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pipesbywhitney
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Joined: 27 Feb 2009
Posts: 5487


Location: Lakeland, Fla.

PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 5:45 pm    Post subject:  Reply with quote

I had two pipe-smoking grandfathers. One, who brought my mother and his family to the U.S. from Switzerland aboard the Lusitania in 1914 a couple of trips before she was sunk. He was a German Reform Minister who served churches in The Dakotas and Saskatchewan until his death. Unfortunately my mother died about six weeks after I was born so I saw little of this magnificent gentleman but I do remember him and his pipes – the long cavalier that reached to the floor as he sat in a chair puffing away and his eloquent meerschaum calabashes from which poured clouds of smoke that totally fascinated this young boy. He lived to be 88 happily puffing away.

My other pipe-smoking grandfather and my grandmother were responsible for raising an older brother and me for several years after my mother died and until my father remarried. They were basically my early parents. My grandfather was a member of the Ohio State Senate from the rural area of the state just north of Columbus. He would sometimes take me to work with him, especially on my birthday when I would share a birthday cake with then Gov. John Bricker who was the vice presidential running mate of Thomas E. Dewey in the great l948 loss to Harry S Truman! I never grew up understanding that all children did not ride to work with their grandfather in a classic Packard sport coupe – whitewall-encased spare tires appropriately inserted in each front fender well – and eat their birthday cakes in the Governor’s Office!

It was the era of The Great Depression, prior to World War II, days when an occasional man would knock on the back door of the house in which we lived and ask for some work in exchange for a meal. My grandmother, properly schooled by Episcopal nuns in a convent-school in Colorado, would suggest some chore – picking apples, cherries, etc., from the trees in the yard – while preparing them a proper dinner. Their dinner was served to them on the back porch as they sat on a step and ate from china, complete with a cloth napkin and a glass of ice tea cooled with cubes into which she had frozen a mint leaf.

There were a lot of pipe smokers around in those days. I don’t remember the brands they smoked, nor the tobaccos they favored except many seemed to like pouches of Bull Durham and tins of Prince Albert from which they would both fill their pipes and roll an occasional cigarette.

I do remember my grandfather, who lived to be 96, favored Granger tobacco because it had a picture of his favorite pointer on the can. He also favored apple and medium pot shaped pipes with an occasional billiard. I don’t recall him ever having more than a half dozen in his rack.

While there was a certain sense of propriety to the way I was raised there also was another dimension to it – the rural way of life – that has always tempered my living.

I was taught early on that smoking a clean pipe was the best way to enjoy it and that it was the smoker’s responsibility to keep it clean.

We spent a lot of our leisure time in the outdoors – hunting, fishing, etc. – and at one point owned a small farm not far from town where we raised sheep and other crops.

I learned my pipe restoring techniques from the older men whom I admired sitting on the steps of the Porter Township Grange Hall after a Saturday morning fox hunt or quietly enjoying the evening on the front porch of Crowl’s General Store in Olive Green.

It was a right of passage to get one’s own pocketknife and I eventually earned mine. The pocketknife was the ultimate tool. With it you carefully shaved the bowl of your pipe after every few smokes, and you removed and swabbed out the air channel. When pipe cleaners were not available a blade of grass or piece of straw would be used. A little saliva on the bowl rim would retard any darkening of the briar. A little nose wax was sufficient to keep the stem properly oiled and give the briar’s patina a presentable gloss.

I remember one man telling me as he cleaned his pipe with a needle file that it was important to keep the air channel wide open if you wanted a good smoke and he pointed out to me that his Yello-Bole was far superior to other pipes “because it doesn’t have all that metal junk!”
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Dave Whitney - Author of "OLD BRIAR" book on restoring and trading estate pipes. Available via Amazon.Kindle.
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Kentuck
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Joined: 07 Jan 2014
Posts: 2656


Location: Kentucky

PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 7:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My Grandpap was mainly a pipe smoker with an occasional roll your own cigarette. He smoked PA in his pipe but seemed to prefer Bull Durham for his cigarettes. He also smoked a brand called Buffalo and one called simply RJR. He smoked enough of this that Grandma made a quilt liner from empty tobacco sacks sewn together. It was a waste not want not sort of time. All the girls used to cut the Prince Albert cans into long strips and wrap them in cloth. Made great hair curlers. My Great Aunt smoked a small pipe and chewed also. She had a special kind of tobacco she had shipped in to the local post office/store in small barrels for chewing. She called it Tennessee Narrow Leaf. She was from Tennessee and I think maybe her relatives grew it. Grandpap said it was called Bull Tongue. It didn't look like the burley we grew. It had a much darker and narrower leaf. After Church was the time young boys and girls got together and "Sparked." The walk home down the dirt roads fostered many a romance. I know some of these girls chewed. It was not considered proper for a girl to smoke cigarettes for some reason. Wearing mens trousers and too much rouge and facepowder was off limits too. When they ganged up whispering and fell back on the walk home you could pretty well figure these Mountain Belles were passing around the chewing tobacco pouch. Beechnut seemed to be their standard of excellence. Snuff seemed to be more popular with the ladies than with men. Bruton, Garett, and Rosebud are the snuffs I remember. Always taken by mouth with a little chewed willow twig to keep things stirred up. I never once saw anyone snort it. Some people say they were born a hundred years too late. I'm not one of them. I was fortunate? enough to be born and raised in a place that was frozen in time. I'm still not over the shock of the 20th century much less the 21st.
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Rustiepyles
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Joined: 09 Feb 2015
Posts: 467


