Out of the Humidor
From the Print Edition:
Vince McMahon, Nov/Dec 99
(continued from page 2)
As a physician with a passion for fine cigars and vintage Port, I enjoy my subscription to your magazine. However, I found the article on famous cigar smokers of this century simultaneously amusing, informative and annoying. Your glaring omission of Sigmund Freud's primary cancer of the mouth struck me like the proverbial ton of bricks! All the vignettes took pains to include cigar-related details of people's lives; surely Freud's illness qualifies in spades. This omission reveals a consistent bias in your publication. Please do not minimize the health risks of cigar smoking on the basis of insufficient data in occasional smokers. This approach is hauntingly similar to that taken by the cigarette industry until recently. Instead, restrict your arguments to those dealing with personal freedom, which are far, far more valid.
Morris Browman, MD
via Cigar Aficionado Online
Editor's Note: We continually remind our readers that cigar smoking is not risk-free, but a pleasure freely chosen as is our right as American adults. Our listing was a fun diversion, not a pathology report. It should also be noted that Freud lived to the age of 83, dying in London in 1939. At the time of his death, the average life span of American men was 60 years.
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I enjoyed the article about the "Greatest Cigar Smokers of the Century" and it reminded me of a great cigar smoker of two centuries. He is my great, great, great, great uncle, Sir William Van Horne. He was a man of many accomplishments, credited with building the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Banff Springs Hotel as well as many other successful businesses in Canada. But it was while building the Cuba Co. Railroad in 1900 when his lifelong love of fine cigars took hold. (The Cubans praised him for his honesty; he refused to use kickbacks and payoffs to build in Cuba.)
After twice rejecting knighthood, Van Horne reluctantly accepted the honor in 1894. Sir William was a gourmand, and at a dinner shortly after being knighted Van Horne announced that his coat of arms would be "a dinner horn pendant upon a kitchen door." One of his life philosophies was, "I eat all I can; I drink all I can; I smoke all I can; and I don't give a damn about anything!" His legendary poker games were supplemented by snacks of caviar, whiskey and pungent cigars.
Shortly before his death in 1915, Sir William was hospitalized for a stomach ailment. While he was recovering, his doctors pleaded with him to limit himself to three cigars a day. He agreed. The next day a package arrived for Sir William. Inside it was a special selection of perfecto cigars--each one two feet long. Complying with his doctor's orders, he smoked no more than three cigars a day; however, each cigar was a four-hour smoke. I like to think that my love of a good smoke comes from my uncle of the past, and to him I light up and enjoy.
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