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You Bet Your Life

Groucho Marx knew the secret word was enjoyment.
Arthur Marx
From the Print Edition:
Groucho Marx, Spring 93

(continued from page 5)

So one morning when I thought father was out walking the dog, I filled the bowl of my prized Dunhill with Dream Castle pipe tobacco that I'd bought at the same store that sold me the corncob, and after several false starts, fired it up with a kitchen match.

I was just getting the knack of keeping a pipe lit when I heard father's footsteps coming down the hall towards my open bedroom door.

Knowing he'd disapprove, I quickly stashed the lighted pipe in the bottom drawer of my desk and closed it. But there was no way I could rid the room of the cloud of acrid smoke hanging over my chair, or the smell of cheap tobacco.

As Groucho entered, he took one whiff of the smoke, stopped in his tracks, and stared at me under raised eyebrows. But instead of bawling me out, he wheeled around and strode back down the hall to his bedroom. When he returned a couple of minutes later I expected him to he carrying a bullwhip. Instead he had a handful of pipes, a can of Dunhill tobacco and a box of Dunhill 410s. He spread all this tobacco paraphernalia out on the desk in front of me and said, "If you're going to smoke, smoke some decent tobacco. That stuff you're smoking smells like horse manure."

"You mean, you want me to smoke?" I asked.

"I don't want you to, but if you're old enough to join the army,

you re old enough to do what you want."

"You mean that?"

"Hell yes. I was smoking when I was only fifteen. And I had the clap when I was sixteen. But if you insist on smoking, promise me one thing--that you do it in moderation. As long as you don't smoke too much, and stay away from cigarettes, it'll never hurt you."

To show that he meant it, three years later, after we were in the war with Japan, and I, as a member of the U.S. Coast Guard, was stationed on a remote island in the South Pacific, Groucho placed a standing order with Dunhill to ship me 50 of its 410s once a month. Of course my boxes of Dunhill cigars didn't always arrive intact. Not after the fleet postmaster, who apparently was a cigar aficionado himself, discovered what was in those mysterious aromatic packages from Dunhill addressed to Yeoman First Class, Arthur Marx.

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