ONE often sees in the daily paper the obituary of some once-active business man, dead at sixty-three in spite of having retired at sixty in good health and with nothing to worry about. Sometimes the notice is paired in a neighboring column with a human-interest story of some old codger who comes down to his office on his eighty-ninth birthday, does a good day’s work, and never felt better in his life. The obvious moral to be drawn from such coincidences is that it is better to wear out than to rust out. Statistics, however, if they could be had, would probably show that more men drop dead in harness than die of ennui, while the number who retire to California and linger until they become ‘the oldest living graduate’ is legion.

It is a national superstition that business is the chief end of man. There are many to whom work is the only interest, who find in it both vocation and avocation, who would be at a loss without it, and bored if the hours were shortened, especially if the work is varied, exciting, stimulating, with definite objectives to be achieved. A business man continues in harness because he does not know a better game. Rarely does he look forward to definite retirement. His ambition is a bigger and better job.

It is said that every Frenchman has written down somewhere the number of francs on which he believes he can safely retire. That is his fife objective, and he makes every sacrifice to attain it. But such thinking forms no part of the average American’s scheme of life. The insurance companies, in their advertising, stress the idea of retirement, but it makes little impression and meets with no popular acceptance. Indeed, public opinion views with mild contempt the man who quits before he is decrepit.

Though the tide sets against it, nevertheless men do retire — perhaps forced out, or stepping aside voluntarily to make way for younger men, or acting on their doctor’s orders, or even, in rare instances, yielding to the pull of some hobby, pursuit, or recreation which is stronger than the fascinations of trade or profession. Unless the last of these reasons is the compelling force, the subsequent histories of these men is often pathetic.

Everyone knows the story, so popular with success magazines, of the old man who bravely turns his business over to the younger generation and goes off, freed at last to live his own life. Soon he is back again to haunt the arena of his former triumphs, pottering about disconsolately, a jealous or wistful critic of his successor’s policies. If some turn of events gives him a chance to ‘muscle in,’he is soon ensconced again in the old swivel chair, radiating authority and action. It is bull’s-eye stuff, and delighted readers wipe away a tear in sympathetic approval. The old fire horse that jumped the fence to follow the engine once more is the symbol of a national ideal. We do not doubt that the best use to which life can be put is to sell each year a bigger quota of gadgets than last.

One result of the deification of business as an end in itself is that most men never learn any but the routine uses of their faculties; when, for any reason, they find themselves with leisure on their hands, they do not know what to do with it. They have made getting a living more important than living itself. They have never plumbed the resources and richnesses of their own natures, nor learned how full the world is of engrossing interests outside the narrow field in which they have long functioned.

I have in mind one man I knew well. For two full decades he had no occupation. He was in excellent health for his years (he died at eighty-nine), and had no anxiety as to the means of existence. At the age of sixty-nine he had retired to unlimited leisure with nothing to occupy it. In all his long life he had never come to a tempting bypath which made him say, ‘ Some day, when I have time, I’ll explore that.’ There was nothing waiting for him, as there should be for every man who beats the Psalmist’s record. He did not read in any real sense — had no taste for books. He did not like to write, and his letters were of that perfunctory and characterless kind which do not encourage correspondence. Although physically able, he did not care for walking. His eyesight was extremely good for his age, but he never looked at things; scenery or pictures did not move him. He was particularly awkward with his hands, which had never acquired skill at anything. He played no game and had no sport. His unresourcefulness was exasperating, but the emptiness of his life was pathetic. He did not even find in his descendants, who, before he died, included nine great-grandchildren, the usual fulfillment of living again in the new generation which often gives zest to old age.

