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Out of the Humidor

The Editors
From the Print Edition:
Orlando Hernandez, Mar/Apr 99

(continued from page 11)

As I sat down to read the December issue I noticed something about the "Out of the Humidor" section. A lot of the letters sounded like complaints. What about all the good times and memories? Well, I had a day which I feel worthy of this topic.

My girlfriend, Kimberly, and I wanted to go to Vermont to see the fall foliage and enjoy a day away from home. So on a Saturday morning we hopped in a car and headed north. We arrived in Vermont and drove to the top of Hogback Moun-tain. Words cannot explain the magnificent view. The only thing that could have made it better was to have had a cigar. I, however, left home without one. This would be a lesson learned.

After doing a little shopping at the mountaintop store, we headed down the mountain to see what we could find.

Now in Massachusetts, on the Mohawk Trail, we found a little country store with not only hot apple cider on tap but with the aroma of baking apple pies filling the air. And of course, nearby was another magnificent view.

As the day turned to evening, we headed home to Connec-ticut and stopped at my place to get one of my previously forgotten cigars, and then turned off to Old New Haven, a restaurant that we visit often to enjoy some good food. I followed my dinner with an Astral given to me by my father. Kimberly enjoyed the Black Forest cake. I was nearing the end of my cigar and our day together was coming to a close. Back at my place, I found the December issue of Cigar Aficionado in my mailbox and I spent the rest of my evening reading it cover to cover.

It was the perfect day and a wonderful evening, the kind of day that memories are made of. I can only hope for a few more days like that one.

Jarrett J. Rousseau
New Haven, Connecticut

* * *

Dear Marvin,

I thought you might like to know, in fact be happy to hear, that former president Jimmy Carter now owns a copy of the December issue of Cigar Aficionado.

I was waiting for a flight from Atlanta to Miami when I saw Carter roaming the concourse near my gate. To my surprise, he boarded the plane I was to get on and sat in the first row of first class while a Secret Service agent stood guard. I noticed that he was thumbing through those really boring magazines that airlines want you to take with you.

I proceeded to my seat knowing that I still had half of the December issue of CA to read on my flight home. (What a comforting thought.) About 10 minutes before pushing back from the gate, Carter walks down the center aisle of the plane with one of his three agents, saying hello and shaking many hands. I thought this gesture was sincere and very gracious. As he approached my row (I was in the aisle seat), I extended my hand, and he shook it firmly and gave me a warm greeting. He proceeded to the back of the jet, meeting nearly everyone on the plane.

Upon his return up the aisle it dawned on me that since John F. Kennedy was on the cover of the current CA, I was sure Carter would enjoy reading at least that one excellent article. I turned around to make eye contact with him, holding the magazine up to him so he could see the cover. I told him the JFK article would be something he would take pleasure in reading and, of course, I told him that there would be no need to return the magazine to me. He thanked me very much, took the magazine and proceeded back to his seat.

Upon leaving the plane on our arrival in Miami, he was quickly taken down the stairs of the gateway to a waiting car. I want you to know that he did not leave the CA behind on the plane, as I looked on his seat and in the pocket attached to the bulkhead of the plane.

I have a good feeling that he enjoyed reading more than just the JFK article. Don't be surprised if you get a new subscriber to the magazine named Jimmy Carter in the near future.

Larry Grusky
Miami, Florida

* * *

Dear Marvin,

Thank you for Mr. Arthur Schlesinger's recent article about President John F. Kennedy. Living in Massa-chusetts, I have always been a fan of JFK and made a point to visit the JFK Library every fall. I applaud Mr. Schlesinger for putting to rest those ridiculous rumors about Joe Kennedy Sr.'s bootlegging and "buying" votes from the Chicago Mafia, and explaining that JFK inherited the Bay of Pigs plan and the Castro assassination plots from the Eisenhower administration.

I do, however, want to take issue with remarks he made about JFK's sex life, and in particular, morality: "The argument is made that recklessness in private life leads to recklessness in public affairs. But history shows no connection between private morality and public conduct."

