It’s the time of year when we should spend some time focusing on the important things in life…like having fun!!!  Christmas is coming, but what is the “right” kind of present?

The theory is that people need “time to re-create.”  So, the notion of “re-creation” which drops the hyphen to become recreation.

Since a lot of “recreation” is based on ancient tribal behaviors, we have monetized some of the silliest things – like standing up to cheer in a “wave” when a player steals a ball from one “player” and runs 50-yards for a “touchdown.”

Following this? Everyone stands around, congratulating the team and (even weirder) put on a jerseys with numbers on them to pretend  (or falsely identifying) with another person (usually alpha male) who is in far better physical condition.

Seriously?  Vicarious wasting of life on the 50-yard line, as we see it.

I go back to my long-held contention that most “recreation” as commercially formulated is pointless and little more than a way to separate the foolish sheep from their money.

That’s why among all of our friends, only a very few have even a passing interest in “team sports” because, well, what’s the point?

Recreation and Money

We can build a simple little 2-by-2 matrix. that lays this all out in clearest possible terms if it’s not already self-evident.

Most recreation begins by costing something, though in “modern” times, usually money.  Lot’s of it, too.

It doesn’t have to:  You can buy a ball for a couple of bucks and play with your child, which will build a relationship with the child (and give ’em a souvenir when they get older), OR you can buy season tickets to a “team spot” and drag ’em along, reassuring them this is “fun.”  Today, for reasons we can’t comprehend, the team sports seem to get the nod.  Maybe a three-game exemption for alma mater games, but come on…you’re age what?

In team sports, there is little to NO opportunity for “little people” to make money.  Instead, groupings around a particular sport draw the gullible into “12th Man” clubs and so forth.  Sanction and license.

The entry of “regular peeps” into profiting off professional sports teams is “protected” by intellectual property rights and these are, in turn, rented to entrepreneurs who have to give an oversized piece of their sales back to the granting franchise.

Are there “Honest Sports”?

In Ure’s odd way of looking at things, an honest sport is where a person can make money while recreating.  So yes, there are many “honest” sports.

Take fishing:  When I was young, Pappy and I built an 8-foot pram in the basement of our house. He did the building, but at age 9, or so, I held wood, shagged tools, handed him the pencil, all tyhe things young shop apprentices do in their indenture,.

Completed, the whole boat  – empty – weighed (without outboard) about 86 pounds.  Pappy would lift this and put it up on top of the ‘car top racks; and we’d go fishing.

Every detail went into the boat including a painter (the line on the front) that was exactly as long as the boat so if it went overboard, it would never wrap around the boat motor’s propeller.  Pappy read ever horror story and planned meticulous avoidance…key lessons to pass on.

Pappy’s personal “measure of success” in the sport was a small flip-open notebook he kept for years.  Everytime we would go fishing, he would carefully enter the weight of the fish we caught, date, weather, sunrise, and location, into his book.

We fished almost every body of water in the Pacific Northwest from Oregon north to up past 100-Mile House on the Alaska Highway route. I learned to row on Canim Lake at Ed Nadin’s Peter Pan Resort.

Pappy took his fishing seriously, right down to tying his own flies and even inventing one called the Lake Jameson Shrimp which was modeled on the bugs we saw fish eating at Lake Jameson in Eastern Washington…from the pram.

Great lake to fish.  Row or troll up to the north end in the morning before it got too hot.  Then do some single-egging along the western side under the raw coulee rocks.  In early afternoon, the north wind comes up and blows you back down to the boat ramp…trolling with Jameson Shrimp flies along the way if we hadn’t limited out, yet.

See how this works?  A hobby really ought to make business sense and be fun.  One year in particular Pappy was pleased to announce – at the end of the season – we had caught enough big King Salmon out in Elliott Bay (yes, in an 8-foot boat!) to have caught “the boat’s weight in fish” – which was one of his goals in Life.

Not just 88 pounds of Silver, King, Sockeye, and Chinook salmon…no, we had lots of rainbow and brown trout in the mix, too.

Being a demanding fellow, he threw in the weight of both of us as the fishermen, the 3- HP Sea-King (old Montgomery Wards brand) outboard motor,, the seven-foot long serious rowing oars, along with the weight of gear, gas, coffee, life jackets and sandwiches.  THAT, I have to tell you, was impressive.

