Not sure about yours, but in my case it was mostly numismatism (coin collecting) and philately (stamp collecting). Why those two? Easy. I role modeled two of my parents’ friends. One was a boyhood friend of my father, Sol Hasiuk, a pharmacist who happened to be into coin collecting. The other was a fellow Logan resident, Manfred (“Menash”) Mauskopf, who was into stamp collecting. The stamps never appealed to me as much as the coins, but both had in common a passion for pattern recognition. In the case of stamps it was largely about the international aspect of the stamp – the pictorial tied in to something of historical or cultural significance about the country of origin. In the case of coins it was more about the condition of the symbol itself. In both cases the rarity and condition of the item helped determine its value, but numismatics placed a premium on condition. Through coins I first learned about the three mints, Philadelphia, Denver and San Fran. Philly minted the most by far and therefore was the standard coin. It bore no extra symbol and held the least value. The coin originating in Denver had a “D” symbol in addition to the year, and was the second mint in terms of quantity of coins put into circulation each year. The San Francisco mint bore the “S” and was the rarest and therefore worth the most. It ultimately stopped producing yearly coins and took over the production of “proof” coinage from Philadelphia. West Point, from where I’m very proud to say our son Elliot graduated in 2004, also mints proof coins. Proof coins are the most valued of any year, as they aren’t put into circulation and have a special finish to resist the ravages of time.
It occurs to me now, some years later, that these two gentleman were more than kind souls who introduced me to a hobby. They were mentors in pattern recognition. In your case you may have had a childhood mentor in chess or something involving arts & crafts. Today’s New York Times carries an exquisite supplement on the Rolex Arts Weekend, celebrating the significance of mentoring.