Out of the Humidor
From the Print Edition:
Chuck Norris, Jul/Aug 98
I am a federal worker who quite often commutes the Northeast corridor via Amtrak Metroliner from Philadelphia to D.C. and back in the same day. This grueling trek requires an early departure, so I always visit my humidor to pack away a good cigar for my visit in case the opportunity presents itself. One day, I finished my scheduled business and returned to the train station, just missing my train by seconds. Since the Metroliner runs on hourly schedules, I had an hour to stand under the station portico in the shade and enjoy my Don Tomás.
After lighting up, I was treated to a performance by a great jazz saxophonist, who was playing out on the traffic island for cash. What a great way to end the day! It got better, however, when the cigar aroma allowed me to transcend the age barrier and get the treat of a lifetime! I got to speak with Mr. Johnson, who was 89 years young. He remarked as he walked by, "That cigar smells real good. In fact, I used to smoke Phillys and Muriels." I felt bad about bringing just a single cigar, but he told me he couldn't smoke cigars anymore anyway, although he missed them greatly.
At that point, we talked for about 45 minutes about his life as a retired postal worker (he still carried around his retirement papers), how much a horn player makes in a day, and his wife, who had passed away several years ago. Before she died, she made sure he would still go for his daily walk that they both used to take religiously, and since he lived in D.C., he had to continue to dress in a dignified manner for his walk. He did cut a dapper figure at 89.
Unfortunately for me, trains do eventually arrive, cigars must burn toward their bands, and my meeting with Mr. Johnson had to end. It would not, however, be forgotten. I wrote this letter to make sure Mr. Johnson's tale never dies.
Russel J. Griffith
Bellmawr, New Jersey
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My cigar odyssey began more than 12 years ago, when as a young man of 15 I would steal my father's H. Upmanns, which he shamefully kept in the refrigerator. Throughout my adolescence I watched the great men in my life celebrate their triumphs, bond with friends and relax after long days with a cigar. Consequently, I began to consider cigars as a symbol of success.
Entering the United States Military Academy after high school only furthered my beliefs. The American military has a great and colorful history of cigar smokers, and the Corps of Cadets does its best to continue that tradition at Army-Navy game tailgates and informal gatherings of future Army officers. Visions of Sherman vigorously chewing his cigar during the siege of Vicksburg, of Patton casually lighting up during his 1944 dash across France, and of the common grunt raiding wine and Cognac cellars in Lorraine during the race to the Rhine and finding the added bonus of aged cigars, permeate American military history.
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