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Dear Marvin,
I am a 26-year-old mother-to-be. I have a good marriage to a great man. Recently, my husband got deep into the cigar habit. For the past eight months, I have called cigar shops and cigar manufacturers in search of one special brand: La Gloria Cubana. I've called shops in New Jersey, where we reside, in New York, Connecticut, even Miami!
One day, my husband and I drove to a nearby town. On a quiet block, we saw a cigar shop. To our surprise, they had La Gloria in stock! A box of 25 and a few loose cigars will hold my husband over for a few weeks and give me time to rest.
Michele Fico
Bayonne, New Jersey

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Dear Marvin,
In June, I attended New York Day ceremonies at the White House with my wife. During the receiving line/photo opportunity session with President Clinton, I offered the president an H. Upmann cigar. He looked at the cigar and said, "It's a good one." I responded, "Did you think I would bring the president of the United States a bad cigar?" He laughed. The night before, I was at a wedding and had a Cuban cigar, which I considered bringing to the White House, but figured that it would be a mistake since they are still illegal. While the President smiled at that, I couldn't help but think that he was just a bit disappointed that I didn't bring the Cuban cigar, too.
William E. Rapfogel
New York, New York

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Dear Marvin,
I wish to thank you and your fine magazine for providing me with a new and extremely satisfying hobby: fine cigars.
For years, whenever I thought of cigars, I thought of the Italian ropes that my grandfather smoked. They were cured in wine and they smelled awful.
Throughout my adult years my only experiences with cigars were the "It's A Boy" cheapies that friends would pass out upon arrival of a baby.
Then came an awakening. About two years ago, while in New York City, I found myself in front of Nat Sherman, the "tobacconist to the world." From the moment I walked in, I was hooked. The aroma of all those fine cigars was irresistible. The lush appointments and accessories were breathtaking. The friendliness and helpfulness of the salespeople was a great comfort. One gentleman was especially gracious. He took the time and trouble to explain to me, a complete novice, all the qualities and characteristics of the many different brands and types of cigars. When I walked into that store, I didn't know the difference between a Romeo y Julieta and a White Owl. Believe me, I do now. It's not just a matter of price or prestige or brand name. It's a matter of pure relaxation, enjoyment and satisfaction that is very rare to come by these days.
It was that same day that I was introduced to your magazine. It was your Summer 1993 issue. I read it from cover to cover, and when I was through, I subscribed immediately, and then I went out and purchased a humidor. The first contents I placed in it were the Nat Sherman Tribecas I had purchased that day.
Since then I eagerly await each issue of Cigar Aficionado. When it arrives, I head straight to the blind taste testings. These tests have led me to some superb cigars which have given me a great deal of enjoyment. My next big step is to attend a "Big Smoke." They look like such warm and friendly affairs. Judging by the photos in every issue, everyone seems to be having a great time.
Tomorrow, I'll be making a trip to my tobacconist. While I'm in the walk-in humidor like a big kid in a candy store, "one of these and one of those," I will be reaping the rewards of the knowledge I've obtained from your magazine. I believe this time around I'll try a Savinelli ELR Churchill.
Again I say thank you for creating such a great magazine. I hope to enjoy it and my cigars for many years to come.
John Polozzolo
Bridgeport, Connecticut

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Dear Marvin,
I am writing to you as a younger member of the growing population of cigar smokers, but a lover of cigars just the same. I am not old enough to buy cigars (well, legally). I do manage, however, through my parents or most of the time, myself. I have been smoking cigars for well over a year now and it all started with my best friend one summer night, when we had nothing to do. It wasn't until a trip to Lake Placid, New York, I took with my parents that I discovered the world of cigars. My dad (who only smokes cigars on occasion) and I walked into the humidor at a smoke shop there and stared in amazement. We made our selections (and I cannot, for the life of me, remember what kind they were), had them cut, and were on our way.
On the way out of the store I noticed your issue of Cigar Aficionado with Bill Cosby on the cover. I sifted through the pages and was amazed that there was actually a magazine about something I loved! I knew, at that moment, I had stumbled upon something that would last a lifetime. My dad and I enjoyed our cigars that evening, and all along I was thinking about your magazine, kicking myself for not having purchased it.
Since then I have found a shop by me that sells your magazine--I buy every issue--and fine cigars. My parents brought back some fine Cubans with them after a trip to Toronto. Among them was a Bolivar Robusto and a Partagas Series D No. 4. After a trip to Niagara Falls, my girlfriend brought me back a Cohiba. Most all my friends who know I smoke cigars have wanted to smoke with me. Naturally, I am generous and would rather smoke with a friend, so I give out some cigars of my own. I have even turned my dad back into a regular cigar smoker.
I just wanted to let you know, Marvin, that every time I see one of my peers spend their time getting drunk and partying, I think about a better way to use my time. I think about the kind of lifestyle that your magazine has portrayed for me and the amount of respect I have for you. But most of all, I think about the fine cigar I am about to smoke and the experience that will follow. I am just one of however many teenagers that enjoy the finer things in life. I will be 18 years old in September and one day I hope to have the pleasure (and money!) to attend one of your "Big Smokes" and to meet cigar aficionados from across the globe, but most of all, you.
Ben Scrivens
Rochester, New York

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Dear Marvin,
As a public school teacher and cigar lover, I am very impressed with Cigar Aficionado. It is a beautiful, intelligent, well-laid out magazine with only one problem--you tend to give the impression that wonderful cigars are only being enjoyed by the elite (actors, comedians, politicians, etc.) of our society. There are many of us "working stiffs" out here who dream of purchasing, handling, lighting and smoking hand-rolled tobacco delights.
On a recent trip to Europe I had a few cigar experiences I wanted to share. Upon reaching London, I immediately sought out the closest tobacconist in relation to my hotel. Tearing the Habanos advertisement out of the most recent Cigar Aficionado and inquiring of my tour guide, I was pointed in the direction of Harrod's--the large London department store. Harrod's is an experience everyone should have in order to fully appreciate the terms "class" and "customer service."
The discriminating cigar lover is presented with a fairly impressive display of Cuban as well as Dominican tobacco treats. I, of course, ignored the Dominican shelf since they are widely available in the States, and spent a few wide-eyed moments perusing the Cuban selection. Large sizes were in short supply, but Partagas, Bolivar, H. Upmann, Cohiba, Punch, El Rey del Mundo and others were represented.
The prices certainly make Americans, used to paying $3 to $5 for decent Dominican, Honduran, or Mexican cigars, pale with shock at the sight of how so much will buy so little. "What the heck," I said, and plunged in, realizing the rarity of this possibility--the possibility to circumvent the most ridiculous embargo in the history of the United States. I leapt in, picking up one here and another there. I was the proverbial "kid in the candy store" while I satisfied a 10-year desire to own and enjoy the best in the world. I did and I do. At about 15 British pounds each (about $22), my seven Romeo y Julieta Churchills made up the heart of the purchase.
I then found by chance a very nice little tobacconist at London's Covent Garden. My tour guide, knowing my passion for cigars, found me in the crowd and sent me to it, credit card in hand. The shop is Mullins and Westley Ltd.'s Segar and Snuff Parlour. In a shop approximately the size of a closet, I looked over an inventory that included small numbers of several brands and sizes of Cuban delights.
Of course, I smoked and disposed of all Cubans purchased before I left the European continent and returned to the "land of the free and the home of the brave."
I will now retire to my backyard for a family barbecue, after which I will enjoy a very, very, good cigar!
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