Out of the Humidor

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All of a sudden, the sales clerk whom I was conversing with gruffly cried out, "You know, young man, you sure ask a lot more questions than the average customer!" Apparently, this suspicious man was charging me with some sort of industrial espionage, as if I was a fellow cigar retailer trying to unearth the secrets of my local market competitors. I couldn't believe my ears! Instead of taking my questions as a compliment (as all other retailers have taken them in the past), he grew offended at my harmless curiosity.  
I was so appalled, I had the urge to replace all the cigars I had picked up and abruptly leave the store. But the funny thing is, as rude as this roguish sales clerk was to me, I still bought the cigars anyway. I guess it just shows that my desire for a good smoke is greater than my desire to bullishly assert my pride. In retrospect, however, I think I'll visit the downtown store from now on.
Partho Roy
Baltimore, Maryland
Dear Marvin,  
I am writing in response to Abbe Myers's letter in the April issue. She sounds very knowledgeable about cigars and I certainly respect her for that. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for her at times to be prejudged because of her gender. I also support her right to smoke cigars. Having done away with the PC niceties, I now want to say: "Who gives a rat's behind?" I have smoked cigars for more than 30 years and during that time women have almost universally maligned and complained about my habit, including my wife. I have had women unabashedly walk up to me outdoors and launch into tirades about the "foul-smelling weed." I live with it.  
Cigars, for me, are a man's pursuit. I grew up around men who worked with a cigar clamped between their teeth. When I want to relax I seek out the company of fellow male cigar smokers so I can, for a little while, drop the veneer for politically correct civilization that I am forced to wear every day. I subscribe to Cigar Aficionado partly because of its decidedly male bias. I don't care if women smoke cigars or if they don't smoke cigars. It has nothing to do with me until someone like Ms. Myers starts whining about the need to change a great publication. I say accept the situation as it is or start your own magazine.  
I gave up years ago trying to win anyone over to my love of cigars. I do not seek anyone's acceptance or approval and I will not apologize for my habit. I seek outa few friends that share my interest and I would suggest that Ms. Myers do the same. So what if folks don't take her seriously; is the smoke from one of her Montecristo No. 2s any less sweet? I believe that when one is confronted on their cigar smoking in any capacity, that the appropriate response is to quote Popeye's motto, "I am what I am," spit in their eye, and light up.  
Steven F. Goselin
Burlington, Massachusetts
Dear Marvin,  
I have been and continue to be a satisfied reader of your magazine. Each issue is read cover-to-cover at least twice. Although I cannot foresee me being in the position to purchase a custom-made suit, a pair of custom-made shoes or a private jet, I enjoy reading about them.  
I perused the June 1999 issue on Cuba with great interest and I thoroughly enjoyed the "100 Greatest Cigar Smokers of the Century" in the December 1999 issue. Correct me if I am wrong, but the individuals cited were people who are recognized with cigars, qualifications for demonization notwithstanding. When you finally come up with the definitive list, you can be sure that someone won't like it.  
As you can tell by my address, I am able to claim and cherish a freedom that you Americans can't: I can legally buy and smoke Cuban cigars. As a matter of fact, I am smoking one as I write. I regularly smoke the Jose L. Piedra brand that you mentioned in the "Cigar Insider" portion of the February 2000 issue. I found them before they adopted the brown-and-white band. The quality has not changed, but their availability has. I generally smoke the Cazadores size. It's about 6 inches long with a ring gauge of about 40. It generally takes an hour to smoke one. The cost is about $4.60 each. An equivalent-size Cuban Montecristo is over $25! With that kind of a difference in cost, the cute pigtail and the trademark band are not worth the price.  
Marvin, you have an excellent magazine that provides useful information on its primary subject. You, in your business, must try to publish articles that may be of interest to the majority of your readers. You will always have detractors. They go with the territory. I am sure that your critics would be more upset if you were to be forbidden from publishing Cigar Aficionado than they are with a few controversial features. I am looking forward to the next issue. Keep up the good work.  
Brian Goodwin
Elmira, Ontario
Dear Marvin,  
Regarding the April 2000 issue, I must say I am sad to see nothing mentioned about Jay Gould. I feel his success has earned him the status of the many others mentioned in the "Tycoons Who Shaped America."  
Jay Gould achieved his success at a young age, just like J. P. Morgan did. Gould was a self-made millionaire before the age of 26, having made most of his vast fortune from the railroad industry via Wall Street. Jay Gould and Cornelius Vanderbilt would find themselves in competition with each other on many occasions, but Gould eventually surpassed Vanderbilt in wealth and ownership. Gould also had large stakes in the telegraph industry, with success in other business ventures as well.
Gould had a large estate off the Hudson called Lyndhurst and a luxurious mansion and stables on Park Avenue, too. He also had a fabulous yacht like Morgan's, that he often used to travel abroad with his family. Even though Jay Gould almost lost his entire fortune, he managed to pull it all back together to become even richer than before. I often wonder if there are any descendants who today enjoy the riches of Jay's accomplishments many years ago.  
Perhaps Jay Gould was overlooked?  
Casey O. Sargent
Cedar Rapids, Iowa  
Editor's reply: Jay Gould was excluded because we focused on twentieth-century tycoons; he made his fortune in the nineteenth century. Cornelius Vanderbilt did as well, but he was included because the family dynasty he created continued to have great influence throughout the twentieth century.

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