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Jack Bettridge

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.

Comments   3 comment(s)

Justin Jernigan — Madison, Ms. —  September 2, 2008 3:48pm ET

Great Story. He is right, there are certain memories that can be recalled off of certain smells. My grandfather smoked a pipe, and that smell always triggers flashbacks.


Marc Ille — Danville, California —  September 21, 2008 11:28pm ET

Jack,While attending last year's "Big Smoke Las Vegas" I had the following experiences:When sitting down at a table the night before the start of the event, I had in hand an unlit Oliva Serie V Torpedo. The gentleman at the opposite side of the table immidiately began waving his hand in front of his face yelling that the cigar was annoying him. It was not even lit.I politely expressed to the gentleman that this was the wrong weekend to be in Vegas if you do not like cigars. I gathered my chips and headed over to Case Fuente where no one will give you a hard time over smoking a good premium cigar. While sitting on the patio enjoying my Oliva and a premium adult beverage, several people walking by would stop and ask what it was that I was smoking. "That smells great!" or "That smells really really good!" they would exclaim. Jack, I work for the world's number one premium spirits company. You get what you pay for. People can sample a low price spirit and taste the difference along side a premium. You know that as well as I. It is your business. The cigar industry is no different. People associate "Stink" with smoke, mostly as a result of cigarettes and cheap cigars. Thoses who experience a premium cigar either first, second or third hand will tell you otherwise.Keep up the good work Jack, I appreciated your presentation at the Big Smoke LV. Can I get an autographed picture of your liver?


Dennis Wong — Honolulu, Hawaii, USA,  —  May 6, 2011 6:38pm ET

I have also had a Cigar Encounter of a Third Kind while sitting at a side walk table of a coffee shop enjoying a Gran Habano Robusto. An elderly lady approached her car which was parked in front of my table, and said to me, "I like the smell of your cigar...it reminds me of my father smoking!". She then graciously smiled and drove off. First time anyone really "cared" about me smoking!



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