Friday, April 22, 2011

I submit for your examination

This corncob pipe is on display at the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas. According to the museum's display notes, this pipe actually belonged to Douglas MacArthur.

As you were.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Pipe lore: Israel Putnam and the powder keg duel

Israel Putnam was an American army general during the U.S. Revolution, and previously served at a lower rank during the French and Indian Wars.
During the French and Indian War Putnam was challenged to a duel by a British major whom he had insulted. Realizing that he would stand little chance in a duel with pistols, Putnam invited the major to his tent and suggested an alternative trial of honor. The two men were sitting on small powder kegs, into each of which Putnam had inserted a slow-burning fuse. The first to squirm or move from his seat would be the loser. As the fuses burned, the major showed increasing signs of anxiety, while Putnam continued to smoke his pipe with a casual air. Seeing the spectators gradually disappear from the tent to escape the impending explosion, the major finally leaped from his keg, acknowledging Putnam as the victor. Only then did Putnam reveal that the kegs contained onions, not gunpowder.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cigar lore: Count Gottlieb von Haeseler in good company

This isn't actually a pipe story, but cigar. Still, I liked it and I'll include it. Von Haeseler was a German general who lived from 1836-1919.
Count Haeseler was sitting in a railway waiting room, enjoying a cigar. The room's other occupant, a young lieutenant, was not quite so comfortable. "You shouldn't be smoking that cabbage-leaf of yours in good company," he said, offering Haeseler one of his own cigars. The count accepted it, slipped it into his pocket, and continued to smoke his own. "Sir, why are you not smoking my cigar?" demanded the lieutenant angrily. "I think I'll wait, as you suggest, until I'm in good company," Haeseler replied.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pipe lore: Leonhard Euler's last words

Leonhard Euler was a Swiss mathematician who lived from 1707-83.
After having amused himself one afternoon calculating the laws of ascent of balloons--on his slate, as usual--Euler dined with Lexell (a mathematical colleague) and his family. "Herschel's Planet" (Uranus) was a recent discovery. Euler outlined the calculation of its orbit. A little later he asked that his grandson be brought in. While playing with the child and drinking tea he suffered a stroke. The pipe dropped from his hand, and with the words, "I die," Euler ceased to live and calculate.