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You may be aware that a book came out not long ago with the above title, written by you-know-who. I have neither bought nor read it and I don’t plan to. I’m not a fan of publicly “biting the hand which fed you,” very handsomely, I might add, for many years.

But there are other uses for the adjective.

There’s spare change, which many of us keep in jugs or loose on our dresser tops. My husband puts his in a bank like a big whiskey bottle inherited from his dad. That change bailed us out more than once when we were young and broke. There’s also the practical spare tire, like the one in my trunk. I don’t like to use it, but I’m glad it’s there, while that spare tire around my middle is not so welcome.

The best use of the word is one we don’t hear much anymore: spare time. When I was growing up in the ‘50’s, that’s where our hobbies lived. Maybe the phrase fell out of use, because the instant access we all “enjoy” (and I use the term loosely,) gives us little of it.

Back then, people pursued their hobbies passionately, sometimes even more than their work.

My dad read his western novels. You’ve seen them, I’m sure. They’re the ones with the cowboy and a girl on the front wearing a torn blouse. A fan of the outdoors, he also loved to fish in the many strip pits left over from area mining. He caught large-mouth bass and crappies, delicious when fried. My sister fished in the Wabash for catfish, and created fabulous hush puppies for our fish feasts. The cholesterol police were on high alert, I’m sure.

My mom, on the other hand, stayed inside, crocheting antimacassars (aka doilies) for darned near every surface in the house. Eventually they graced the end tables, lamp tables, TV top and our dressers. The place looked like an ad: “What the well-dressed furniture will wear.”

Some of her doilies were even three-dimensional. I still have one with variegated pink roses blooming from a green base. Another held huge ruffles framing the lamp base above it.

She also cranked out dozens of baby booties and sweaters with matching caps for her grandchildren and half the population of the North Methodist Church of Vincennes, Indiana.

Now that many of us Old Schoolers are “at ease,” maybe it’s our chance to rediscover “spare time” and keep ourselves amused.


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