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What Mary Jo Taught Me About Dating

Posted by Mike G on February 24, 2010

                          What Mary Jo Taught Me About Dating

Long term Executive Director of the Rogers Park West Ridge Historical Society, Mary Jo Doyle, a friend of mine who died two years ago, once taught me an important rule, one which people ought to follow their entire lives. Ask anyone who knows me: not only to do I consistently abide by this rule, but I constantly remind people who are important to me, i.e. my kids, or people on whom I rely, i.e. my office manager, my property managers, my bookie, to adhere to it.

The rule (I can hear Mary Jo saying it right now): “Date everything!”

Yes. It’s true. It doesn’t matter what it is: a memo to an employee (even instructions left on a post-a-note); a message to yourself; a card to a friend; a “to-do” list – just date it.

I can hear Mary Jo offer clarification. With a scolding tone in her voice, she’d bark out “not just the month and day, but the year as well. Always add the year!”

I think about Mary Jo’s advice every time I go through old papers and other collectibles – pictures drawn by my kids when they were in pre-school, work related comments or personal observations scribbled on old legal pads, or entries my friends make in my guest book at my summer cottage – the document is richer and the context clearer when I know the date and year. Similarly, I’m left hanging and feeling under served when the document lacks a date.

I recently opened an old box storing family collectibles located in a storage locker. From it I retrieved an aged sheet of blue construction paper with a stick figure sporting a large round face and what appears to be a baseball mitt and ball in the figure’s hands. “Wow. Mitch did that?” I exclaimed, looking at the work of my son, now aged 20. “I wonder how old he was when he drew this.”

How pleased I was turning the paper around to see that someone had written the date “May 21, 1991” in the upper right hand corner. “God, he was just over 2 and a half. Imagine; he loved baseball even then!”

Or, I have found journals that I wrote around fifteen years ago, soul-searching rants as I tried to figure out which direction to take my life. Reading these journals, untouched for so many years, I shake my head in disbelief as I see the state of my head as I compare and contrast my life now versus back then. I’m glad to know exactly when (and sometimes where) I wrote each entry. The dates offer me perspective, preventing me from having to guess when or where I wrote them. (Of course, I’m usually blown away at how little I’ve changed!)

I am deeply gladdened when I do receive occasional (these days, all too rarely) letters or cards from my kids – for they nearly always contain the date. I know that by adding the date my kids are conveying a message to me: “See Dad. I listened to you!”

Years from now when they pull these card from a similar box of family archives (or from my dresser drawer) they will smile when they see that they added the date. They’ll remember that I taught them to do it, and I’m sure that they’ll teach their kids to do the same.

Whenever anyone uses my summer cottage, I urge him or her to sign the guest book and to write about his or her thoughts or impressions, or to note funny or memorable things that happened during their visit. Later, when I glance at the submission, I’ll always look to see if he or she added the date.

If I they are no longer at the house, I’ll add it myself. But if my guest is still there, particularly if the person submitting the entry is young and impressionable, I’ll remind him or her to add the date.  And I think of my friend Mary Jo Doyle as I scold them. “And add the year!”

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Reader Comments

So true!! Trusting one’s memory for dates is foolhardy.  As you point out - thinking you’ll remember a child’s drawing or visit to a home, however awesome, is often blurred by the speedy passage of time.
Date everything - and add the year!!

Posted by jalimey on March 13, 2010 at 8:03 pm

I didn’t know MaryJo but love the advice. I have done this for years, understanding how helpful it is.
When i first read the advice, i took ‘date’ in the ‘courting’ sense! ‘Date everything’ takes on a different meaning then!

Posted by SusanB on March 14, 2010 at 10:03 am

I agree wiht Susan and its an excellent advice- I heard it many times from my parents and its great to be reminded of it again - Thanks MaryJo and Mike.

Posted by minerali on March 16, 2010 at 2:03 pm

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About the Author

Mike G's photoMike Glasser

Mike has a long term relationship with Rogers Park, having lived here at various times in his life, most recently returning to the neighborhood in August, 2009. While living here as a third year law student, he remembers drunken nights at Biddy Mulligan’s and hosting a couple of memorable parties that he, hypocritically, now forbids his own tenants from having. Years later, after completing his stint as a lawyer, Mike started investing in apartment buildings in Rogers Park (and elsewhere), and soon after, did what many newly divorced real estate investors do: he moved into one of his buildings. In 1992 Mike was one of the founding members of the Rogers Park Builders Group, an organization that he eventually headed for six years, until yielding those reigns three years ago. Around a decade ago, on a whim, he reserved the web site “,” which he has been developing ever since, and which co-hosts RP BizArts networking events. Mike is the proud father of three wonderful children, Amy, Mitch and Ella.

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