It seems incredible that any man could have lived so long and actively as he did before his retirement without accumulating a few interests which, later, he might have turned to account to enliven his leisure. His working life had not even been spent in the routine of ordinary business. He had been a lawyer in a country town, where practice is more adventurous than in the city. His daily round had been spiced with novelty, varied with such lively experiences as a horse race to the neighboring county seat to file a claim ahead of other attorneys, or detective work to uncover the fictitious death of a Methodist minister who had planned to swindle a local life insurance company. These events, and others like them, ought to have limbered up the muscles of his brain, but they did not. For twenty years he sat idle, pondering on the days that were gone. He lingered on, useless to others, a burden to himself — a man without a hobby.

And the pity of it is that this man, though perhaps an extreme instance, does not stand alone in his folly. There are many like him — men who, released from all the ordinary cares of existence, wander disconsolately about, or sit beside tables in club windows, their lives rendered insipid and tasteless because they have not learned to lose themselves in some self-devised occupation which would make them, as Stevenson said, eager in the dawn and weary at night — because, in short, they have never learned to play.


If I may venture to suggest a distinction which perhaps does not exist in the words, ' play ’ seems to imply an active participation, while ‘entertainment’ may be merely a passive acceptance. Or, to put it differently, in play you make your own entertainment; in entertainment others make it for you. It is this distinction, which exists in fact even if these words do not sustain it, that must be kept to the front in all considerations of the use to which leisure may be put.

Of all the words we use to describe diversion, ‘play’ is the most spontaneous. ‘Recreation’ is rather a byproduct of play, while ‘entertainment’ and ‘amusement’ imply passive acceptance, and approximate play in meaning only when used reflexively with the personal pronoun. When one amuses or entertains one’s self, one arrives at something like play. ‘Play’ is active, ‘amuse’ and ‘entertain’ are passive, while ‘pastime,’ as its meaning makes clear, is something to pass the time, a definition too colorless for anything as vigorous as a hobby should be.

To say that the American man does not know how to play is to state a generalization to which there are many exceptions in the form of varied and colorful pursuits and amusements which some men find satisfying. They are what are usually known as hobbies. A hobby might be conceived as a grown-up toy horse which men mount in the same spirit as that of a boy bestriding a rocking-horse, but the electric cob which Calvin Coolidge rode in the privacy of his bedchamber was not a hobbyhorse. Exercise taken from a sense of duty is not a hobby, though some hobbies deliver a satisfactory by-product of exercise.

Nor can those fortunate individuals who have made a life work of their dominating interest be said to be pursuing hobbies. The things they do would be hobbies for other men, but a hobby is something apart from one’s gainful employment. Rex Brasher, the artist-naturalist-hermit of Kent, Connecticut, has just completed a fortyyear job of painting the birds of America. He has tracked down over twelve hundred known species, living leanly, working his way, making only a bare living. He often rose at three-thirty to catch the birds in the marshes, worked for hours waist-deep in icy water to secure some characteristic flying pose; and his satisfaction lies in having done, in many respects, a better job than Audubon. He has undoubtedly come nearer to living a full life than many a prosperous executive.

Frederic Goudy got down from his bookkeeper’s stool to become the world’s leading designer of printing types. He will never be paid for what he has contributed to the raw materials of good printing, any more than Bruce Rogers will be adequately rewarded for his taste and skill in the use of type. Unhampered by economic considerations, with no printing office of his own, Rogers has gone from shop to shop, here and abroad, pausing only long enough to leave behind him a few monumental examples of his perfect art. These books are an impressive life work, and constitute a contribution to the cultural richness of the world which cannot be measured in dollars and cents. Dard Hunter belongs to the same celestial brotherhood. Blessed with a small income, he was free to follow his bent. He has dedicated his life to paper, operates the only mill in this country where paper is made by hand, and is putting his unusual knowledge of this craft in the form of permanent records.

Thus, within the narrow limits of one art, we have three men, each devoting himself to an essential of printing, — type, typography, paper, — whose estates are made up, not of money, but of achievement. They need no escape. Their work fills their lives.

