"Could you pass me a match, too, Dave?"
The thermometer reads seventy degrees in January down here in Florida, and I’m quickly running out of my own matches in the breeze of an afternoon on my uncle’s patio. We’re enjoying some of his tobacco from the never-ending tub of Half & Half, which I’m finding quite agreeable for the weather. I offer him some of the Peterson Nutty Cut that I’ve brought down with me for the trip, but he passes on it with a wave, saying, "Not just now; that stuff smells too good. I’ll try some after dinner." And he’s right: the burley and bright Virginia blend we’re smoking is the perfect tobacco for the season, and it amuses me to realize how much of a tobacco snob I’ve become. The light and effortless drugstore blend proves to be an ideal companion to our afternoon chat, allowing for several refills without overdoing it on the nicotine, and burning easily in the mild atmosphere. This trip is a thankful reprieve from the grind of a long Manhattan winter for me; more than that, though, it’s a chance to reconnect with the family history, to listen to our stories, and to find something of my identity and legacy within that.
How refreshing it is to see, let alone a public figure, but a presidential candidate that dares to smoke his pipe in public, and have the newspapers capture it. Now that’s the good ole’ days brought back to modern times!
The January 25th Wall Street Journal had an article about the Czech Republic presidential race with a large photo of the 2nd place contender, Karel Schwarzenberg smoking a pipe. He is not just posing. He is actually smoking. You can see the smoke rising around his head, there are several other people in the room, and not one of them is confronting him about his pipe smoking.
Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! There are still small, tiny, little, infinitesimal pockets of sanity in the world when it comes to smoking.
This was sent in by Composer and pipe smoker Dan Locklair. Dan said; "How refreshing to have a distinguished current political figure photographed with his pipe AND the newspaper to show it with pride!"
Too bad Schwarzenberg didn’t win the election.
It’s quite interesting that the article says; "But one of the main reasons his backers believe he is more likely to be honest is that he is rich-and therefore above seeking financial benefits from his office."
That sentiment sure didn’t translate to the last US presidential election.
Here is the article and photo from the WSJ. Click it to enlarge.
Snobs, snobs, and more snobs are everywhere … and Reverse-Snobs too! … even in the small, little, teeny-tiny pipes and tobaccos community! It’s hard to decide which are more annoying. I have disdain for both, but I am leaning towards Reverse-Snobs being slightly more annoying. But wait. That’s not really correct. They are both equally obnoxious. For a moment, I was thinking of some of my friends and acquaintances that have some high-end pipes, and how cool these guys are … but they are not snobs. Hence the title of this article; paraphrased from the line in the movie, Forest Gump; "Stupid is as stupid does." "Gump’s ‘Stupid is as stupid does’ is a rejoinder, and a rather intelligent one. It means that calling a person stupid doesn’t make him stupid, that we know a person by his actions.
So without sounding too sappy or too grandiose—here is the simple fact, Your pipe smoking is making magical memories… .that’s right, I said it… it isn’t an annoyance, but rather an aroma we look for. It indicates you are close by and relaxing. As a grown-up who spent her childhood in the presence of "the pipe", I now long to smell that beautiful scent waft in the air. I see a guy on the street leaning in to light his pipe- and I linger, sometimes just come to a dead stop… just to catch a wiff of "my past". I stand there with a dumb grin and looking ridiculous I am sure. But I could care less because for that brief moment I am 8 and I am in my Grandfathers wood shop with him and he just finished making the most beautiful cabinet. He and I are sitting back admiring his work while he takes a break with a well deserved smoke.
Back then I never even gave that fleeting smoke billow a second thought. Years later, I long for it, I miss it. That soft billow of puff represented peace and stability for me. It gave me reassurance someone who loved me more than life itself was nearby. Now, just as that smoke drifted and disappeared ever so softly, sadly- so has my Grandfather. Life changed and I find myself longing to go back in time on most days.
