Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Vintage Ad (1944): Kaywoodie Pipes--Raking Leaves

Another Kaywoodie ad from World War II, with art by Rudolf Wetterau that has an autumnal theme. Sentimental thoughts of home in the war year of 1944, depicting the ancient tradition of leaf-burning.

"Many Kaywoodies go direct to our fighting men -- please be patient if your dealer temporarily can't supply you." Orders from soldiers were given priority over those from civilians, and of course, "war bonds come first." Don't buy a pipe if you know you have greater priorities.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Featured Pipe Smoker: Albert King

Albert King (1923-1992)

Born into a poor farming family in Indianola, Mississippi, he was one of 13 children, and his real name was Albert Nelson. Perhaps his first musical influence was his own father, who also played guitar. King also sang in a family gospel group as a child, and briefly played drums before settling on the guitar.

Albert King came to also be known as "The Velvet Bulldozer" because of his size (6'4" and 280 pounds). He began guitar on a homemade instrument that he made himself and played the guitar "upside down and backwards" because he was left-handed. Although he later played on a custom-made left-handed instrument, he still strung it in reverse because that's how he was used to playing it. He also developed his own way of tuning the strings, keeping the higher strings "slacked," or not tuned as tightly so the notes they played were somewhat lower. His large, strong hands also allowed him to play dramatic, sweeping bent notes.

In this photo, Albert King demonstrates the advantage of being a pipe-smoking guitarist over being, say, a pipe-smoking saxophonist like Archie Shepp (who will be featured here sometime in the future).

Albert King is one of those musicians whose influence continues to be felt down through the generations, not only in blues, but in R&B and rock as well. Some later guitarists who counted Albert King as one of their biggest influences are Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, and Stevie Ray Vaughan (the last of which will also be featured here sometime in the future).

Albert King died of a heart attack in Memphis, Tennessee in 1992.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Vintage Ad (1946): L.H.S. Sterncrest

That Bau-Bau is a serious pipe. Kind of makes that Sterncrest look wimpy in comparison.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Featured Pipe Smoker: Andie MacDowell

Rosalie Anderson "Andie" MacDowell (b. 1958)

Andie MacDowell (imdb link) was born in South Carolina. During her teen years, her mother died, and she worked low-paying restaurant jobs to help support her family.

She attended Winthrop College (now Winthrop University) in South Carolina but dropped out in 1978 to pursue a career in modeling, and became successful as a model for L'Oreal. In 1984 she made her film debut in Greystoke - The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (although Wikipedia says her voice was re-recorded by Glenn Close).

The film that pretty much established her as an actress was Sex, Lies, and Videotape in 1989. As of this writing, lists her as an actress in 39 films.

She currently resides in Asheville, North Carolina. She is one of the very few famous female pipe smokers who I know of.

It's sometimes difficult to tell if some celebrities actually smoked a pipe off-screen or if the photo I have found is just some movie still or publicity photo "stunt pipe." One indication is to look closely at the pipe. In this picture, it is obvious that there is smoke coming from the pipe. The bowl is still full enough that a tiny bit of what appears to be tobacco leaves--or at least, something--is in the bowl. The end of the stem is in her mouth. She's smoking the pipe.

There are some reports on the internet that at some point she became "a closet cigarette smoker." She enjoyed smoking, but was embarrassed to be "outed." She was born and raised in tobacco country. All these things lead me to believe that yes, she is really smoking the pipe.

I can't ID the pipe, but it is interesting in that it has an unusual square shank and stem.

By the way, for an example of an actor who obviously wasn't a pipe smoker, try to catch the episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show called "The Meerschatz Pipe." First of all, the word is "meerschaum," not "meerschatz." And throughout the entire episode, Maury Amsterdam carried that pipe around like it was a dirty diaper or something. He had obviously never touched one before in his life. It was a wonder he didn't break the thing, the way he was slinging it around by its stem.

Also by the way, "meerschaum" means "sea foam." So I think you can guess what "meerschatz" would mean. (No, it doesn't really mean what it sort of sounds like. It means "sea treasure").

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Smoking the dregs

Yesterday I packed the last of the 1792 Flake into a pipe. There was nothing left. I think this is the first time any tobacco has "come out even" so to speak. I guess I was using just the right pipe.

Today I took out the last dregs of C&D Gray Ghost that I've had sealed up (with the Pump 'n' Seal) for a few months, dumped some Perique into it and mixed it up. This still remains one of my favorite smokes, and it was good to have it again. A few minutes ago I loaded up a pipe with what was left, then topped it off with some Haunted Bookshop that has also had extra Perique added to it.

Why go to this trouble? Ah, so hard to explain. Or perhaps not. I have a few more jars of C&D samples that I know I will smoke but will probably not enjoy so well. My next order will be several pounds in bulk, enough to last me for years. Probably.

