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Marc Munroe Dion's op-ed column: For Bill Unger and the Hobby Boys
But, for a number of years, I've written for an honest, homely little publication called "The Pipe Collector," a newsletter for the 1,000 or so members of the North American Society of Pipe Collectors. For free.
And in doing so I met Bill Unger, the grave, humorous man who edited the publication and who died on Jan. 1, 2013, of leukemia.
We were hobbyists together; two men who, although we never met in person, shared a passion for a tiny little hobby practiced by a thin skein of men tied together by an interest outside their work.
And you should have an interest outside your work. If you do not, you are just a machine used to make money for someone else. A man who gets off work and goes home
"Pipe world," as I call it when I'm talking to my wife, is a fanatical place full of men (mostly) who can discourse learnedly about the shapes of pipes, the makers of pipes, the history of the makers
And Bill Unger? Well, Bill was in the middle of it, a man whose name was known in the far corners of the world to which the newsletter penetrated. He was a personage in Pipe World, a presence, comrade to men he'd never seen.
He and I did a book together. It's called "Mill River Smoke" and is a collection of mystery stories about pipe-smoking newspaper reporter Jack Dupont, who, like me, is a fedora-wearing throwback who toils in a small New England city