Henry Culver was a New York lawyer with a penchant for naval archæology — the design and rig of ancient ships. He bought rare books and old marine prints, followed up obscure clues, became an authority on such abstruse matters as the lead of the fore-topsail braces before 1770, built many beautiful models to scale, historically correct, re-rigged H. H. Rogers’s almost priceless dockyard model Prince George, and soon found himself a sort of professional amateur, executing commissions for wealthy patrons. His greatest work is the Sovereign of the Seas, Charles I’s firstrater, the most complete and perfect model ever built, which kept six Italian wood carvers busy for six months, cost $30,000, and is a historical document. It now hangs in the hall of a baronial estate in Westchester County, New York.

There are men whose hobbies are extensions of their businesses, a cultural background to give atmosphere, a legitimate and even admirable use of a paramount interest. Whoever has visited the shop of the Merrymount Press has felt the air of old and distinguished printing which pervades it from the prints, broadsides, books, and specimens which embellish it. The Pynson Printers have likewise created a setting for the shop in which Elmer Adler’s chief interest is made an annex of his occupation. Adjoining the plant of the Worcester Pressed Steel Company is t he John Woodman Higgins Museum, which houses the avocation of its president. It is filled with masterpieces of the steel craftsmen’s cunning, principally arms and armor on which so much old-time taste and skill were expended, and is the visible expression of a purpose to impart the taste of a handwork era to the products of a machine age.

But these examples do not supply us with hobbies which the ordinary business man can adapt to his special needs. Our prime concern is with the man who has spent his years in the peculiar and at times feverish activities which in this country make up the technique of business, and who, tired of the monotonous round, in an optimistic moment has counted up his gains, found he had enough to live on, and let go. He imagined that, once supplied with leisure, pleasant and satisfying occupations would spring to hand at will, and learns too late that the art of play must be acquired as the art of business was acquired, — gradually, — the best method being to begin early, as one accumulates life insurance.

No man should follow his business or profession or trade exclusively, taking his work home at night, eating and sleeping with it. As Bruce Barton once said, a man ought to be able to earn a living during working hours. We all need an outlet, a pastime, an interest of some kind as different as possible from our daily task. If we are white-collar men, we should have a no-collar, dirty-handed hobby, like digging in the earth or playing with tools. If our work keeps us in the open air, then our play should find us in studio or laboratory, in library or workshop. This will give life a better balance, developing at least two sides of our nature. It is a matter of mental health, of spiritual happiness; and when the time comes that we have no occupational duties, the play we have developed becomes our chief interest.


The man who says there is nothing to do is singularly unobservant. There are so many amusing hobbies — useful, ornamental, or both — that a mere catalogue of them would run to dismaying length. First comes working with the hands, with tools in the ancient skills and crafts now displaced economically by machines, but cherished for their indubitable solace to the spirit. Most seekers of hobbies belong to the class of head workers to whom handwork is a relief, manual dexterity being the natural compensation for mental effort.

Wood, metal, clay, cloth, leather, linoleum, wax, have possibilities. Wood carving has a peculiar charm. It has a homely ancestry. Its earliest practitioners were the whittlers. In my boyhood every town harbored at least one genius who could cut a linked chain from a solid piece of wood, or a cane whose round knob concealed ball within ball, or tiny baskets out of hazelnuts or peach stones, sought by us boys for watch charms.

Some newspaper men found an old wood carver in a furniture factory in Grand Rapids who did fine work. When asked what he did to amuse himself, he exhibited a magnificent piece of carving done in his spare time. Busman’s holiday? Perhaps, but it shows how wood carving fascinates. When asked if they had labor troubles in the furniture trade, he replied: ‘Not in our department. You have to have a good disposition to work in wood.’ You have it — or you get it. So, for hobby-horsical purposes, we shall have to put carving at the top of the list of woodworking crafts.

Then there is model building: some men make ships, a big field worthy of a paragraph by itself; models of houses with landscaping, such as architects use to dazzle clients; miniature coaches, just now something of a craze; furniture; in fact, anything that can be made of wood.

