Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Old Acutrements Follow


I go over to the neighborhood Starbucks a couple times a day for a coffee and a cigarette. The local law won't let you smoke inside, but most days and evenings the weather is just fine for sitting outside on the covered patio.

I remember as a little kid growing up in a house that usually had a few people smoking every morning and night, and riding in a closed up automobile in the winter, everyone but me puffing away. The tobacco companies advertized on radio with catchy jingles, and had some of the best commercials on television. Camel boasted about their cigarettes being distributed free to our fighting men overseas. But on the homefront office buildings and schools were heated with coal, even some homes, factories and trains ran on the stuff, and buses and trucks belched diesel fumes. Nobody worried about it. The perpetual haze over the cities was a symbol of employment after The Great Depression, a rallying sign to the millions of factory workers putting in the hours to help Win The War. Scrubbing the air was low on the list of priorities. With all that what's a little tobacco smoke? Of course the plaster inside of buildings contained asbestos fibers, another carcinogen, as a fire retardant. So who's to say that all the 60 to 80 year olds with lung desease got it from cigarettes? What about two good friends of mine, both non smokers, who died of heart attacks in the last few years, a protestant minister of 54 and a political consultant aged 51?

Some men preferred cigars while others accumulated collections of pipes, the tobacconist always coming up with exotic new blends to try.

Back before insect repellants contained DEET they were largely ineffective. How many mosquito borne illnesses were prevented by a smoldering cigarette dangling from a fisherman's lips? I still enjoy smoking a few a day but I'm hardly a chain smoker. I make life difficult for myself by rolling my own which does cut down on the amount that I smoke. And I love the way a whisp of back lit smoke looks in a photograph, especially a black and white photograph.

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