Pipes, People and Dealing with Stress

Relaxing with a PipeThere’s no doubt, that the taste of our favorite tobacco blend is not the only reason many of us light up our favorite pipe. After a tough day doing whatever it is that we do there’s nothing quite like sitting back and contemplating what’s happened while we enjoy the simple pleasure of a pipe and that blend that we like so much.

It’s a time for reflection … for planning … problem solving and just plain daydreaming about what we could be doing and where we might be going. Now if you and I do that while we’re enjoying a bowl, what must some of the famous and talented people who are or were pipe smokers reflect on or think about over their evening pipe?

For example, what went through the mind of Franklin D. Roosevelt as he puffed on his pipe? Not only did he lead America out of the Great Depression but also led it through the dark days of World War II. The PR people of the day must have thought a lot of his pipe smoking, for there were many images produced of the wartime President smoking a pipe. Perhaps that pipe not only helped the President reflect on each day but also gave some comfort to the American people and helped them to feel safe and secure.

Another wartime leader who smoked a pipe was Ben Chifley who served as the Australian Prime Minister towards the end of the war. Ben Chifley was also well-known in Australia as the railroad locomotive driver who rose to the very top of the political tree … an ordinary man who achieved extraordinary things and yet his pipe seemed to be his link to the common people.

General Douglas MacArthur was another wartime leader … and hero … who smoked a pipe and I’m sure that you’ve seen some of the wartime press photos showing him smoking his somewhat unusual corncob pipe. Did he do his dreaming and planning over a late night smoke?

Other war heroes who went on to become President of the United States and who smoked a pipe include John F Kennedy, Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Imagine what it would have been like to sit with them and share their thoughts over an after-dinner pipe.

Hugh M. Hefner
photo by Alan Light
General Douglas McArthur Albert Einstein

Of course they weren’t the only pipe smoking Presidents and those Presidents had a few enemies who also smoked a pipe. They include Richard Nixon, Herbert Hoover, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and Josef Stalin.

Neil Armstrong the astronaut, Wyatt Earp, Sigmund Freud, Alexander Graham Bell, Davy Crockett, Bat Masterson, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, A. A. Milne and the famous Dr. Seuss all shared a love of pipe smoking and you have to wonder what some of these men thought about as they pondered life while smoking their favorite pipe.

Did Doctor Seuss see his cat for the first time in the swirls of smoke from his pipe? And did Winnie the Pooh … that famous bear who loved honey so much … first appear tentatively in the quiet reflective periods that A. A. Milne must have enjoyed as he smoked his pipe of an evening?

Did Charles Darwin wander the decks of the Beagle and formulate his theories regarding the origin of the species while he smoked a last pipe at night? Did Neil Armstrong look up at the moon on clear summer and winter nights and see what the future held for him in the mists of the smoke from his pipe?

There have been quite a few prominent actors and entertainers who have enjoyed a pipe too, Walter Cronkite, Bill Cosby, Greta Garbo, Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Danny Kaye, Henry Mancini, Jerry Lee Lewis, Aaron Spelling and the list goes on and on.

President Gerald R. Ford President Herbert Hoover A. A. Milne

Famous poets, famous authors, explorers, sporting identities, foreign leaders such as Pierre Trudeau from Canada, Lech Walesa from Poland and Harold McMillan from the United Kingdom smoked a pipe. Astronomers, publishers, artists, royalty and even at least one head of the CIA have all been pipe smokers too.

And of course, there’s you and me and lots of other ordinary people who all take great pleasure from smoking a pipe. Those famous people all enjoyed that period of quiet reflection that only a pipe can help you find and if a pipe helped them to cope with the stresses of their daily lives then it can undoubtedly help us too.

All we have to do is go somewhere quiet, sit back with our favorite blend, our favorite pipe and the something to light our pipe with and we too can enjoy a time of peace that will prepare us for the rigors of the next day. It’s that simple … it worked for all those famous people who lived such stressful lives and it can certainly work for us too.

And sometimes it might help to put yourself in the place of one of those famous people as you reflect on the challenges that you’ve faced that day and then you might see that what you have faced isn’t quite so tough to deal with after all.

See more famous pipe smokers at: Famous Pipe Smokers Blog

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6 Responses

  • Very thoughtful reflection. A few other names from our recent history include C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein — pipesmokers and close friends. What a privilege it would have been to sit dopwn withe the two of them one evening over a pipe.

  • Yeah! Where’s a time machine when we need one? LOL.
    I love J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I read all four books 3 times each when I was in my teens and have watched the movies at least 6 times each.

  • Re Gen. Douglas McArthur
    Apparently he adopted the “Corn Cob” from General of the Armies John Joseph “Black Jack” Pershing
    You can see a pic of Pershing at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_J._Pershing
    Some photographer apparently though it was a great homsey “Dough Boy” look to have McArthur with the Missouri Meerschaum and encouraged it, for propaganda reasons