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Dear Marvin:
As a full-time student at Georgetown University and a cigar lover, I often find myself making economic sacrifices so I can occasionally treat myself to my beloved Ashton Churchills. Whenever I can afford to partake in a good smoke, it is a rare and special occasion. Needless to say, however, the politically correct atmosphere of my college campus makes cigar smoking as persecuted as armed assault, perhaps more so. Well, it was just a while ago when celebrating a law-school acceptance letter that my roommate Steve and I set off to commemorate the occasion by, what else, smoking a glorious Ashton. But as soon as we had lit up our beauties in the seemingly comfortable confines of a favorite off-campus bar, we were immediately met with scornful stares from the staff and patrons. Ignoring the fact that the bar was already filled with the seemingly "acceptable" smoke of numerous cigarettes, men and women alike felt the need to ruin our smokes with their discourteous glances. As if this was not enough to make us feel as though we were as offensive as a pair of pedophiles, the deejay himself made the comment to the dancing crowd about whether what he smelled was "a cigar or someone burning a shoe." We were red-faced with embarrassment but finished our cigars, defiantly smoking in the face of what I feared could become a violent mob. I was surprised and saddened to see that so many of my contemporaries do not apply their religion of tolerance and acceptance to something as mundane as cigar smoking. I will continue to smoke and hopefully break down the barriers that are separating "us" from "them." Needless to say, however, I will in the future celebrate special occasions with my close friends only, and, of course, my Ashtons! Thank you for a great magazine and the support we aficionados need.
Thomas D. Pahlke
Washington, D.C.
Editor's Response: Thank you for standing tall.

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Dear Marvin:
You're right on the mark in saying we "are not voiceless victims anymore." Your publication has done more than anything else to bring the fraternity of cigar smokers together. As our numbers and your readership grows, we will become more of a potent force. You should challenge each of your subscribers to convert one or more noncigar smokers to our cause by the end of the year. This is the best way to benefit us all. I'll make the first pledge--though my wife doesn't smoke, I'll try to "enlighten" her this year. This should be an interesting New Year's resolution! (Who knows--maybe I'll at least get to smoke in the house.)
We should all target more women to join us. I was at first offended at Gay Talese's remark that cigar dinners were a "man's terrain." He recanted, and I think Gina Bennet said it best, "a woman's taste buds are no different from a man's." I think it is wrong to constantly target women as the most vocal complainers about cigars. I have received more negative comments from men than women. Increasing the number of women cigar smokers will assist our cause more than any other action. I find it extremely pleasant to enjoy a cigar in the company of men and women at cigar dinners--as I feel most of us do. I also think that all male cigar smokers find that, next to love, the most wonderful feeling is being with a woman who enjoys a good cigar.
Joseph J. Leonard Jr.
Lieutenant, U.S. Coast Guard
Houston, Texas

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Dear Marvin:
Greetings! I wanted to drop you a line applauding your great magazine.
As a young (35 years old) priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church, my introduction to the joys of cigars came about two years ago when the archbishop of our church walked me into a cigar shop in San Clemente, California, and purchased for me a Romeo y Julieta. Since then, I have become a lover of one of God's wonders of creation!
Living in the buckle of the Bible Belt, I am aware that some believe smoking a horrid sin. But I am reminded of that illustrious Baptist preacher of London a century ago, Charles Spurgeon. Spurgeon immensely enjoyed fine cigars, and when an unknowing guest preacher spoke out against the evils of smoking, Spurgeon closed the evening service by saying to his congregation, "What, for some, is sin, others do to the glory of God. And the good Dr. Pentecost's remarks notwithstanding, I intend to go home tonight and smoke a cigar to the glory of God. It is a kind of incense drifting to Heaven."
Rev. Kenneth Myers
The Deanery of Texas
Denison, Texas

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Dear Marvin:
I would like to share a little buyer-beware education. As many of us know, La Gloria Cubana is a very difficult cigar to come by at your local tobacconist. Having read so much about this wonderful cigar in Cigar Aficionado, I was thrilled to learn that my business would take me to Miami. I immediately made plans to set aside some time to spend with one of my associates, Frank Alvarez (a native of Little Havana) to go to the La Gloria Cubana factory.
When I arrived in Miami, I checked the phone book and did not find El Credito Cigar Company listed. (I should have called information.) I then found under cigars/tobacconist only one outlet which looked close to the name "La Gloria Cubana"; this was called the La Gloria Cigar Company. Naturally, my first thought was that some sort of legal action might have been taken with respect to the Havana brand name since I last read about La Gloria Cubana in Vol. 1, No. 3, Spring 1993. So, we called this number and the proprietor assured us (in Spanish) that the La Gloria Cubana was made there.
Upon arrival, the place looked nothing like the one pictured in the Spring 1993 issue. I asked if Mr. Carillo was around and he said, "No, not today." Frank mentioned that we were looking for El Credito Cigar Co. where La Gloria Cubana cigars are made. His reply was that "I know of no such place, but we make the La Gloria Cigar here and have been for 40 years."
Well, I guess it was the rush from the smell of the walk-in humidor or the sight of the little old man in the back room carefully manufacturing a batch of double coronas. But whatever, I purchased a box of piramides from the humidor, which he assured me were ready to smoke. And, what the heck, even if they weren't the real McCoy, and he sure as heck wasn't going to tell us where the real factory was, maybe these would turn out to be a nice, local smoke.
We left with the booty, and proceeded to Frank's favorite coffee bar for an afternoon snack. As we sat and enjoyed the wonderful smells and flavors of the neighborhood, the architecture of the block and the coffee bar seemed familiar and reminded me of the pictures printed in your article. We finished and walked to the other end of the block, and lo and behold, there it was, El Credito Cigar Company.
We were greeted by Ernesto Carillo's daughter Lissette, who was very pleasant and knowledgeable. When we told her what had happened, she said, "that guy was a friend of my grandfather's and he knows exactly who and where we are." She also mentioned that they are listed in the phone book under cigar manufacturers, which is why in my excitement, I didn't find them listed in the first place. I purchased several sizes and also a box of Wavells and we were on our way.
Since then I have enjoyed several, genuine La Gloria Cubanas and they have measured up to everything Cigar Aficionado has rated them to be. As for the imposter? Well let's just my c.a. rating would be low--and 10 points lower for dishonesty.
Joseph B. Laudano
Nutley, New Jersey

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Dear Marvin:
Imagine my dismay when the enclosed 1994 Chicago Cubs pocket schedule arrived in my mail and there, directly opposite from the increased ticket price information, I read, "smoking is not permitted in Wrigley Field's seating areas."
If you have ever been able to spend an afternoon at Wrigley Field, you know that it is a wonderful experience in and of itself. The aroma and taste of a good cigar serve only to enhance the experience, not detract from it. Can't we at least be relegated to the upper deck in a smoking section? I would hate to have to become a White Sox fan over this.
Say it ain't so, Marvin.
Tom Presperin
Naperville, Illinois
Editor's Response: It's pretty pathetic that in the United States of America there are places like Wrigley Field that prohibit cigar smoking outdoors. Just think about it.

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Dear Marvin:
Reading the newspaper every day, I have come to the conclusion that tobacco smoke has been elevated to the nation's No. 1 health threat! Not a week goes by without reading another so-called scientific study that warns us about the dreadful consequences of secondhand smoke. Without relying on scientific tests, but trusting my eyes, nose and soundness of reasoning, I can assure your readers that the danger is minimal.
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