The Word - Vol 13
It Was 40 Years Ago Today
Where did all the pipe smokers go? I haven’t seen one in years! I checked with my friends at Google, and asked that very question. Google says, "Pipe smoking has been dwindling since the 1960s, but is still favoured by a small percentage (approximately 1.5%) of smokers in the U.S. today, especially older men. Pipe smoking is still common in Sweden, as many as one-quarter of adult males smoke a pipe.”
I don’t see many pipe smokers around here. A couple of months ago I did see a guy in White Rock walking down the street smoking a pipe. I should have run across the street and followed him, just to be able to smell the aroma of pipe tobacco smoke again, it would have taken me back to my childhood.
I’m thinking, you haven’t given the slightest thought about pipe smokers, have you? Well, I have, it’s near and dear to my heart, for you see my Dad was a pipe smoker, and so was his Dad. For my Dad, his pipe was always within reach, and I don’t remember seeing him without it. At my soccer games, and baseball games I could easily pick him out of the crowd on the sidelines. He was the one with the pipe in his mouth!
I often marveled at the patience he had with that thing. He was forever relighting it, and every so often he’d knock out the burned-up tobacco, fill the pipe again, and light it, and light it, and light it again. It seemed to be a full-time job! I guess that’s why you don’t see many pipe smokers around these days, it’s too much work! Nobody has that much patience anymore.
Packing tobacco into a pipe is an art, it can’t be packed too tight, and it can’t be too loose, and once the pipe is packed, the lighting of the tobacco is crucial to achieving an even burn. I’m guessing the whole procedure becomes more of a pastime than work. That process has been said to be “a slow and relaxing experience that can’t be rushed, and requires time and patience.” That fact alone explains why a car salesman once told me that if a person came onto the car lot smoking a pipe, the salespeople would run in the opposite direction! Nobody wanted to talk to him, he said it was because pipe smokers were notorious for taking forever to make a decision. As I think back on it, my Dad and my Grandfather were both men of few words, were calm, and never rushed into anything, and their pipe was a form of relaxation for them.
Grandpa would come to visit on Sundays, and after dinner, he and my Dad would sit and enjoy a puff on their pipes before setting up the card table for the weekly cribbage tournament. And yes, those were the days when it was quite acceptable to smoke in the house, long before it was banished to small designated areas 20 feet from the nearest doorway. It was when almost every room in every house had one or more ashtrays on the tables.
Our family home was a treasure trove of pipes and pipe accessories, and beautiful wooden tobacco chests to store it all. I have one of the chests to this day. Dad had 3 of them, and my sisters and I each got one on his passing. He had more than a dozen pipes, but would usually stick to one or two of his favourites. There were also tins of Edgeworth pipe tobacco that he would transfer into a tobacco pouch that fit in his pocket. He also had a metal pick device that was used to scrape out the bowl of the pipe when the tobacco residue would pile up. Pipe cleaners were also stored in the tobacco chest, and when was the last time you saw pipe cleaners? Apparently, they’re now more commonly used in children’s craft projects.
Aside from all the accessories, there was an endless supply of matches. Dad preferred wooden matches that came in a little cardboard matchbox, I think they were Eddy’s brand, and he must have gone through hundreds of thousands of them in his lifetime.
Back in those days, the ’50s and '60s, there were a number of famous pipe smokers, people like Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart, Bing Crosby, Ernest Hemingway, and even Albert Einstein whose love of pipes extended to his work with his famous equation E=mc2 engraved on a pipe he owned. Winston Churchill was often photographed holding a cigar, but he was also a pipe smoker. He was known for smoking his pipes during important meetings, and he called his pipes his “companions."
One of the great quotes about pipes comes from author Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the legendary detective Sherlock Holmes. Doyle once said, “the pipe draws wisdom from the lips of the philosopher, and shuts the mouth of the foolish.”
And with that insight in mind, perhaps we need more pipe smokers these days!
Dad passed away 40 years ago today. I miss him every day, and I miss the wonderful aroma of the smoke from his pipe.
Until next week...
Photo (L-R): Wayne as a kid, his Dad, and his grandfather on the right. Both with their pipes
Hanging out in the Blue Frog Gift Shop, a trio of great vocalists!
Mike Reno (Loverboy) Katherine St.Germaine (Ladies Sing the Blues) and Alfie Zappacosta
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1328 Johnston Road
White Rock, BC • Canada V4B 3Z2
White Rock, BC • Canada V4B 3Z2