All over the land there are springing up amateur workshops amazingly complete. Dr. Richard J. Schofield, of New York, has one with more than a thousand tools — some with power, such as engine lathe, band saw, automatic drill — where he escapes from his patients. Another New Yorker, a distinguished neurologist, spends a month each year as a workman in a high-class cabinetmaker’s shop on the East Side. There is something about tools that fascinates the normal man. Christopher Morley tells in one of his essays how men stand enthralled in front of windows where the instruments of precision — micrometers, compasses, calipers, protractors — are displayed in concentric patterns. The thrill of owning and using them is even greater. I got something of the rapture of a poet who has written a sonnet when I found I could use a tap and die and make a perfectly practical bolt and nut.

Building ship models is not the same thing as collecting them, though the two are closely allied and the addicts of both belong to the same lodge. The membership of the Ship Model Society — and for that matter of its distinguished prototype in England, the Society for Nautical Research — consists of builders and collectors, but the builders do not collect and the collectors do not build. The bright star among builders in this country is, of course, Henry Culver. Irving Wiles, the portrait painter, has also made some beautiful ships. President Roosevelt is a collector, both of ship models and of marine prints. So are Junius Spencer Morgan and H. H. Rogers. The latter has two thousand ship models, including the famous Cuckfield Park group of old English dockyard models, the nucleus of which is supposed to have once belonged to Samuel Pepys the diarist.

Allan Forbes has a weakness for the little ships, and the banking rooms of the State Street Trust Company of Boston, over which he presides, are adorned with delightful small-scale clippers and frigates. James Farrell not only has models — he owns a fullsized, square-rigged ship, the only one sailing from New York harbor. Tusitala must be classed as a hobby, since her owner cheerfully makes up the deficit in her earnings. Colonel William Green, Hetty Green’s son, bought the last New Bedford whaler, Henry J. Morgan, and imbedded her in a sea of concrete at his country place near Fairhaven. Even such bulky mementos of the brave days of sail as old ships’ figureheads have their collectors. F. Alexander Magoun, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, finds relief from teaching naval architecture in restoring the plans of ancient ships.

The late Alexander Drake, for many years art editor of the old Century Magazine, was undoubtedly the father of the modern movement which has given the collecting of little ships the proportions of a fad and skyrocketed prices for models, marine prints, and books in the auction rooms. Drake had many strange hobbies. He was a born collector, and besides his ship models, which now adorn the walls of India House, the shipping men’s club in downtown New York, he made collections of old glass bottles, copper and brass utensils, bird cages, and bandboxes.

Ship models satisfy two play interests, collecting and craftsmanship, but they are only one product of woodworking, as wood is but one of the materials available to the amateur craftsman. Among other hobbies are engraving linoleum to make block prints, or even etching on copper; modeling in clay, for which there is a most adaptable material known as plasticine; working in metal, both precious and vulgar, jewelry, repoussé, bent iron. William E. Brigham, a wealthy resident of Providence, makes jewelry and objets d’art of professional quality as a hobby. George P. Metzger, the well-known advertising executive, carves soap statues, mostly grotesques and cartoons of his friends.

Perhaps the most piquant hobby for a man is that of the heir to the British throne, the popular and likable Prince of Wales. He knits and crochets scarfs and mufflers. He learned this skill when a boy from his royal mother, and fills in odd moments of his busy day practising a singularly restful diversion. This is not so unprecedented as it seems. For generations the shepherds of Scotland have whiled away by knitting the long hours of watching their sheep. I commend it as a sedative in this nerve-frazzled age.


