Out of the Humidor
From the Print Edition:
Dennis Haysbert, Nov/Dec 2006
(continued from page 4)
Sandy Hook, Connecticut
Recently I attended a charity auction for Heartbeat International in Tampa, Florida. At the end of the evening, I went to see what I had won and to pay my tab. The clerk opened my file and said, "Oh my, you have quite a list."
I was aware of a few items I would probably win, but couldn't imagine on what else I was the lucky bidder. In the group were two Panama hats, two folk art trays from Mexico, a piece of pottery from Romania and a box of Baccarat Churchill cigars from Honduras.
Before I go on, I must tell you I am a female and I don't smoke cigars. In fact, in my area of south Georgia, I don't know anyone who smokes cigars. What I was bidding on were memories of happier times and I had won them.
Back in the mid-'70s, I met an artist who smoked cigars. We lived in another area where it was impossible to get good cigars and he was a mail-order customer of a smoke shop in Washington, D.C. Whenever he traveled to another city, the first thing he looked for was a smoke shop in order to try something different.
When we started seeing each other, he talked about the romance of cigars. He was a ruggedly handsome Hemingway type who appreciated the finer things in life. Wanting to know why he was so fascinated by cigars, I bought a couple of books to read, not only to gain cigar knowledge, but to impress him.
The first gift I ever gave him was a box of Bering Corona Royales—at that time a 40-cent cigar—which I ordered from a shop in Columbus, Ohio. He was always a most gracious receiver of anything I gave him and let me know that he had never received anything he appreciated as much as these cigars. I think at that moment he decided I might make a good life partner. (I am sure all his previous lady friends abhorred this "filthy cigar habit" and let him know it.)
Needless to say, we did marry and even opened our own smoke shop, bringing fine cigars to our area. Later, we opened another shop in Florida. I loved working in the shops and introduced many people to the finer cigars available to them. We visited the cigar factories in Tampa and also the little factories in Miami where Cuban families had set up shop.
We took fishing trips to Canada in June when the mosquitoes were hatching and would probably have devoured us had we not repelled them with our cigar smokes. We had stopped in Toronto and bought real Cuban cigars, and my husband had brought along his own stash, and all of us, including my 10-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter, smoked cigars purely for survival. It was a sight to see them trying to puff on a cigar while reeling in a fish.
Later, the cigar business became very tough. It seemed that at every downtown or mall event, the American Cancer Society had displays outside our stores warning about smoking. It became an economic problem for us and finally we sold both our stores.