So guys, know this; for me your smoke is not any sort of nuisance or annoyance, but rather a transparent memory drifting by me, transporting me to a time in life that was all perfect. Many people I speak to also agree with me as I blurt out in public- "Ahhh someone is smoking a pipe, and I LOVE IT!". Many people smile and will agree. I will always recall with a distinct warm fuzzy feeling, the smell of my Grandfather’s pipe-smoke. It causes me even now, to drift off to my happy childhood place- and enjoy the safety and serenity the sweet scent of hand packed tobacco being burned in that dark wooden pipe of his brings.
Someday, hopefully in a far off time, there will be people who recall your pipe smoke with a bittersweet ache in their heart and big goofy smiles, as they long for just a moment more with you. Rest assured your pipe’s smoke will cause some girl to stop dead in her tracks as it evokes a pleasant memory for her of you. Face it, you are creating the memory which will stand frozen in the mind, hearts and noses of those who love and treasure you. There is something about that aroma that gives us instant calm. It strangely is your calling card long after you are gone from this life.
The "old world "charm of a pipe’s aroma is the secret guilty pleasure we all silently welcome and value. It will become in many cases part of the description of your sweet presence and how you will be recalled to mind after you are gone, by those who love you. Part of your wonderful legacy will be your pipe’s wonderful aroma.
From the Publisher: Most times, us pipe smokers deal with the merciless vilification of all things tobacco. We get lumped in with cigarettes, lung cancer, air pollution, and the corruption and harm of small children. The general public, which is uneducated on tobacco, and immensely brain-washed by the "antis" propaganda constantly preaches and screeches of the evils of tobacco—pipe smokers included.
Today, something really nice happened. The author of the brief article you just read is a former neighbor and childhood classmate of mine. We haven’t seen each other or spoken in decades. I still remember riding my bike down Wood Avenue, and crossing Washington Place (near Farrington Lake) and peddling up the hill on Miriam Drive where she lived.
We "Friended" each other on Facebook last year, and occasionally "Liked" or commented on a post here and there, but nothing more, which seems pretty common with former schoolmates that haven’t seen each other in many years.
Well, I guess she has been following along with me a little more closely than I realized. (She is on my personal Facebook, and I don’t put a lot of pipe related stuff there.)
Pipe smokers are a small group. For most, if not all of us, we have more friends that do not smoke a pipe than ones that do. It’s probably also true that even though our friends put up with our pipe smoking, they most likely don’t get it.
Thank you Denise for getting it!
I am touched by your commentary, and for thinking of me and my publication for expressing your kind thoughts and memories.
- Kevin Godbee
My music teacher always smelled of pipe smoke. I started taking piano lessons from Charlie Rose (no association to the Channel 9 talk-show host) when I was only five years old, so I did not really know what the smell constantly lingering on him was, but I knew that it was there. I knew that it smelled great. It was as much a part of him as his cracked leather jacket and perfectly maintained trumpet.
I never had the grandfather that smoked a pipe—at least, not while I was alive—nor did I have the uncle or father. I had Charlie.
Tommy Zman is a "real" guy - someone who considers himself a throwback to a time when men were kings of the castle, and smoking a cigar (or pipe) in public didn’t label you an outcast and a pariah. He’s totally old-school, a down to earth guy with traditional values.
We received a fun and interesting email from Rick Newcombe the other day. Rick, the author of "In Search of Pipe Dreams", just came back from a trip to China and found that a smoking pipe is certainly a symbol of masculinity in that country. They demonstrate it in a amusing way. A smoking pipe symbol is used to designate the Men’s Restroom, whereas a high heel shoe designates the Lady’s Restroom.
I was in China earlier this month and spotted this universal artwork to designate "men’s rooms" and "women’s rooms." The toilets were at one of the ferry piers in Shanghai. I’m not sure what your pipe babes would do, but I thought many of your readers might find this interesting.
Here are the photos -
By Steve Stein
(Originally Published October 2009 in The Pipe Collector (Newsletter of the NASPC)
[Here's some great instructions that will give the most enjoyment while smoking your favorite pipes and tobaccos. Learn how to properly pack, light, tamp, & puff for maximum smoking enjoyment.]