But there are tins back in there that I fear to open. They tease me. They taunt me. Escudo, which I've had before and I know I will thoroughly enjoy; so thoroughly that I will probably not smoke anything else after I've opened the tin. And St. James Woods, which has been recommended to me so highly that I'm sure it will be another favorite.

Oh, but I still have several disks of Bullseye Flake that might hold me over for a few days, putting off the inevitable opening of another tin. I managed to stop myself before I had smoked all the Bullseye, but I know once I start again it will be all over.

Planning the next order is sometimes difficult, sometimes not. I've pretty much decided on what to order next time. One pound each of C&D's Bayou Night, Gray Ghost and Exclusive. Two tins of 1792 Flake. Several ounces of Bullseye. Some straight Perique.

My tastes continue to lean more and more toward Virginia and Perique blends, the exception being Gray Ghost which has maduro in it. Lately I've been carrying C&D's Stanhope in the truck.

Stanhope has an on-again-off-again relationship with me. The first time I tried it, I thought it was one of the best things I'd ever smoked. The second sample, a year or two later, didn't thrill me so much. This latest sample is somewhere in between. It seems to have almost a velvety texture this time, and the latakia is now quite noticeable. I've steered away from latakia since I developed such a love for Perique, and it seems I've developed a sensitivity to it. Where I once loved all I could get, I now think that most latakia blends have too much and would be improved with less.

And I do miss having Bayou Night. It still remains my favorite smoke, anytime of the day or night. But unfortunately, if I have it on hand I tend to reach for it over anything else, and it doesn't last long.

What's the point of this post? No point. Just some rambling thoughts on pipe tobacco.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Injun Summer

Date unknown, but from an old issue of the New York Daily News Sunday edition, according to Sad Old Goth.

Click to enlarge for a more readable version.

(Not an ad, but I'll put it in that category anyway to keep things simple).

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Vintage Ad (1947): Yello-Bole Pipes

The Yello-Bole, one of the more famous gimmick pipes, which may take some explanation for non-pipe smokers.

All pipe smokers (pretty much) are concerned about cake. Cake is the build-up that occurs inside a pipe bowl as it is smoked. A pipe with just the right amount of cake generally smokes better, cooler, and drier than a new, uncaked pipe. Some newbie pipe smokers get kind of worried when they don't see cake building up right away, and there are all kinds of tricks to speed cake build up. One of these tricks is to get a little drop of honey on your finger and swipe the inside of a new pipe with it to get the ash to stick better. This provides a sort of foundation for cake build up. This isn't because honey somehow has some kind of magical properties when it comes to pipes, it's simply because it's sticky, and being edible, there are no harmful fumes if it gets toasted a little. The same effect can be had by using a drop of saliva.

Almost every pipe company that has ever been has had what is called a "seconds" line. Seconds are pipes that, for one reason or the other, didn't quite measure up to the standard of the company to earn the company's actual brand name. It's just about impossible to know if any given burl of briar is going to be flawless; most aren't. Some are more flawed than others. But still, buying briar costs money, and labor had to go into the making of a pipe, so they don't want to just throw away a pipe because there might be a tiny sandpit or two in the briar. For example, Peterson pipes sell their seconds under the name "Irish Seconds." These are pipes that are still perfectly good smokers, they're just not quite perfect enough to warrant the name "Peterson." Everybody knows Irish Seconds are actually cast-off Petersons and that they are, in general, still very good pipes.

The brand known as Yello-Bole is actually Kaywoodie's seconds line. Since Kaywoodie already had several grades for their pipes, a pipe that didn't live up to the Kaywoodie name must have been pretty far down the ladder.

Kaywoodie went one better on their seconds, and not only did they call them by a different name, but they came up with a whole new gimmick to sell them. The inside of the bowl is coated with "honey."

I say "honey" in quotations because, of course, it isn't real honey. Honey may be one ingredient, but it's still a dry, yellow substance instead of a liquid, golden-brown substance. They claimed that it made them smoke cooler, better, so forth and so on, like all gimmicks are supposed to do when it comes to pipes. After a few bowls, the yellow stuff would be all gone, and you would still have to build up a normal cake anyway.

Finding a Yello-Bole these days that still has the original yellow cake intact is probably very uncommon. In my used-pipe buying days I found one that someone must have broken out of the package, tossed in his desk drawer, and never looked at again. It had several bids, and sold for probably 4 or 5 times what it originally cost back in the 1950s.

The one in the ad above even looks like a Kaywoodie, with a screw-in stem and the logo right where the Kaywoodie cloverleaf would be on the stem. The Yello-Bole logo was a golden circle.

