Let's face it! Smokers these days are stigmatized. There is truth, of course, in the warnings about lung cancer for long-time smokers. But, some of the new laws in cities and towns that seem to make it impossible to light up anyway except in your closet are far too restrictive. But, my purpose is not to rail about medical reports of legislation. Rather, to continue to dream about the pleasures of pipe smoking.
I'm nearly Eighty (age, not I.Q.). And, I've been smoking a pipe since I was seventeen, including while serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean conflict. My first pipe, incidentally, was given to me by our family doctor, who smoked a pipe. Along with a tin of Briggs tobacco. He told me that if I was going to smoke, a pipe would be the most pleasant. All these years later, he was right.
Of course, there's more to smoking a pipe than just puffing away. There is getting the right pipe at a price you can afford and keeping it well maintained. But, more important, is finding the right tobacco. Unlike cigarettes, store-bought pre-packaged tobacco just will not do. I am lucky to have found a place that is not merely tempting with selections, but reasonable in price (aside from usurious taxes) and owned and operated by the nicest couple this side of the Garden of Eden - Kramer's in Beverly Hills, run with thoughtfulness and kindness by Marsha Kramer and her cigar-smoking husband, Jim Keller. Believe it or not, they'll create a tobacco just for you. They've served some of the luminaries of show business (Well, Beverly Hills IS just down the freeway from Hollywood!). Cecil B. DeMille and Danny Kaye were customers. And there are still famous names who prefer to be anonymous (unless accompanied by their press agents) who stop in regularly for their tobacco needs.
Best of all, of course, is that they have a website, which means you never have to leave the comfort of your living room (or wherever your wife will let you smoke) to order. As for me, I dote on their blend called Father Dempsey named after, of course, a pipe-smoking priest who would come in with the original "Kramer" and while away some time, before returning for vespers.
Despite the hue and cry, there are still some pleasant moments for puffing on a pipe, or selecting the right blend. I'll keep on pipe dreaming for some years yet - as long as Kramer's keeps my pipe filled.