Collecting is sanctioned by long experience. Almost every article of human use has been collected, from the old-time vehicles of Henry Ford to the ancient chessmen of G. A. Pfeiffer, president of Hudnut, as well as many of the products of nature — wild flowers, birds’ eggs, butterflies, seashells, and the big-game hunters’ tusked or antlered trophies. In this field, books and pictures hold the place of honor, but prices are such that they have become rich men’s hobbies, reserved for the Altmans, Fricks, Huntingtons, Folgers, Morgans; but there are lesser realms attainable by even a slender purse. The old booksellers have created an interest in ‘modern firsts,’ a modest form of book collecting, and there are other fields in which cost does not figure largely. I am interested in collecting books by or about hard-of-hearing people. You would be surprised to learn how many there are.

One of the most completely satisfying hobbies imaginable is the private press. Its history and literature, beginning with Horace Walpole and Sir Egerton Brydges, are far too long for any mere magazine article to compass, but a by-product is collecting its products.

Mark Twain once announced that he was working on a book in Arabic — ‘gum Arabic,’ he jocosely explained. Gum arabic, or its modern successor library paste, is a material which contributes a charming hobby, the scrapbook habit. Mark Twain’s scrapbook was merely a book with the pages ready gummed, but Joseph (‘Sunny Joe’) Kathrens, formerly advertising manager of Pabst in the days when beer was beer, is spending the remaining years of his life sorting and arranging 80,000 pages of clippings about artists, gathered over fifty years, to make a stupendous art reference library of at least 800 volumes. There is also Charles F. Gettemy, assistant Federal Reserve officer of Boston, who has made scrapbooks a fine art. His record of college years was given to his alma mater. His story of his daughter’s life, told with snapshots and clippings, was a wedding present to her. I have spent some enjoyable hours going over the records of his boyhood, for we grew up in the same town and had several enterprises in common, particularly the editing and publishing of an amateur newspaper.

The amateur newspaper as a hobby belongs strictly to youth, but there is an alumni association of such former publishers with many distinguished names — Cyrus Curtis, Thomas A. Edison, Timothy Thrift, H. Gordon Selfridge, James M. Beck, William G. Snow, Herbert Parsons. There is also the Guild of Former Pipe Organ Pumpers composed of those who as boys worked the big bellows that supplied the ‘wind’ for some country church. It is natural that, in a country so given to organizations as ours, organizations should become hobbies. There are other burlesque or amusing associations, the Bald Head Club, the Thirteen Club, whose members defy popular superstitions, the Covered Wagon Baby Club, whose members were born in prairie schooners crossing the great plains.

Among the classic and established lines of collecting are furniture and other antiques, china, silver, pewter, old lace, Currier & Ives prints, Rogers groups, snuffboxes, Chinese tear bottles, carved ivories, postage stamps (King George is a devotee), armor, arms, canes, autographs, Indian arrowheads. Harold D. Smith, vice president of the Home Insurance Company, collects fire signs (those tin placards you see over the doors of old houses) and leather fire buckets. Clarence Cook Little, formerly president of the University of Michigan, collected lead soldiers of all nations. Eugene Field was a collector of children’s toys. George A. Plimpton has perhaps the most complete collection of schoolbooks in the world. There are various collectors’ magazines, and a glance through them will reveal many fields of research — valentines, samplers, teapots, tobies, locks and keys. The fun lies, not in possession, but in pursuit, and in the special knowledge required to identify authentic specimens, their history and provenance.

The arts have become as promising a field for hobbies as the crafts. The number of amateur painters and sculptors is surprising. Nearly every large city has its business men’s art club which gives exhibitions of playtime work. Last year 63 New York doctors exhibited 233 paintings and sculptures at the Academy of Medicine on Fifth Avenue. Some of the physician painters are so good that their work has been shown with that of professional artists. An exhibition of oils, water colors, sculptures, and drawings by municipal employees of New York City was held last December.

