May 4, 1997 in Nation/World

Wife Shopping Disillusioned In Love, Florida Man Pitches Woo With A Bride-Wanted Sign

Vanessa Bauza Sun-Sentinel, South Florida
 

Joe Challand hasn’t had much luck with women.

Divorced since 1979, Challand doesn’t like bars and won’t spend money on personal ads.

A few weeks ago, he tried a different approach. Challand painted a sign and hung it in front of his home.

“Wife Wanted, 28-40,” it reads in red and white letters. “No Drugs, Fatsos or Goons.”

“It’ll work,” Challand said this week. “Trust me. The right one just hasn’t responded yet.”

Actually, no one has responded.

But Challand, 53, is encouraged by the many honks and waves coming from passers-by.

“I really think a whole bunch of women who are single would surely be intrigued,” said Challand, who lives in a converted 1979 school bus with multicolored curtains and posters of his hero, race car driver Dale Earnhardt.

Like Earnhardt, who has lost the Daytona 500 19 times while claiming scores of other victories, Challand is missing the big one.

“There are a lot of lonely nights,” he said.

Challand, who hauls heavy equipment, has a full white beard, rosy cheeks and white hair that brushes the tops of his shoulders. Dressed in bluejeans, a racing T-shirt and cap, he looks like a cross between Santa Claus and Jerry Garcia.

“Outside of being handsome and very intelligent, my sense of humor is probably my best asset,” Challand said.

Challand is picky. He isn’t looking for just any bride. He has two grown children and said he doesn’t want to fuss anymore with children, whom he calls “goons.”

He doesn’t want a woman who looks like Roseanne, and he wants nothing to do with drugs or women who use them.

“You gotta look at what comes through the gate,” Challand said. “Every morning when I get up I look in the mirror, and I look prettier than the day before.”

Challand, originally from Illinois, has spent the past 22 years in south Florida. He said he doesn’t like the fast pace of life here and sometimes escapes to the nostalgic world of “The Waltons,” his favorite television show.

“The Waltons live in a time I can really deal with. No crime, no hatred,” Challand said. “It was a great time to be alive.”

He shares his home with his tabby, Morris, who gets far more dates than he does, Challand said.

“I don’t go to bars. I don’t mess around,” he said. “That part of my life is kind of dull, but that’s the way I like it.”

Challand took his last date to Sawgrass Mills mall about four months ago. Before that, he had a long dry spell. Though his date was fun, it wasn’t serious.

“I can’t see it going anywhere,” he said.

Challand spends most of his weekends with his buddies, cooking up big pots of stew and watching the races.

Will Challand’s dream bride pull up and drive him to the races?

“It’s just a matter of time,” he said. “I just hope somebody doesn’t steal my sign.”


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