It is this kind of thinking that has led to the moral crisis our nation now finds itself in. Our president has had sex in the White House with a girl barely out of her teens, has lied about it under oath, and the American peopledon't really seem to care. Although I agree with Mr. Schlesinger's statement about revisionist history regarding JFK, let's also apply that argument to the founding fathers of this great nation, and see what they said about private morality in public life. (I'll bet that most people growing up never read statements like these in their history class.)

"He who is void of virtuous attachments in private life is, or very soon will be, void of all regard of his country. There is seldom an instance of a man guilty betraying his country who had not before lost the feeling of moral obligations in his private connections. The public cannot be too curious concerning the characters of public men." --Samuel Adams

"If we trifle with the injunctions of morality, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us. No government can be secure which is not supported by moral habits." --Daniel Webster

"In selecting men for office, look to his character. If the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made not for the public good so much as for selfish or local purposes; corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizens will be violated or disregarded. When a citizen gives his vote to a man of known immorality, he betrays the interest of his country." --Noah Webster

"As governments are made and moved by men, so by them they are ruined too. Let men be good and the government cannot be bad. But if men be bad, the government be never good." --William Penn

Mr. Schlesinger is a brilliant man, but I would be apt to take the advice of the founders of this great nation over his opinion of morality. The founders sacrificed everything to start this form of government. And as a historian, Mr. Schlesinger is well aware that the majority of Americans favored remaining a British colony and not fighting for independence. And the majority of Americans favored leaving the Southern slave states alone. Thank God this country had men of principle such as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, who exhibited in their private and public lives the "moral habits" that Samuel Adams, William Penn, and Noah and Daniel Webster referred to.

Alan Ringuette
Concord, Massachusetts

Arthur Schlesinger Jr. responds: I thank Mr. Ringuette for his kind words, and I agree with him in cherishing private as well as public morality. But history does not show that one guarantees the other. As I noted in my article, Martin Luther King Jr. was sexually wayward, yet he was an indisputably noble moral leader, while Pol Pot, by many accounts a dedicated family man, murdered hundreds of thousands of his countrymen. I don't think the adultery test tells us much about the qualities required for enlightened public leadership.

* * *

Dear Marvin,

As a subscriber and a presidential history buff, I very much enjoyed Arthur Schlesinger's essay on President Kennedy. Obviously, his previous proximity to JFK affords us all a glimpse of what he was or was not like. However, I thought there were a couple of other components of the Kennedy mystique that were not covered but may bear interest for your readers.

Kennedy in many ways reshaped the presidency into its current form. Many of these elements are not important ideologically or even of historical significance, but nonetheless provide another facet to Mr. Schlesinger's argument of Kennedy's impact.

JFK introduced America to the live news conference. Previous presidents relied upon a formal question-and-answer format--usually with the questions submitted in advance. Kennedy used the power of television to advance his agenda and programs while circumventing the press. As a result, his now famous wit and humor in those sessions helped build the power of the activist presidency. [The news conferences] also served to embellish the power of the president, who possessed a firm grasp of a myriad of topics. It should also be noted that such an approach was not without substantial risk. It could have easily backfired on a less confident incumbent.

I believe it could be equally argued that Kennedy was the first peacetime president to be a world figure. From his Inaugural Address forward it was clear he took his role as leader of the free world as an active part of his duties. Many of his speeches were invariably of a global nature and futuristic--and almost always grounded in historical connections. The latter point served to provide a link to mankind overall, without geographical limitations. JFK invigorated masses within many foreign lands--Ireland, West Germany, France and others--to levels unparalleled in the past. His traumatic demise only further intensified these emotions, adding to his legacy.

Finally, the "Kennedy style" has left a significant mark on the presidency. The now famous Resolute desk that JFK retrieved from previous obscurity has subsequently been the desk of choice by his successors (of both parties), including Carter, Reagan and Clinton. In addition, Air Force One continues to be painted in the same striking colors that JFK approved on his watch some 35 years ago. The argument over myth or legend will continue, but it is safe to say that this cigar-smoking president made his mark on the highest office in the land.


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