Music too offers escape to tired business men. The number who are performers on various instruments in amateur bands and orchestras is great. It may not be known that the late Theodore N. Vail played his own pipe organ passing well, as does also Cyrus Curtis. Who, hearing the delightful music of ‘Little Wooden Willie,’ or any of the ‘Raggedy Ann’ songs, would suspect that the Will Woodin who wrote them was in business hours William Hartman Woodin, formerly President of American Car & Foundry and American Locomotive, and now Secretary of the Treasury, and that, besides composing music, he plays the violin, guitar, zither, and cello? And Dr. Albert Einstein, according to a newspaper story, joined the hotel orchestra at Palm Springs with his violin and played for an hour.

This brief résumé scarcely opens the subject, so long is the list of occupations open to leisure. Some require means, but most of them, and by far the best and most satisfying, may be pursued at little or no expense. Among them is genealogy. Some men find interest in tracing their family history, which involves correspondence as well as research. Letter writing for its own sake can be made a satisfying hobby, pursued in a spirit, now almost extinguished by typewriter and telephone, which makes collections of old letters so readable. I have corresponded for years with friends I have never met, and know them better through their letters than I should had I met them daily. Most of them are deaf, as I am also, and it was our common handicap that brought us together.

Penmanship adds to the virtuosity of such letters, and indeed of all letters, if one has a gift or leaning toward such a skill. The writings of Eugene Field have something of the beauty of the old manuscripts. Arnold Bennett tells in his Journals how he taught himself a beautiful calligraphy and wrote in it the whole of The Old Wives’ Tale — 150,000 words. All who come within the circle of W. A. Dwiggins’s influence are aware of a blithe spirit akin to that of Lewis Carroll, for he plays with pen and ink with a touch of fantasy added. His Society of Calligraphers is a purely imaginary organization, and its learned president Hermann Püterschein merely Dwiggins’s alter ego, as Lewis Carroll was Professor Dodgson’s. Fortunate are the favored few who receive tangible evidence of this mythical society’s existence. As a diversion the pen is mightier than most playthings, particularly if one has learned the trick of using it doubly, to record and to embellish.


Sports and games scarcely need be mentioned, they occupy so large a place in our lives and are given so much space in our papers. They hardly qualify as hobbies, for the tendency is to enjoy them vicariously, watching headlined stars compete. Our whole psychology toward games is wrong. Play in which the player does nothing obtains in our adult amusements. There is no play involved in listening to radio, watching a movie, riding in a motor car, or sitting in the grand stand at a baseball or football game. There is no participation. These spectacles occupy the place of the Circus Maximus in ancient Rome or the bullfight in modern Spain. They are anodynes. Their performers are certainly not engaged in playing. They are working as truly as if they were bricklayers or bootleggers.

Even bridge, which started as play, is in danger of becoming a spectacle, an organized amusement, even a racket, in which the participation of the few playing for profit is followed passively by the many. Baseball as a corner-lot pastime has died out since professional baseball became big business. Tom Thumb golf was killed by over-exploitation. Even marbles is in danger of the limelight. We esteem business so highly that our sport becomes business. We rate winning higher than playing the game; public opinion coalesces around experts who can win, and we become merely spectators. We have golfers who can beat the best English players, but England still has more players who can play good golf than we have, for with the English the game’s the thing. We need more of the community sports, — pitching horseshoes, croquet, lawn bowls, badminton, archery, — followed for the fun of it.

We should beware of diversions that become too popular. Golf is more of a fad than a hobby, as are bridge and backgammon. There is something about a hobby that shuns the limelight, that is personal and intimate and sequestered. The idea is not to do blindly what everyone is doing, but to find your own special means of self-expression, something that satisfies you completely and gives you that glorious sense of power or knowledge or efficiency in some hitherto strange field.

Hobbies are neither drugs nor time killers. The man with a hobby should be neither a sponge nor a jellyfish. The play that is worth while develops, creates, educates, gives life a new dimension. No man is uninteresting who is absorbingly interested in something. A hobby should exercise the imagination, play to the fancy, stimulate invention.

