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Great Moments: Kennedy, Cuba and Cigars

Pierre Salinger
From the Print Edition:
Premier Issue, Autumn 92

(continued from page 2)

The President looked shocked. "Do you have any idea what a scandal it will create if someone finds out you brought those cigars illegally into this country, particularly since I banned them?"

"It's no problem, Mr. President," I replied. "There are only three persons who know about these cigars--you, me and Khrushchev."

"That won't work. I want you to take them over to the chief of customs, and turn them over. And because I don't trust you with regards to cigars, I want you to come back with a receipt."

Overwhelmed with sadness, I went to customs and handed them over. After the chief had given me a receipt, I asked him what he was going to do with the cigars.

"Destroy them," he said without any sentiment.

"Yes, I know," I said as I was walking out of his office. "You're going to destroy them one by one."

About six months ago, nearly 30 years after my sad encounter with U.S. Customs, I landed at Kennedy airport in New York City. I walked through Customs and saw a Customs agent smoking a Cuban Davidoff cigar. He was obviously destroying a confiscated batch one by one.

Since 1968, I have been working in Europe. So, my access to Cuban cigars is no longer a problem. They are available everywhere, even though at a high price. But my learning about cigars hasn't stopped over the years. For instance, in 1974, I finally went to Cuba where I ended up in a long meeting with Castro. He handed me my first Cohiba cigar which at the time was still unavailable to the general public.

So, Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro all had a hand in my cigar mania.

As I rush to finish up this piece, I'm puffing away on a Partagas Lusitania, which to my taste, is the best Cuban cigar in the world today. And, over the years, I learned about the best from some of history's great cigar I like the best.

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Comments   2 comment(s)

John LaPorta — port charlotte, florida, usa,  —  February 3, 2012 11:06pm ET


RT Elkin — Coram, NY, 11727,  —  April 1, 2012 8:43am ET

Funny thing is, Salinger wrote an article for the New Yorker denying the event ever occurred....

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