A Cigar Encounter of a Third Kind
Posted: Aug 28, 2008 1:03pm ET
Most of my interaction involving cigars goes in one of two possible directions: I encounter people who either love and want to have a smoke or people who hate them and want me to put mine out. Recently, I was treated to a third possibility.
I was at an impromptu cocktail party outside a cottage on Pennsylvania's Highland Lake just south of Binghamton, N.Y., enjoying the summer evening, a Sam Houston Bourbon Manhattan and an Alec Bradley Tempus Genesis, when someone approached me. The gentleman’s name was Alan Jewell, and he remarked that he liked the smell of the corona I was smoking. I assumed that this was the category of the above-mentioned cigar encounters and immediately offered him a smoke.
Alan begged off, citing sinus problems, but implored me to keep smoking as the aroma brought back memories, smell being the sense most closely associated with remembering. He then spun a story about Binghamton back in the day when the small city on New York’s Southern Tier was dominated by the Endicott Johnson Shoe Co. The company was the benevolent employer of many of the people in the Triple Cities area, which includes Endicott and Johnson City, both named in honor of the founders, and created housing and educational and recreational facilities for its workers.
Alan particularly recalled going to the baseball games of the Binghamton Triplets, a Yankee farm team. The shoe company would arrange for a block of seat for its employees, and he said that most of them took the occasion to light up White Owls courtesy of General Cigar, which had a factory there from 1928 to 1938 (later an Ansco camera facility). “All those shoemakers from all over Eastern Europe and Italy—they talk about diversity now, we had real diversity then—would gather in the seats and light up and this wonderful aroma would waft out over the stadium…"
Alan waxed on with other fascinating tales about Binghamton of old, and I was happy to have supplied the impetus of those pleasant memories via my smoke and to have had a cigar encounter of a third kind. Thanks, Alan.
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