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Out of the Humidor

CA Readers
From the Print Edition:
James Woods, May/Jun 97

(continued from page 4)

At first, she frowned at my smoking and judged this as just a nasty habit. She even went as far as clipping out a newspaper article that simply did not paint a rosy picture about cigar lovers, and mailed it to my office. However, the more she noticed my love for a good cigar, the more she began to inquire about them. She had an interest in the variety of sizes, the unique shades, but most of all, she noticed the bands that would come off the cigar when I would light up, and wondered how I would dispose of them. This past Christmas morning, I finally found out why she was so curious about the cigar bands on my beloved cigars. The final gift under the tree was a rectangular box that I hadn't noticed until my grandmother placed it on my lap. She said, "This is a special gift, a family heirloom if you will. Go ahead, open it." So I did.

What was inside might not mean very much to some people, but to me it was a treasure. I opened the box to find a notebook, a very old, dusty, faded notebook. As I looked closer, engraved on the outer front cover was the name of my grandfather, whom I happened to be very close with before he passed away four years ago in March. When I opened the notebook, I was overwhelmed to see my grandfather's 74-year-old cigar band collection that he compiled as a young boy. This notebook contains thousands of cigar bands, all in order by brand, all labeled in his boyhood handwriting. My grandmother was so full of emotion as she began to explain how my grandfather would rummage below grandstands as a child, looking for the cigar bands that would be left behind following an election or a celebration, to add to his favorite pastime.

I thanked my grandmother with all my heart for this wonderful gift. She may or may not understand how much it meant to me, since the feeling that came over me was indescribable, although, once again I felt close to my grandfather.

Dan Lilly
Walnut Creek, California

***

Dear Marvin,

I was looking forward to enjoying some fine cigars on a recent trip to Chicago. Considering the city's past history, I assumed it to be a cigar friendly town. In fact, I was very pleased with the well-stocked humidors at several outstanding cigar shops and their knowledgeable and friendly staff who supplied me with a wonderful array of Dominicans and Hondurans. With my travel humidor in hand, I set out to enjoy a nice long smoke at a local hotel.

I called the Four Seasons Hotel and was told that my cigars and I would be welcomed.
My actual experience could not have been further from the truth. The hotel set aside a small room with a bar for the "smokers." Unfortunately, this evening the room was closed for a "private party." I was relocated to the main lounge and was told by the maître d' that, 'yes,' it was OK to enjoy my Montecristo Churchill and a single malt Scotch. No sooner did I remove the cigar from my burlwood travel case than a waiter rushed to tell me that my cigar could not be smoked in the hotel lounge. An inquiry to the maître d' revealed that a couple sitting on the other side of the lounge had complained (I hadn't even lit the cigar!) and the hotel's "policy" was that if any patrons object, you cannot smoke a cigar. It was offered that I sit in the lobby until some others had finished tea and it would be OK to smoke there. Not wanting to light up my favorite cigar only to have to put it out, I left feeling bewildered, betrayed and misled.

Imagine my anticipation, shortly after this experience, in looking forward to a skiing trip to Park City, Utah, with my trusty travel humidor in my ski bag. With the thought of nothing better than a great smoke in the great outdoors, I was dismayed to find that Utah's Clean Air Act "prohibits smoking in any public building or place." The only place you can smoke a cigar, it seems, is if the cigarette smokers allow you in a private club!

But I found what it takes to enjoy the warmth and comfort of a lit cigar in hand (or glove)--peace and quiet on skis at 10,000 feet atop the summit!


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