My own attitude toward cake has always been somewhat relaxed. It just happens. Depending on a pipe smoker's frequency of using any given pipe, the tobacco used in it, and even the pipe itself, cake will happen sooner or later. It's always going to happen eventually, so don't get too worked up about it if it doesn't come along as soon as you think it should. Eventually, you will be breaking out your pipe tool and reaming a little cake out of it because it's getting too thick. So just enjoy your pipes and don't worry about the cake.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Poll on the left

In the left sidebar is a quick & dirty poll that I put together with Blogger's new(ish) "create your own poll" gadget. As you can see from the available choices it is somewhat tongue-in-cheek. If your choice is "other," please leave a comment trying to describe what it does taste like to you, and later on I'll put all the descriptions together in one post.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Featured Pipe Smoker: "Old" Tom Morris

Old Tom Morris (1821-1908)

Tom Morris, Sr., (pictured here in 1896) better known as Old Tom Morris, was born in St. Andrews, Scotland. He started his career in golf apprenticed to "featherie" ball maker Allan Robertson (Robertson is known as the world's first golf professional). When new ball technology made the featherie obsolete, Robertson opposed the new ball. Morris simply went his own way and began making his own balls. He was also a club maker, course designer, and champion golfer.

Morris won four Open Championships during the 1860's, and is the oldest person ever to win the Open Championship, at age 46. He was Keeper of the Greens at Prestwick from 1851 to 1864, and Custodian of the Links at St. Andrews for nearly 40 years, until he retired in 1902.

Some of the courses he designed are Prestwick, Royal Dornoch, Muirfield, Carnoustie, Royal County Down, Nairn and Cruden Bay. His fee was £1 per day plus expenses. He standardized the golf course at 18 holes, introduced the idea of placing hazards so the ball could be routed around them (previously they were just there and you had to deal with it), and introduced the course design concept of each nine holes returning to the clubhouse.

Old Tom passed away in 1908, a few months after sustaining a fractured skull from falling down the stairs at the clubhouse.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Vintage Ad (1932): Granger Tobacco

Yaaaaggghhh!!! Passive smoking!!! Passive smoking!!!

My kids love it when I blow smoke rings. Unfortunately, that's not something I can do very well when I'm thinking about it, although I have made some very impressive ones unconsciously. It's sort of a pipe-smoking Zen thing.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Featured Pipe Smoker: Günter Grass

Günter Wilhelm Grass (b. 1927)

Author, poet, playwright and sculptor Günter Grass, who seems almost never to be photographed without a pipe. Born in Danzig, Germany (now Gdańsk, Poland), and since 1945 has lived in West Germany. His works have a strong leftist leaning, and he is a supporter of the Social Democrat Party of Germany. His most well-known book is The Tin Drum (Die Blechtrommel) from 1959.

During the 1980s, he argued against reunification of East and West Germany, stating that a united Germany would once again assume its old role as a belligerent nation-state. Many of his essays deal with the idea that the people of Germany should still share a collective guilt from the activities of the Nazi regime of the 1930s and '40s.

Conversely, Grass volunteered for U-boat duty in 1942 at the age of 15. He was not accepted, but was conscripted into the Reichsarbeitdienst (Reich Labor Service). Later in 1944, he was called up for service in the Waffen-SS and trained as a tank gunner, serving with the 10th SS Panzer Division. He was wounded in battle in 1945, captured and sent to an American POW camp.

Some have castigated Grass for seeming the hypocrite, others say his latter-day confession of membership is a publicity stunt to sell books. Still others dismiss it as a youthful error. He was a teenage male in World War II Germany--he would have had to serve somewhere, it seems, or face execution.

Günter Grass is another of those rare pipe smokers who is widely reviled by other pipe smokers, not because of his questionable politics, but because of the way he keeps his pipes. Although I personally have no first-hand knowledge of this, it is said that he is one of those who does not clean his pipes, therefore the smell of his pipe is more of a foul stench than a pleasing aroma.

Look closely at the pipe in this photo. You will notice that although the pipe is the typical dark brown of a well-smoked briar, the rim of the bowl is black. You will also notice the discoloration on the bit where his lips clamp around the stem.

The black rim is caused by tar build-up from burning tobacco. This is what happens if you don't wipe clean the rim occasionally. The discoloration on the stem is what happens when saliva gets on vulcanite (rubber) and is exposed to air and sunlight. Both can be prevented by cleaning the pipe every now and then.

I will admit that a couple of my truck pipes look similar to this. However, I also keep pipe cleaners and cleaning fluid in my truck so that I can regularly clean the insides and keep them smelling sweet.

Look at the bit of this pipe. Come on, Günter, clean your pipes!

I am also not a very public figure who is frequently photographed with a pipe. If I were to be photographed with a pipe, you can bet it wouldn't look like this.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Vintage Ad (1931): Dill Tobacco

Throughout my pipe-smoking lifetime, I have never seen anything from Dill except for pipe cleaners. But at one time, they also marketed tobacco.