Sign Of Longing For Mrs. Right

August 09, 1994|By Shirley Leung | Shirley Leung,Sun Staff Writer

Joseph Mullan, 76, wants a wife -- and he thinks he's found the perfect pickup line.

It's a 6-foot-by-6-foot sign that screams, amid Guilford's mansions and manicured lawns, "Wanted A WIFE! Picture & Performance To Joseph Mullan -- Apply Within."

"It pays to advertise," said Mr. Mullan, who put his money where his heart is. "If I put an ad in the paper, it would have cost me more."

For the elderly widower, the $400 professionally made sign seems to be working. Since Friday, when it went up in front of his elegant stucco home in the 200 block of Northway, 12 women have responded with a picture and "performance" -- which to Mr. Mullan means resumes.

Many nonapplicants have stopped and stared -- and even taken pictures. Some passing cars have driven by and then backed up the street to get a closer look.

"It's been the talk of the neighborhood," said Kathy King, who lives around the corner from Mr. Mullan. "I've never seen a 'wife wanted' sign before."

For some neighbors, however, the sign is an eyesore. Said next-door neighbor David Coombs: "I think the sign is ugly. But he could do whatever he wants."

Mr. Mullan's wife of 51 years, Getty, died of cancer in 1992, and lately he's been longing for another companion. "My wife was a good girl. When you have something good and you lose it, you want to replace it," said the tall, slim, silver-haired Mr. Mullan, a retired president of Champion Brick Co.

So he picked up the phone book and called up Signs By Tomorrow.

"We thought he was kidding," said Peggy Greenman, 51, the oldest of Mr. Mullan's nine children. "But then it came."

"I think it would be very nice if my father found a nice wife," she added, noting that she was not surprised by her father's strategy. "He's eccentric. He's always been a character."

Despite his creative tactic, he says he's still hasn't found Mrs. Right. "You have to look in her eyes," Mr. Mullan explained. "You just can't look at her figure -- but my wife had a good figure."

He's looking for someone between the ages 40 to 60 who is smart, can cook and drive. He's also requiring a monthlong tryout at his house.

The Baltimore native acknowledged having tough standards, but said he wants to find the right woman again. "You have to know my first wife," he said, recalling that he met her at a Loyola College dance and proposed to her the same night. "She was a beautiful girl. I want someone equal or above average. I don't think I'll find someone equal to my wife."

But what does Mr. Mullan have to offer?

"I'm good-looking," he said, adding that his hobbies include operating a ham radio and making furniture.

Yesterday afternoon, his sign continued to draw the attention of people walking and driving by, with one woman offering some advice.

"If this man is really interested in meeting some nice people in Guilford, he has to get out and do it," said Iris Rosenberg, who was driving through the neighborhood. "He can't just put a sign out.

"It makes people think you're eccentric. The Guilford garden club would be a great place for him to meet them -- there are women as young as 50."

Mr. Mullan remains confident about his approach, but has one reservation about the public proposal.

"I'm just worried that someone is going to steal the sign."

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