My Dad Was A Smoker
Copyright 2021 by Lew Goddard
He sat in a high backed wooden chair that
the slightest move after dinner. Tobacco, in those days was
available in packed layers of leaves and fashioned much like a
cigarette package and to keep it fresh it was wrapped in cellophane.
After carefully cutting the plug into small portions that fit in his
pipe, he reached into his front right pocket and extracted a brass
colored bullet shaped lighter. The top was removed and with a flick
of his calloused thumb it burst into flame. It had to be tipped at
just the right angle so it caught the tobacco on fire but he didnít
burn his thumb. The lighter was restored to his pocket.
With a look of contentment, he settled back
in the chair
and drew smoke from his pipe. The words are ďhe puffed.Ē
Within fifteen seconds an immense cloud of smoke surrounded him and
caught whatever draft there was available in an ancient house built
with upright railway ties, asphalt siding and lathe and plaster
But he said that he never inhaled.
I thought nothing of it as I drew in the
and I thought I could understand my Fatherís pleasure. My
Mother never objected and if she approved then it certainly must be
Nothing changed as years went by except
that at the age
of thirteen I started to smoke cigarettes. ďRoll your own,Ē
they were called. I hid the tobacco and papers in the outhouse and no
one else found it until one evening I neglected to leave it there and
when I undressed, I placed it on my dresser. My sleeping area was
accessible to my parents and early the next morning, my Dad spotted
my makings. He didnít awaken me but later in the morning all he
said was donít expect me to pay for your cigarettes.
I guess he felt that he couldnít condemn me
because he smoked.
He never paid for my cigarettes but at
times I helped
him pay for his tobacco. I would lend him a dollar but I always
received a dollar and a quarter in return.
In addition to smoking, my Dad chewed tobacco as well.
He would bite a dime sized corner off a similarly shaped plug that
appeared to have been soaked in oil. I tried it once and it convinced
me that my assumption was correct.
He passed away at the age of seventy nine.
retired at the age of sixty, he apparently thought he would have many
years of happy leisure to do whatever he wished. For some seven or
eight years, he languished and actually grew a little fat. Iím
almost certain that he smoked more because it was not unusual for him
to actually bite off the stem of his pipe.
Once when I returned home from work out of
noticed that he was not as quick witted as usual but didnít say
anything. Each time I saw him, it was evident that something was
wrong. My Mother and I discussed it and we persuaded my Dad to attend
a physician. Several tests indicated miniscule strokes. Part of the
Doctorís diagnosis related to arterial hardening and hence a
disruption of blood flows. My Dad wasted away over the next years to
virtually a living corpse.
Just after his death I quit smoking. Thatís
forty years ago. I know in my heart that my Dadís smoking had a great
deal to do with the terrible wasted final years.
But he didnít inhale.
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
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