Let’s return now to a more romantic and simpler time when pace and society were slower.
It’s the 1940s just after the end of World War II. Soldiers are returning home to pick up their lives and loves.
The nation was doing its best to reboot to whatever normal was, to get back to life before the chaos of the wartime effort.
It was okay now to boogie-woogie and not worry about having to ship out to some far distant, dangerous battleground. There were no more frontlines in war zones.
Bing Crosby, who had done so much during the conflict to entertain the troops, along with his pal Bob Hope, was almost a constant source of joy.
His creamy singing voice oozed hope, joy, fun. Life was “White Christmas” and the sweetly emotional, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”.
Bing’s movies with the sloop-nose comedian Bob Hope were instant hits for a re-emerging society, ready for the new, for excitement and happiness.
One of Bing’s best quotes is about his BFF Bob Hope:
“There is nothing in the world I wouldn’t do for (Bob) Hope, and there is nothing he wouldn’t do for me…We spend our lives doing nothing for each other.”
I recall listening to Crosby sing on the radio. Yes, this was before my family was able to afford a television set.
The screen of our first TV was about the size of the bottom of a Mason jar, to give you some dated idea of the days then.
It seemed in my childhood mind Crosby was always on the radio singing. It was moving because people around me were happier, more relaxed from worry about loved ones.
Spirits seemed freer and music was gaining new breath. Crosby was a fresh breeze blowing through the radio and recording industries.
In many of the photos I saw of Crosby, he had a long-stemmed pipe clenched in his mouth or held it in his hand.
Naturally, I assumed that the pipe was part of the reason for that most wonderful and buttery baritone voice gracing the birth of a new and prosperous era in America.
Seeing Crosby with that long pipe hanging from his mouth embedded in my imagination. If Bing Crosby could smoke a pipe and have such success with singing and making popular movies, I thought I could do just about anything I imagined as well.
Of course, I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. But it was just so confirming to see the “Crooner,” “der Bingle” smoking a pipe.
That set my course early on. I always enjoyed Bing Crosby’s beautiful voice. And his “White Christmas” just made the holidays special.
So, on this anniversary month of Bing Crosby’s birth 118 years ago, I just thought a bit of reminiscing was in order.
I have also snitched a few of his quotes which can be found in an excellent article, “Bing Crosby: Singer, Actor, Pipe Smoker,” March 19, by Jeffery Sitts in Pipe Line at Smokingpipes.com.
And here are parts of the quotes that strike a note with the Pundit (pun intended):
Crosby answered the question of “is a more expensive pipe a better smoking pipe” conundrum easily enough when he said the price is not the thing that really counts. It’s the care you take with your pipe that is important.
He said it mattered how you break in a pipe and “. . .the frequency with which it is cleaned, and the care that it receives while it is being smoked.”
And some advice on how he broke in his pipes is something I still do with my new pipes, even though modern-day bowls have, for the most part, other stuff lining them to supposedly enhance caking.
Bing said he used a bit of honey to help break in his pipes. I, too, did that long ago, and occasionally now.
An old-timer showed me this trick of dabbing a pad of honey on the tip of my finger and rubbing it inside the bowl. Sometimes, I added a bit of pipe ash to the gooey honey.
Then I would, as Bing, said. . . .” fill about one-quarter of the bowl and start right in smoking.”
Next, excellent advice from the Crooner on the way to keeping a friend for life. Bing said the best way to preserve your pipe for long-time enjoyment was to break it in correctly and take care of it.
Then, he said, “. . . you’ll have a real friend for life. After all, there’s nothing like a good pipe and a good tobacco.”
And, by the way, if you haven’t tried C&D’s Crooner blend, you might give it a whirl. It is made from what is said to be an old recipe created especially for Bing.
That recipe later found its way to C&D. It is blended with a bit of deertongue (Trilisa odoratissima), but don’t let that throw you off. It isn’t Bambi’s tongue we are talking here.
In fact, the C&D website says Crooner is specially cut, a cube-style Burley with Deertongue tobacco, . . . “an authentic copy of Bing Crosby’s private blend, shared with us by one of his closest friends.”
Deertongue is a perennial herb. Its deciduous leaves are dried and then ground up to add a vanilla flavoring to tobacco.
Deertongue isn’t for every pipe smoker, of course. And the Crooner might be a tad harsh for some. I’ve tried it and like it in small bowls.
I take my time puffing tobacco with deertongue. I’m a Vitamin N wuss, you see, so I learned a good many years ago, you don’t win if you fool with mother nature and her Vitamin N.
Crosby was born May 3, 1903, in Tacoma, Washington, and died Oct. 14, 1977, in Madrid, Spain, after playing a round of golf.
Now for a parting shot: You are familiar with PAD and TAD, of course, the bane of pipe smokers everywhere. You buy pipes and tobacco with Olympic speed. I feel your pain.
Now, I would like to submit one more to the addiction lineup. Let’s call it AAD, or accessory addiction disorder.
I have pipe tools dating to the early 1900s, meaning my grandpa’s old knife, with which he used to ream his pipes.
I have pipe tools, bags, pouches, and gizmos I’ve forgotten the names of or what their intended use might have been.
So, when Smokingpipes.com offered a Sherlock Holmes pewter tamper with the purchase of a Peterson Sherlock Holmes pipe not long ago, of course, I had to have both.
And it is well-known around these parts, I need another pipe and another pipe accessory like I need another hip or knee joint to fail.
Yes, I sprung for the Sherlockian Professor PSB by Peterson, and with it came the pewter tamper.
Is this a great hobby or what?
Photo by Fred Brown
Fred Brown's Pipe Smoking lifestyle meanderings for May 2021