Leaving a Mark | July 2017

“What are we, a mile from the sun?” asked Lawrence Bourne III in one of Tom Hanks’ lesser films. Hanks played Lawrence, a spoiled rich kid that inadvertently gets himself enrolled in the Peace Corp and shipped off to the tropics.   The only thing I remember about the movie was the Hanks character getting off an airplane with the temperature reaching for the 100s and the humidity over 90, and asking that (presumably) rhetorical question. That, and John Candy playing the lovable lug loser he did so often, “Hi, Tom Tuttle from Tacoma!”

Have you been outside this month? It is hot, Robin Williams as Adrian Cronauer as Roosevelt the weather reporter hot. They tell me the Southwestern United States is worse, but it’s a “dry heat”. Yeah, so is my oven, but I don’t want to vacation there.

After Dad died five years ago, my siblings and I elected to let the U of F football tickets go after 50 years. It was hard to let go of so many memories, but not nearly so hard to let go of sitting in the 1:00 early September Florida sun with 85,000 other overweight, overheated alumni.

You’ll have to tell me if it’s age, too many days at the desk in air conditioning, or climate change, but this heat is hard to tolerate anymore. Summer used to be my favorite season. I still enjoy it, but I do like a little breeze and some shade to go with it now. But at least we have hurricane season to look forward to … or not.

So far, you may be wondering what this column has to do with investing. I haven’t been able to find anything yet either, but maybe it’s taking shape.   Although, as Sigmund Freud didn’t say, ‘Sometimes a weather discussion is just a weather discussion.”

But despite the heat, people from all over the world are flocking to the Florida theme parks. I heard a news story that said Disney World had increased ticket prices, only to see attendance increase. The number of people that will take kids in strollers to the Orlando parks in the middle of summer is a constant source of amazement to me. I’m not critical mind you, I’m happy for the people and the parks, but the parks start to lose their magic for me somewhere in the high 70s – temperature and capacity percentage both.

Although I’m skipping the parks this season, I am doing my part to celebrate the time honored family vacation. This year, since all the little urchins are grown and gainfully employed, time off is at a premium so it’s just a few days at the beach. I’m taking the whole crew to Vero. We’re going to the east coast since that’s what my parents and grandparents did for me. Those granddaughters of mine are just the right age for playing in the surf and pathetic attempts at sand castles.

So there we are. I found an investment theme after all.   It’s about giving back. We started with Tom Hanks joining the Peace Corp and somehow got to keeping family traditions alive.

My siblings and I had a text-based discussion about our ancestors just this past weekend. My sister has done the research on the websites and in the graveyards to identify people going back about four generations. Before that, it’s pretty much a mystery.   It occurred to me that so many of us work so hard to make our ‘mark’ and except for a famous few, we tend to disappear from memory in a just a few generations.

Realizing this, it seems that maybe I don’t need to join find a cure for the incurable or even join the Peace Corp to be a person that makes a better world. Maybe, going outside in the heat and teaching a grandchild to ride the waves on a raft, to tie a fish hook, to earn a dollar and to save one too, how to cook for one or twenty, and how to be a family, maybe these, and a few more, will do.

And, oh yes, if you’re doing the same this summer, remember have a little fun while you’re at it.