But, he wasn’t the only one in the family to do this, either.  His late brothers did the same thing, except he did it one level up the business food chain:  He got a 20-foot Pacific Mariner, put about a 100-horse Mercury outboard on it, and fished for salmon commercially off Seiku, Ilwaco, and West Port, Washington.

This was not sustainable, though, due to the Judge Boldt fishing decision…and what would follow as a massive reduction in the commercial troller fleet size.  Ground rules changed.

But you get the point, I hope.

The same thing happens with hunters.

I have a number of relatives – pushing up daisies now – who had this same “Depression Residue” kind of thinking when came to “recreating.”

One uncle, for example, had an old shotgun.  He was working at the navy’s Pier 90-91 in Seattle…and he went hunting with his dad now and then – Lake Chelan area, if I recall.  And they got deer.  Lots of ’em.

Key thing is they has almost no cost in it:  They would use an old family shotgun and they would toss a handful of “rifled slugs” in their pockets.

I don’t know if you have priced those, but they’re cheap.. I doubt back in the day if they had more than $10 a deer in expenses…and this was after tossing in some gas money, slugs, sandwiches, and maybe one of the old Metkers’ Maps of a Washington county.

Why, toss in another hobby (reloading) and if you cost-contain things, you can acutely come close to lowering you hunting cost if you go for duck, pheasant, quail, and deer.  Seeing how this works?

My life-long buddy, the major‘s brother, was seriously into reloading so between ’em, they got close to break-even quail, pheasant, and duck hunting.  Poltholes Reservoir area.

What Were “Depression Hobbies?”

The Great Depression was also called “America’s Hungry Years.”  So, most of the recreation back they was oriented toward the production of food.  Which meant:

  • Hunting
  • Fishing
  • Gardening

I remember my mother telling me about an old cow the family kept during the Depression living about 20-miles out from Seattle and beyond the reach of the old Interurban run to Renton, Washington back when.

It provided milk and butter for the family and eventually, a fair bit of meat.

What you DIDN’T see in the Depression was a lot of “travel without some point to it.”  Things like RV’ing would not survive in great numbers EXCEPT as an alternative place to live.  Something Elaine and I have kicked around as “another adventure” in life.  Not now, though:  “It’s just a mobile housekeeping job…” I think was her view of it.

Things like camping were not popular, either, except as alternative housing or for stops en-route to a useful destination – somewhere that work might be found.

There was one other hobby – and I haven’t done too much of it yet myself – gold and silver mining.

Which gets us to the front page of tomorrow’s discussion…

For now, ponder this simple question:  Of all of your hobbies, which ones would distill down to simple dollars and cents should the bottom fall out from the economy?

I restore old radio equipment – so that’s not a complete washout because people will be needing “Fix-it” shops.  Tariffs on foreign goods going up seems likely to ensure that.

Hydroponics, or conventional gardening, may pay off well in all economies but only if you have time for them.

Hunting and fishing?  Not certain:  Remember, government will up the rents for hunting and fishing to whatever they think they can get away with.  Government is where the Ruling Class is.  And, besides, we don’t have the natural abundance left we did in the American Outback previously – people have been stripping resources for almost a hundred years since….

The hard questions are:

  1. What is my hobby?
  2. Will people do it in a Depression?
  3. Can I make money doing it somehow now or then?

Tying fishing flies is mechanized now, reloads are not as cheap as single shot disposable ammo in many calibers.  (.22 LR for example…how the hell do you compete on those prices?)  And sure, gardening works, but only if you have some land, fencing, and have seeds, water, and time to look after it all…Did I mention trustworthy neighbors?

Not a pleasant line-up to be pondering, but this is a dandy time of year to be doing so:  because  as I figure it, if you buy someone a Christmas gift for a legacy hobby that can’t survive hard times, as you doing anyone a favor?

You’d be better off getting them an old two-wheel “yard tractor” to restore.  Not only are they highly prized, but they also have collector value in the good times.

Part 2 tomorrow…

Markets: Trump on Way Out?
Markets: Hanging on Jobs and Trade