Memories Up in Smoke

Denise Bisogno

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

25 Responses

  • When my sons were growing up they’d sit each evening in the living room with me as I packed, lit & smoked my pipe and watched TV or talked about the days events. The memories they have negate any of the hype being used today concerning the evils of the weed and instead they recall the aroma, the ritual and the comfort of knowing Dad was home relaxing with his family each night. The article brings to mind the bittersweet understanding that we leave mostly snippets of dear memories when we leave this earth. Nice article & thanks for it.

  • Thank you Ms. Bisogno for quite an interesting take on your memories! Earlier today on the forum I was reminiscing about a time 25 years ago when I took up pipe smoking. Many things have changed since then, but I consider myself a fortunate man to have met someone very schooled in pipes that took me under his wing. Oh the memories!!!!

  • This was excellent! Thankyou Denise for writing, and thankyou Kevin for putting this up. I also have memories like this from a little boy’s perspective, and now having three little daughters I’ve been hoping they will later in life have the same kinds of memory associations with my smoking, and remember me fondly for it (as well as other things too). Thankyou for confirming my hopes. 🙂

  • My Grandfather was a pipe smoker as well and I totally relate to your tale. I keep a pouch of his blend for those times when I just need that pat on the head he would give me when I was a child. I quit smoking cigs when I became a Grandfather and she will only ever know her PawPaw smoked a pipe.

  • Thanks for sharing your memories, Denise. The smell of tobacco brings back memories of lost loved ones for many of us.
    In creating memories, making the delicious tobacco smells is the easy part. May we live in such a way that the memories evoked will always be pleasant ones.

  • That was a great read. I do occasionally get the “that smells good, and reminds me of my Grandfather” comment from time to time. I think it’s about a good a compliment as you can get. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • The power of an odor to trigger memories and emotions is remarkably strong. In fact, signals from our olfactory region (in our nasal cavity) travel directly through the limbic system, which is the part of our brain responsible for memory and emotions. For this reason it appears, smells can prompt amazingly vivid memories and trigger extreme emotional responses from people.

  • I have fond memories of an elderly neighbor couple who lived next door to my parents. I was four or five years old and I would often spend summer afternoons hanging out in their back yard. Mrs. Henson would bring me ginger ale and Mr. Henson, who was completely blind at this point, would load his pipe and tell me stories or sing old Irish tunes while puffing away on his bowl of Sir Walter Raleigh Aromatic.

  • Thanks for the encouraging article. I continue following the lovely ladies with a pipe in hand. Is it stalking? No. I’m leaving a positive impression. 🙂

  • Thanks for a positive article on a non-smokers view of our hobby. It’s very encouraging to hear that not everyone looks upon us as evil.

  • Very good essay, reminds us of why we took up a pipe to begin with, and maybe what our legacy will remember of each of us. Thanks!

  • Thanks for sharing those wistful remembrances, and providing the affirmation and encouragement we all need sometimes. It’s comforting to know we “ghost” our acquaintances as well as our pipes (that’s a pipe smoking inside joke Kevin will explain.)

  • Thanks for sharing. I get lots of people comment in a positive way about the smell of my pipe, but I’ll admit when I’m out in public I almost always smoke Captain Black, people love the smell of the Captain.

  • Yeah olfactory memory cues are some of the strongest of memory cues. My grandfather was also a pipe and cigar smoker and the smell of Half And Half, Captain Black, Sail and even zippo fluid instantly bring him to mind when present. A great article. Nice to be thought of as a memory maker rather than scoffed at for smoking.

  • My son is two years old, I hope that he and his children in the future feel the same way about my pipe.

  • Maybe we should hang out and smoke pipes on the way to polling places. It would be great if we could remind people of these kinds of memories before they click YES on another smoking ban that throws pipers under the bus.

  • thank you young lady, you have brought a bit of joy to an old man’s heart. i hope you will always be able to find the smell of a good tobacco burning in a pipe, and it always takes you to that special place.

  • Great article! My maternal Grandfather smoked a pipe and rolled his own cigarettes using Prince Albert. One of the big treats for us kids who were interested was that on Christmas Eve he would let us roll his cigarettes for him! I always thought that was the greatest thing that I had ever done until he showed me how to make a corn cob pipe!

  • Several men in my family smoked pipes occasionally but it is a great-uncle who I remember sitting and talking with while he smoked. He was a rough fellow, ex-railroader, but a genuinely nice guy and he always made me feel welcome. There is something about pipes that has an uncanny to connect us to our past. The aroma is important but I think it goes beyond a simple smell – somehow the simple, quiet times that go with pipe smoking make lasting good memories.