Location: Kansas City, Kansas

PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2015 12:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have an elderly cousin who is a pipe smoker, i had refurbed and repaired a handful of pipes for him. He showed me the rest of his pipes most of them were glued together and had tape holding them together. None had any finish to speak of and all the stems were green as could be. But he seemed to as happy as could be to puff away on one of theses pipes that most of  us would considered to far gone to smoke. He was like a kid in candy store when I gave him the handful of refinished pipes, he said these are to nice to smoke.
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Kentuck
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Joined: 07 Jan 2014
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Location: Kentucky

PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2015 12:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just like today there were people back then who took better care of their pipes than others. To some it was just a tool to burn tobacco in and there's a lot to be said for that viewpoint. I saw a picture of Mark Twain's Peterson pipe somewhere on the internet. Donated by his daughter to a Connecticut museum in his old home. It looked pretty well flogged out. In his book Roughing It he even commented on the pleasure of smoking an old oily blackened pipe over a new shiny one. In Innocents Abroad he seemed to take great pleasure is asphyxiating his companions with an old pipe he surmised once belonged to The Witch of Endor. To each his own. Very Happy
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Troy_nov1965
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Joined: 25 May 2014
Posts: 5080


Location: Blue Ridge Mountains of Va.

PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2015 12:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love reading this post .
My family had a couple of pipe smokers at one time . Two of my uncles , both WW2 veterans.
My grandma  loved Navy snuff .
I knew a lot of old timers who chewed baccy .
I too grew up an a few small farms and started dipping Copenhagen  and chewing Levi Garrett at around 14.
Then at about 19 i started smoking Camel non filters and Marlboro reds with a dip  Copenhagen  here and there .

As Lonnie stated they are all gone now on to their rewards but i have fond memories of the old men in their bibed overhauls chewing baccy and holding court at the local store . Sneaking a sip of shine here and there that was hid in someones  pick up truck .

Simple good men who enjoyed simple pleasures  and what America stood for . Wish i could go back to that time for a day and really appreciate it for what it was .

As George Bernard Shaw said ....."Youth is wasted on the young "
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Smoking pipes and spinning vinyl....life is good.
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Wildcat
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Joined: 23 Feb 2012
Posts: 1961


Location: Hudson Falls, NY 12839

PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2015 12:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kentuck wrote:
Just like today there were people back then who took better care of their pipes than others. To some it was just a tool to burn tobacco in and there's a lot to be said for that viewpoint. I saw a picture of Mark Twain's Peterson pipe somewhere on the internet. Donated by his daughter to a Connecticut museum in his old home. It looked pretty well flogged out. In his book Roughing It he even commented on the pleasure of smoking an old oily blackened pipe over a new shiny one. In Innocents Abroad he seemed to take great pleasure is asphyxiating his companions with an old pipe he surmised once belonged to The Witch of Endor. To each his own. Very Happy
If memory serves, didn't Twain pay fellas to smoke his pipes for a while so that they were well broken in when he got them back?
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Kentuck
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Joined: 07 Jan 2014
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Location: Kentucky

PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2015 1:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote=[/quote]If memory serves, didn't Twain pay fellas to smoke his pipes for a while so that they were well broken in when he got them back?[/quote]Just his cobs and just one man. He said he had hired a derelict with no family and not much reason for living anyway to break them in. He must have not liked the taste of a new cob very much! His cobs probably had reed stems. He kept the bowl in his tobacco pouch and the stem in his shirt pocket like a pencil. When he took the bowl out it was already filled. All he had to do is plug in the stem and fire it up. Laughing
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Mickey
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Joined: 07 Nov 2014
Posts: 613


Location: Hamilton, OH

PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2015 12:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can just barely remember Daddy smoking an apple or a billiard (didn't know pipes at that tender age). Do remember his pipe rack with a glass tobacco jar. Would love to have those now.

Lonnie, being such a Twain fan, do you watch Hal Holbrook's performances on YouTube, etc? Watched a documentary/interview of him. Amazing the way he has dedicated his life to that craft. Back in my Harley Davidson days took a little weekend trip to Hannabil. Like going back in a time capsule to his young days on the river. Would be a dream come true to go to Hartford and tour his home.

How am I doing so far on stealing this thread?  Embarassed
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pipesbywhitney
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Joined: 27 Feb 2009
Posts: 5487


Location: Lakeland, Fla.

PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2015 3:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mickey wrote:
Can just barely remember Daddy smoking an apple or a billiard (didn't know pipes at that tender age). Do remember his pipe rack with a glass tobacco jar. Would love to have those now.

Lonnie, being such a Twain fan, do you watch Hal Holbrook's performances on YouTube, etc? Watched a documentary/interview of him. Amazing the way he has dedicated his life to that craft. Back in my Harley Davidson days took a little weekend trip to Hannabil. Like going back in a time capsule to his young days on the river. Would be a dream come true to go to Hartford and tour his home.

How am I doing so far on stealing this thread?  Embarassed


I went and saw Holbrook in person do the Mark Twain show and two minutes into it you didn't know it was Holbrook. It was like being in the same room with Mark Twain and him talking personally to you. Over the last 60 years or so I have been to Hannibal several times and like the rest of the country it is slowly growing out of the touch of old Americana it seemed to have in the mid-20th Century. Dave
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Kentuck
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Joined: 07 Jan 2014
Posts: 2656


Location: Kentucky

PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2015 5:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I saw Holbrook's Twain performance on TV and it was very good. Twain had a uniquely American take on things. In my opinion, his books are where he comes alive. He has a way of reaching out from the pages and touching a spot buried in the things that make us who we are and where we came from as a nation struggling with becoming a new player on the world stage. He is brash, irreverent, plain speaking, and pushy. So were we, and had a worldwide reputation for being just that.


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