The Guys at Breakfast

Older men at breakfast

When Dan and Bonnie Carlson rightsized and joined the active adult apartment home community at Overture Ridgmar, Dan was anticipating stress-free, turnkey living in an environment that would cater to the physical, mental and social needs of this chapter of life. Little did he know the opportunities to expand his horizons would include transforming a bunch of neighbors into a supportive, cherished, inclusive group of new friends.

The Guys at Breakfast

By Dan Carlson

In Fort Worth, Texas, the “go to” place for good food and great service is the West Side Cafe.  If you stop there on a Tuesday morning, don’t be surprised by the mob of guys sitting in the back room talking, laughing and enjoying breakfast together.  The restaurant knows to expect this crew and, though doctor’s appointments and other alibis can cause the numbers to fluctuate, a solid ten to twenty guys make it a point to show up every week.

I am proud to count myself a member of this merry band.  We are all neighbors at Overture Ridgmar, a 55+ Active Adult Apartment HomeRetirement Community and on Tuesday mornings, we form up and car pool to our weekly gathering.  

A casual diner walking into the West Side Cafe might be inclined to simply write us off as a rag tag collection of “old guys” with grey hair (or, in some cases, no hair).  But that would be a mistake. Having had the good fortune to spend time with these fellows and get to know a little bit about them, I can testify to the fact that the experiences, depth of knowledge and record of accomplishments around that table are, in a word, remarkable.

 Many of my breakfast colleagues have founded and managed businesses. Others have performed design work in aeronautics. There are medical professionals, men with legal backgrounds, advanced teaching credentials, two preachers, a musician, and a banker. Military service is a common theme among us, but you would never know it based on our Tuesday conversations. Nobody aggrandizes their time in the armed forces.  You have to ask…and ask again…to learn what they have done in service to our country.

Early in my career as a police officer I learned that, occasionally, people would decide to resist arrest. They would raise their fists and declare loudly: “I’m not going to jail. I’m going to kick your ***! Caution was always important, of course, but in most cases I found those bold declarations to be little more than bombast.  On the other hand, those who quietly assumed a bladed and balanced stance, kept their hands free, made direct eye contact and didn’t say a word always impressed me. It was clear those folks knew how to handle a physical confrontation. They didn’t have to broadcast how tough they believed themselves to be.

In my experience, the same applies to military veterans.  Maybe it is just me, but when someone repeatedly expounds on their military heroism without being asked, I tend to be suspicious of their declared credentials.  It is the quiet one, the one who has to be prodded to talk about his experiences, who usually has the most impressive story.

For example, there are a number of retired Vietnam veterans in our Tuesday breakfast club, including a KC-135 pilot, a member of a B-52 crew, a Helicopter pilot, a Swift Boat crewman, a West Point graduate who commanded an artillery battalion, and several enlisted “ground pounders.”  We also dine with a veteran of the Korean conflict who, at age 19, parachuted into North Korea. None of the men around our table talk about their military experiences unless prompted, but each is rightly proud of what he has done in service to our country.

Though to the casual observer, we may seem like a bunch of older guys talking Texas Rangers or sharing remedies for our aches and pains, there is so much more going on at that table. I have been and continue to be privileged to get to know and learn from some truly extraordinary men.  

Every day my wife and I remind each other how fortunate we are to have found Overture Ridgmar almost two years ago. There is so much to celebrate about our new life as part of this exceptional active adult community. No doubt one of the most rewarding benefits is my new group of incredible guys who have turned Tuesday breakfast into a much-anticipated weekly highlight.

The health benefits of socializing for active adults cannot be overstated. To that end, Overture’s 55+ active adult apartment home communities focus on bringing people together to create meaningful and lasting new relationships and a true spirit of community. Just ask Dan Carlson whose hopes for building an active social life at Overture Ridgmar have exceeded all expectations. Learn more about his experiences at

Daniel Carlson
Daniel Carlson

Daniel Carlson is a retired police officer, former law enforcement educator and present-day active author. He and his high school sweetheart Bonnie, have been married for over half a century and have recently co-authored a book titled, “Home Sweet Apartment…Getting Rightsized in Our Seventies.” The young at heart couple are currently loving life at Overture Ridgmar, which is in the Great State of Texas, and in purposefully close proximity to their three children and seven terrific grandchildren.

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