speaker, telling stories of how he’s caught 9 of the 10 largest freshwater fish in the world over the last 20 years.
In addition to the monthly meetings, they may meet up for a golf tournament, or any number of activities planned on their own as friends, but Alan reminds us that the average age of the group is nearly 80, so options are fairly limited. For plenty of them, meeting once a month is enough socializing.
One of the members Alan’s known over the years ran Olympic Jiu-Jitsu all over the world, another was a superintendent, another ran a paving company and owned several rice fields in the area—it’s quite an interesting mix of individuals and many have some wonderful stories to tell. If they don’t, then they’ll listen to yours.
“What can you not like about meeting a lot of people in your situation, looking for new friends? It seems to work,” Alan said. “We’re not trying to raise money, we’re not trying to get people to plant trees or things like that—these guys just want to sit down, maybe smoke a cigarette, and talk to people.”
Lunch costs $25 and you’re welcome to join. They meet the first Thursday of every month at 11 a.m., and if you’re a newbie, you don’t have to pay. “The first one is on the house,” Alan said. “If you come again, that makes you sort of a member, so then we would ask you to pay for lunch.”
The next meeting is either the 7th of February or March, depending when you’re reading this, at 11 a.m. at La Strada, 2215 Church Lane, San Pablo. Alan invites you to check out his art at alanblavins.com so you can get to know at least one of the members before attending a meeting, and call to let him know you’re coming at (510) 375-5966. For more info on the history and nationwide span of Sons In Retirement, head to sirinc.org.
If you’ve recently retired, first, congratulations! But if you know someone who could benefit from a group like Sons In Retirement, and life close enough to La Strada in San Pablo, please help spread the word.