The delights of study are too little appreciated. The city editor of a smalltown daily has made a practice of carrying a hammer in his pocket on his walks in the surrounding country to break open rocks and read their history. He has become extraordinarily informed in the geology of his native state and reads papers before learned societies. Theodore Roosevelt’s familiarity with birds suggests itself. Some intimacy with nature, scenery, birds, flowers, trees, rocks, adds to the richness of walking, which is one of the best and cheapest of all hobbies.

A conspicuous disciple of pedestrianism is Dr. John H. Finley of the New York Times, who on his sixtyninth birthday walked twelve miles, and once at the outbreak of the World War walked from Paris to Boulogne to catch a ship. He has expressed his philosophy of recreation in seven well-considered points: —

That leisure is an opportunity to recreate energy and build up mental and physical health; that this is essential to happiness, whether working or playing; that most people do not appreciate the value of physical activity; that not enough foresight and planning are given to our leisure; that individual leisure-time activities should be chosen that will benefit the community as well as give pleasure to the individual; that ‘fantasy’ is a rich possession of the human race, because through it we escape the burdens of life (we enjoy in fantasy the things we do not possess in fact; leisure offers the same kind of escape from the cares of our complex civilization); that our present industrial system with the deadening influence of the automatic machine makes the right use of leisure of tremendous importance in preserving an enlightened citizenship.


On this note we may as well end. This cursory summary is full of omissions anyway, and enthusiastic hobbyists are going to rise up and call me to account for overlooking their pet pastimes. There has been no space for one of the oldest and most perfect hobbies — gardening, with its delightful subsidiaries, the growing of roses, dahlias, and orchids, and other specialized flowers. I can only mention fishing, the contemplative man’s recreation, which has a vast literature of its own. Travel, whether to the nearest town or to Lhasa the forbidden city of Tibet, with its bypaths of exploration or big-game hunting, gets no grace but an ‘among those present.'

By far the most curious hobby I have encountered is that of the man who specializes in human trouble. For years he has reserved Saturday mornings for seeing people who are unhappy, in despair, or at a crisis, not merely or always financial, but spiritual, mental, social, and sends them away with new courage. He is not a minister; in fact, he is an insurance agent. All are welcome to this clinic. His friends send to him those they are unable to help. His methods are simple. He merely tries to give hope, courage, self-respect, by a combination of sympathy and reason. You can read all about it in A Fortune to Share, by Vash Young.

There is no dearth of hobbies. You can choose from a thousand, tested and tried, that have furnished amusement to many men. Or you can invent your own, some pursuit not yet pursued for its own sake. You must find the predilection within yourself. You may think a pursuit requires some special skill. Not at all. The skill is acquired, but the necessary thing is that you should like doing it sufficiently to have patience with the details. Admiring friends exclaim at my handiwork with tools, saying, ' I wish I could do that, but I can’t even drive a nail.’ People are not born with ability to drive nails, but they are born with undeveloped possibilities in their minds, eyes, fingers, feet, which become, with practice, skills that afford endless amusement. Most of the envious friends who look at my work could do it if they wanted to. There’s the rub. The fascination lies in achieving, in going from one minor triumph to another, learning something all the time. One who has tried to use carving tools thereafter looks with a fresh eye upon all carving, in wood, ivory, or stone. Even a little acquaintance with an art or craft opens new worlds, makes life richer and more exciting, puts new meanings into a thousand things.

Many are so constituted that they must feel that what they do is useful. Well, any hobby is useful that makes one life deeper, more worth while, but there are recreations that are altruistic, that contribute to the wellbeing of others. Many discoveries and inventions have been made by men following research in an amateur spirit.

The sudden death of Calvin Coolidge brought out rather pathetically the emptiness of his last days. He went early to his office, but there was nothing to do. He went home again, and there was nothing to do. He went down and watched the handy man shovel coal on the furnace. He was sixty years old and apparently had no engrossing interest.

Given three requisites, — means of existence, reasonable health, and an absorbing interest, — those years beyond sixty can be the happiest and most satisfying of a lifetime.