Smoking just seemed to
by Delbert Trew
go along with pioneer, cowboy life
every old-time photo of an early day pioneer or cowboy shows the tell-tale tag
of a sack of tobacco hanging from a shirt or vest pocket. Smoking just seemed
to go along with the Old West life.|
Many a western novel has been enhanced
by the scene of a "tough customer" pausing to roll and smoke a "roll-your-own"
I've known old-timers who could take out cigarette paper,
pour tobacco, then with one hand, roll, lick the seam, pinch the ends and light
the "quirly" with a kitchen match pulled across the seat of their pants. Some
could do it while sitting on a spooky horse in a high wind.
smoked "Old Hill Side" tobacco because it was cheaper and the sack held more product
than Bull Durham or Prince Albert. He changed to Lucky Strikes after shaking out
a glob of bird manure from a new sack one day. My brother and I fought over the
privilege of making cigarettes with a new machine ordered from a catalog.
It was red metal, with a red canvas, about 6 inches long by 3 inches wide.
At starting position you placed a cigarette paper into a deep crease in the canvas
belt. Next, you poured in the correct amount of tobacco and pulled the lever to
the second position, neatly rolling a perfect cigarette. After careful removal,
you gently licked the seam, pushed the ends together to hold the loose tobacco
inside then placed the finished cigarette into a cigarette carrying case. All
this was done on the kitchen table under the glow of a kerosene lamp.
young boys started their cigarette experiences smoking wild grape vine or pulverized
cedar post bark rolled up in pilfered cigarette papers.
If I remember
right, such ingredients caused one to cough for several days afterward. The big
danger here was fire as the experiments usually took place out behind the barn
or around the hay stacks.
Once "ready-made" cigarettes became the norm,
used butts could be found with a few puffs left, especially if you spiked it on
Ivey Alexander of Lefors once said, "Me and my friends
smoked so many cigarette butts our breaths smelled like everybody's."
know why I never smoked, as tobacco products were lying on the table, on every
truck dashboard, in each glove box and carried in most coat pockets. I watched
all my heroes and mentors light up a million times during my early years. I believe
World War II was the height of smoking in our family, as every veteran returned
with the habit.
Later, as I entered into professional music playing
for dance bands, every engagement seemed to be clouded with blue smoke hanging
over the bandstand. So between my family at home, buddies and employees, and my
fellow musicians on the bandstand, I have been exposed to many hundreds of hours
of secondhand smoke in my lifetime. Sure hope it all turns out well in the end.
© Delbert Trew
All Trew" March
10 , 2004 column