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In two and a half years of smoking cigars I've come across many different situations, but none quite as good as this. I was recently enjoying my Montecruz on a very fine Saturday afternoon, one of those days with no heavy wind, which in turn means a great burn.
I refer to that great old saying: I saw her across a crowded room, or in this case, a field. I happened to be walking across an open field in search of shade when, all of a sudden, from behind me came a beautiful Mexican woman with long, beautiful black hair, a great smile--absolutely gorgeous. Before I had the chance to speak she said, "Your cigar smells great. Is that a Romeo y Julieta?" With shock on my face I replied, "No, It's a Montecruz." We both laughed.
As we walked, our conversation soon drifted to how she recalled her grandfather smoking Cuban cigars every time he visited this country. She also remembered her parents telling her stories about when Castro took control of Cuba, and the great sadness her parents endured. The land they loved, lost, and the once wealthy being left with nothing. About her grandparents having to come to America and stay with relatives and start a new life.
By the end of the story, two hours had passed, and it was time to eat. The food was great, and the spirits were better. Finally, she had got up enough courage to ask me if I had another cigar. Naturally I did. Nothing could be more beautiful than watching a beautiful woman puffing on a Partagas 150. Her cigar manner was outstanding. After the picnic was over we went to her place to enjoy some real Colombian coffee. With another cigar from--get this--her humidor. She even owned a copy of Cigar Aficionado. What a woman! I think I'm in love. Thank God for cigars. Wish me luck!

Aaron C. Shinault
Salinas, California


Dear Marvin,
I'm not a rich man. Sometimes I'm lucky if I have two quarters to rub together. Smoking a good cigar is a luxury for me. I love imported cigars, and I have found a wonderful variety in my price range, not more than $2.50 or $3. I keep them in a plastic container with a piece of cedar and a small humidifier that I bought at a tobacco shop. I reward myself with one cigar a day, usually at day's end. I find that it relieves the stress that has been building up. I'm a professional truck driver, and having to put up with weather, roads, deadlines, and bad road manners can cause the stress.
Friday, May 9, 1997, will be a day I will remember for the rest of my life. I had just finished my last pickup in El Paso, Texas, a load headed for Brigham City, Utah. It was a beautiful, sunny day. I had just crossed the Texas-New Mexico border on I-10 heading west. I saw a minivan on the eastbound side hit a guard rail at a high rate of speed. The van immediately went airborne, somersaulting end over end. The driver was thrown from the van. I pulled my truck off to the shoulder and ran across the interstate to help in any way I could. By the time I arrived at the scene of the accident, there were several people standing over the unconscious driver. The victim was a man who appeared to be in his late sixties or early seventies. He had severe head trauma, with blood flowing heavily from his ears, mouth and back of his head. To my horror I saw one of the bystanders nudge him with his foot as if he were a dead animal, saying, "This one's had it!" I dropped to my knees and felt for a pulse. The man was not breathing, but I did feel a faint pulse in his wrist. Just then another man checked on the inside of the victim's upper thigh. He also found a pulse.
A nurse on the way home from her hospital shift arrived on the scene. She asked if anyone knew CPR. I told her I did. At first she was a little hesitant to administer mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. There was so much blood she didn't know if she could do it. I encouraged her by saying we could do it! She agreed. She asked the others around to find her a plastic bag, then she tore a hole in it and placed the bag with the hole over the victim's mouth. I began the chest compressions, one, two, three, four five, and she would breathe in. Nothing happened. His chest did not rise. We had to turn his head to clear the airway, so I carefully cupped the man's head in my hands to feel if the bones of his lower head and upper neck were broken. His neck was broken. We had to turn his whole body. I carefully placed my arm under his frail body and on the count of three, while she held his head straight, I turned his torso. The blood quickly ran out of his mouth. We rolled him on his back and started again. This time we saw his chest rise slightly when she blew in.
It seemed like everything was going in slow motion, but it was actually only a few seconds. We applied CPR for about 20 minutes, stopping from time to time to clear the blood from his mouth and throat. The fire department and paramedics finally arrived. They didn't think he was alive, but the paramedic also found the pulse. Within minutes they had his heart stabilized enough to stop manual chest compression. He still could not breathe on his own. I will be surprised if the man survives! The trauma to his head was very severe. All I know is that the 30 minutes that the nurse and I had with him we were able to keep his heart and lungs going. He was airlifted to a hospital in El Paso. I never knew his name, or even if he made it. As a matter of fact, I didn't even get the nurse's name. Thank God she was there still in uniform, looking like an angel. We just high-fived each other when the helicopter took off. She went her way and I went mine.
I climbed back into the truck feeling every emotion from excitement to sorrow. That evening, 300 miles down the road, I stopped and pulled into a scenic overlook on a mountain pass. I took out my plastic humidor, found my last Fuente that I was saving. I lit it, climbed down out of the cab of the truck, and sat down on a large rock overlooking the valley below. Looking up at the stars I said a prayer. It was a good and a bad day. I smoked my cigar for him! I saved the paper ring off of the cigar, and I'll keep it forever!

