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Here's to you, Bill Unger, and all hobby boys
Marc Munroe Dion's op-ed column: For Bill Unger and the Hobby Boys

Date published: 1/7/2013

FALL RIVER, Mass.

--Even as I write (in the quaint old phrase), some fellow in, say, Oklahoma is planning or perhaps hosting the meeting of his hometown camera club. Some woman, equally sincere, is going over the books of her bowling team, making sure they're on financial track to purchase trophies for the annual banquet. As a guy in his 60s organizes a barroom darts league and a younger fellow hovers over a computer, making sure all is well with a fantasy football league.

Church choir. Bunco. Pigeon racing. Model railroading. Stock cars. A rod and gun club.

Newsletters. Membership cards. Dues.

It's a sweet world that runs beside our bitter world, a world of games and hobbies and small-scale associations of men and women who "collect" everything from old farm equipment to fishing flies or who engage in some kind of small-scale competition suited to beer and bragging and laughter at inside jokes.

For me, it's pipes. Not plumbing pipes or marijuana pipes, but tobacco pipes. I smoke a pipe, and I've got 103 of them, crouching in wooden racks all over my dusty little office.

It's a good collection, and even though it couldn't be sold for much money, I play with it often, polishing the pipes, looking at the pipes, moving them around in their racks, cleaning them, and, of course, smoking.

No hobby is any good if you cannot talk about it with other like-minded loons, and so I belong to Internet "pipe discussion groups," and I've attended a pipe show in Las Vegas, where collectors show off their treasures, buying, selling, and swapping.

And, because I write, I write about pipes.

I'll tell you that I'm a professional writer, by which I mean I get paid or I don't write.


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