The Third Place

1thirdplaceRay Oldenburg , a sociologist, is credited with establishing the concept of “a third place.” (see his words above)  His books have included “Celebrating The Third Place” and “The Great Good Place.”  The first two important places in a person’s life are their home and a work place. But it is the “third place” where people go to recharge their emotional, intellectual, and social batteries.  Such places are informal, voluntary, and encourage interaction and communication.  They are where “people can gather, put aside the concerns of work and home, and hang out simply for the pleasures of good company and lively conversation.”


Third places can be a general store, coffee shop, barbershop, bookstore, library, or a bar like Television’s “Cheers.” (see above)  For example, Senior citizens habitually congregate in a conversation spot in my supermarket.  Another third place is a rehab center near a local hospital.  More is going on there than mere physical rehabilitation.

When I was a youngster, I was taken to a VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) post by a uncle.  It had meeting rooms, a hall for group meetings and presentations, … and then there was their basement.  It contained a looong bar, a large television, a pool table which was always in use, a dart board for both relaxation and competition, and there were snacks.  I had my fill of cheese and crackers and cokes.  My Uncle and friends had beverages with a higher alcohol content. It was my first association with “a third place.”

After high school, I worked for a number of years in an Insurance company.  There were no computers and every piece of paper had to be manually filed.  It was a mind-bendingly boring job –but the pay was poor.  Do you remember when the minimum wage was 1.25 an hour.? That’s right, math majors: that comes out to 40 hours work for a salary of $50 a week salary. I quickly realized college would be part of my future so I saved what I could.


The high point of my “work” week was the Thursday evening bowling league. (see above)  Every department (eg, underwriting, actuarial, records) had a team,  which together created the  league.  The best bowler averaged 180.  (The same as my Father when our extended family had a night out.)  My fellow employees went to dinner and then talked as much as they bowled during the evening.  The “third place” was more enjoyable and educational than my work place. And it paid almost as well (ie, nothing).

Where is your “third place?”


About rcarmean

Two things... First, why have I decided to establish this blog? I like to put essays together. I research an idea or topic looking for information, statistics, stories, quotes, pictures, etc. I enjoy the process and seeing a finished product. I’m told that as I get older, new activities can help maintain energy and keep my brain alert. In other words, I am not doing this for money or fame. Second, regarding the gentleman in the collage of pictures's not me. Those are photos of Christy Mathewson. Why him? When I was young, my primary activity was being sick. It took up much of my time. Eczema (a case so bad I was written up in a medical journal showing doctors what their patients COULD look like), asthma, and allergies. You know allergies: don’t eat this, don’t wear that, and, for Heaven’s sake, don’t touch any of these things (eg, dogs, cats, horses --I only saw horses in cowboy movies and TV shows, dust, swimming pools, my brother --OK, that’s an exaggeration, Rick was a fine brother). In my spare time between doctors' appointments, pills, and ointments, baseball kept me sane. In the 1940s and 1950s, when I grew up, pro footballI and basketball had not yet become extremely popular. Baseball truly was “the national pastime.” I listened to games on the radio (remember it? TV without the picture). I read magazines, books, and newspaper accounts of games. I collected baseball cards. I learned about the game’s history, as well as present. The same with its stars. One man stood out: Christy Mathewson. He was a great pitcher for the New York Giants in the early 20th century. But there was much more to him. At a time when professional athletes made little money (yes, there was such a time) and ball players were considered on the same level as actors, artists, and prostitutes, Mathewson stood out. One of his nicknames was: “The Christian Gentleman.” Most men is baseball drank, smoked, cursed, and fought —with other players, umpires, and fans. The fights were physical, not just verbal. Mathewson did none of these things. But he earned the respect of other players who did them all. Even Ty Cobb and John McGraw. There’s more. He was a college graduate (Bucknell University) when most men were lucky to have a high school diploma. He played other sports, including pro football which you wouldn’t recognize. He was handsome. He played in New York City, then as now, the largest city in the country. Excellence and popularity there meant fame and money. He dressed well. Today, his commercials would rival LeBron’s. And, finally, a hero’s life must have tragedy. After his playing career ended, WWI arrived. He suffered from influenza and was exposed to mustard gas. Chemical warfare. His lungs were damaged and he required treatment for the rest of his life. (Like my Grandfather who also fought in The Great War.) He died in 1925. He was 45 years old. I have his picture here because you need to know more about him than me. He was what an athlete could be. Players like him and their accomplishments got me through a sickly, painful childhood and can still sustain me in difficult times. *****
This entry was posted in Entertainment, People, Places, Pop Culture, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s