Douglas A. Narigon
Hurricane, Utah


Dear Marvin,
Once in a blue moon I smoked cigars and really didn't care about the brand or type of flavor. I just smoked them for the sheer fun of it. All I know is that tobacco has been a big part of my life and my native culture, since we offer them to the spirits with our prayers and ceremonies.
Late last summer while on the set filming the movie, Copland, I had a sudden urge to smoke a cigar. Brad Anderson, who does Sly Stallone's wardrobe styling, was around and I approached him and said, "Brad, I feel like a cigar. I'd like to buy one from you." I didn't know the proper etiquette of asking somebody for a cigar. Anyway, he said no, just let me know when you're ready.
Soon, he asked me if I was ready. Yeah, I said. He drew out his leather-fingered case and started explaining the cigar we were about to indulge in and the ritual that goes with it. This is why I like cigars; the meaning behind every detailed act shows reverence for one's self and to the people who took care of the tobacco seeds to the finished creations of art. It is a thanksgiving.
I believe it was the lunar eclipse that gave birth to the genesis of a passion within me. Like a seed, my interest in cigars grew and now I am enjoying the potpourri of flavors that are offered. I knew that it was just a matter of time before I would claim that I am indeed a cigar aficionado.

Renzo Spirit
Buffalo, New York


Dear Marvin,
While I was on patrol one Saturday morning, experimenting with an Hoyo De Monterrey that I received for Christmas from my brother, a notification came over the radio that a bank was robbed northeast of my location. The dispatcher, via a motor vehicle inquiry, found a pretty good match to the vehicle used in the crime registered to an address southwest of my location. I parked my patrol car in the middle of a fairly large roadway, which I figured the bank robber might use to get home, smoking my cigar and watching traffic. Sure enough, about 40 minutes later, I spotted the car that fit the description perfectly. I was in the middle of a nice draw when I saw him; we made eye contact and I was certain that was the guy. I threw the cigar down and made a U-turn to go after him. He pulled right over--I did not even have my overhead lights on yet--and he was caught. We recovered $11,000 in cash, and at least one other bank robbery was solved after the robber admitted his wrongdoings to the detectives.
Needless to say, the cigar unfortunately went out in the car. I called my brother from the precinct and thanked him for the lucky cigar. The next time I smoke an Hoyo De Monterrey on patrol in my police cruiser, I will be alert and ready for the next bank robbery notification.

Robert S. Coffman
Suffolk County, New York

Editor's note: Congratulations on the collar! We are sending you a box of "lucky" Hoyos with our compliments.


Dear Marvin,
I wanted to tell you about a night I will not soon forget. After moving to Fort Collins, Colorado, I found a place where I could do the two things I love to do: talk to new people and enjoy a good cigar, with the best Martinis in Fort Collins at Erott's, a retro-type 1920s-style bar that makes you feel at home. As I was relaxing with a great Ashton Panetela and a twin Gibson Martini, two gentlemen sat down next to me. As I looked over I noticed something very familiar about one of them. It was Tom Jones.
I am 27 years old, and while I was growing up, Mother would melt to hear the music of many of the greats like Elvis and Tom Jones. So for me it was a treat to sit next to someone whom I listened to when I was a kid. My first reaction was to ask for his autograph, knowing how much my mother would love it. She went blind about 10 years ago, but she can still describe people and places with better detail than I. Instead, I amazed myself by letting him just sit and enjoy his cigar. A few minutes later he started talking to me. We talked for a couple of hours like old friends. It's great how a good cigar and a good Martini can bring two different generations together.

Jon Graham
Fort Collins, Colorado


Dear Marvin,
I enjoyed your story on James Woods, and I have to tell you that I became a cigar smoker partly because of him.
It was the summer of 1982, in Rome. I was an extra in Sergio Leone's epic, Once Upon a Time in America. Robert DeNiro and James Woods were the main stars. During the last week of June, I rode out to the movie set on the outskirts of Rome each day, ready for a day of shooting. But despite my initial expectations, being an extra in a movie wasn't too glamorous. Squeezed into a tuxedo that felt like a suit of cardboard, I was boiling hot. For much of my 12-hour day I stood around waiting, until interminable preparations were done and cameras were ready to roll.
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