I remember pipes and pipe racks and ashtrays around the house throughout my childhood. I can still see the vacuum-sealed tobacco canister on the floor by the loveseat and remember my fascination with the uniquely designed mechanism to pop the lid open. There was the rubber change-purse-meets-woopie-cushion styled tobacco pouch on the end table. But more than anything else, I remember the smell of L.L. Bean cherry pipe tobacco. It was the smell of my dad and his clothes. It was the smell of the family room. It was the smell of home.
From sometime around 1964 or ’65, I found this amazing photo of my dad taken at Smokers’ Haven, a specialty tobacconist in Columbus, Ohio. My dad picked up the pipe smoking habit while attending Ohio State University, and continued to smoke until the mid-’90s. He would stop in at Smokers' Haven after he’d left Columbus and moved back to Northeast Ohio – sometimes even making special trips down just to visit the shop.
Smoking sucks. I know that. (And I don’t believe my dad’s pipe smoking had any influence on my eight-year, pack-a-day cigarette smoking habit back in the day.) I remember my sister doing a project for school, maybe in middle school, where she tried to get my dad to quit smoking. She didn’t succeed, and I don’t know why my dad ultimately kicked the habit. I do know that when he did quit he sold his pipe collection and used the money to buy my mom a tennis bracelet. It was years, however, before my mom found out that was where he got the money to buy it for her.