The first run through of the sentence read:
Of course, spellcheck didn’t recognize the word possibles. (Spellcheck doesn’t recognize the word spellcheck, either.) Neither does my Websters or any online dictionary. Possibles is an arcane word. I say that because it’s one of those words still known to a few of us who’ve listened carefully to the idioms of people who used words like icebox. Otherwise it is lost, or at least fast fading from the lexicon.
Possibles once meant one of two things:
Those possessions which it was possible to take or carry about. The stuff that would fit on your covered wagon. Which implies a need to prioritize one’s possibles.
In one sense, one’s possibles were his survival kit. Hunters and frontiersmen had things called possibles bags, which contained their gunpowder, rifle shot, etc., which made shooting game possible. You can still find “possibles bags” or “possibles pouches” on the Internet, some made in old-fashioned styles.
Here’s an example of a modern possibles bag, with the blogger’s explanation of what he’s putting in it.
In the movie Jeremiah Johnson, the title character – played by Robert Redford – meets up with a pilgrim name Del Gue, who has been attacked by Blackfeet Indians. They buried him up to his neck and stole his horse, his rifle and his pelts. Johnson agrees to help him get them back.
Having found the enemy’s camp, they discuss whether to attack at once or wait until the men are asleep. Del Gue wants his stolen things, and he also wants revenge. Johnson insists on waiting, and avoiding a fight. “I have no truck with them Blackfeet, I plan to be here a long time.”
After dark, he says, “Should be no trouble to slip in there and then get your possibles.”
That’s a correct usage of the word, I think. It’s that which makes your living possible, your essential stuff. And what’s better than to have such a useful word as that?