I’ve smoked a pipe for 41 years but have really learned how to smoke more enjoyably during the last eight years. I learned to smoke a pipe from my role models (Grandfather, Father, Uncles and a favorite cousin). I also learned their habits, many of which I had to unlearn. I started with drugstore pipes and tobaccos and consequently scorched my mouth and tongue that was explained as ‘breaking in my mouth’. During my first year of college, a friend of mine dragged me to a local pipe shop and a whole new world of pipes and tobaccos emerged. I tried some high quality tobaccos and bought my first decent pipe. From then on I was hooked and my love affair with pipes, tobaccos and the various accessories was well entrenched. I actually got a job at the Edwards shop in Milwaukee and eventually joined the staff at Uhle’s Pipe Shop until I graduated. I would also take trips with the guys to Chicago to visit the shops there every couple of months. My taste in tobaccos gravitated from the aromatics to English and burleys but I was not able to acquire a taste for Virginia blends. I did a stint in the Army Reserves in California, more school in New York State, a job assignment in Florida and eventually wound up in Kansas City, all the while still making the rounds of the local pipe shops and still unable to enjoy Virginia blends.
A number of years into my Kansas City gig, a group of guys at our favorite pipe shop (Cigar & Tabac) decided to start a pipe club. One of the guys (Quinton Wells) insisted that I try his favorite tobaccos Beacon and Escudo. He took the time to explain some of the techniques that were necessary to enjoy Virginia blends. I was still not completely converted but this began my metamorphosis. I began to take notice of the various smoking habits of the guys around me who seemed to really enjoy smoking as a hobby. My observations lead me to learn that I had some habits that were preventing me from fully enjoying my smoking. Among others, I packed my tobacco with a heavy hand, tamped too often and with too much pressure, I puffed too aggressively, and I scorched my tobacco when lighting my pipe. After adjusting my technique (really re-learning how to smoke) I am now able to more fully enjoy my pipe smoking. I’ve shared some of my thoughts with the guys in the pipe club and was encouraged to share this with others who might wish to try some of these tips, hence the submission of this writing to NASPC.
By Michael P. Foley
Raised in a proud Irish American family - the "P" in my byline is for Patrick - the annual watching of the 1952 classic film The Quiet Man was a cherished ritual. Even before acquiring that marvel of technology, the VCR, we could always count on a UHF channel (remember those?) televising the movie around St. Patrick’s Day. No matter how many times I saw it, it was always a treat. John Wayne, who later said that this was the favorite of his movies, is superb as Sean Thornton, the quiet American who returns home to his native Ireland. And Maureen O’Hara is at her very best as Mary Kate Danaher, Thornton’s fiery, redheaded love interest. The humor is what jaded audiences today would call camp, but under John Ford’s masterful directorship, it is wonderfully human and always arch.
The Quiet Man is also, as one perceptive observer put it, "sex ed without the word ’sex’ ever being used." Issues involving sexuality, community, and marriage are explored in a way that preserves the innocence of the youngest viewers while giving the grown-ups something serious to ponder. Only in hindsight do I realize the debt I owe to The Quiet Man in teaching me the higher meaning of, rather than the mere biological facts about, the love between a man and a woman.
By Michael P. Foley
The current brouhaha over smoking has made everyone painfully aware of tobacco’s effects on the body, but it has also obscured a more profound reason for smoking’s popularity: its relation to the soul. As the heyday of smoking passes into the ashheap of history, it is meet that we reflect on this connection.
The soul, of course, is a complex thing. Long ago Plato suggested that we consider it as divided into three parts-the appetitive, spirited, and rational-that correspond to the three basic kinds of human desires: the desire to satisfy physical appetites, the desire for recognition, and the desire for truth. Once this tripartite division is recalled, tobacco’s relation to the soul becomes clear: the three prevalent types of smoking tobacco-cigarettes, cigars, and pipes-correspond to the three parts of the soul.