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 What drew you to pipes?

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Age : 67
Location : New Orleans, LA USA
Registration date : 2011-12-18

PostSubject: My Uncle, My Hero   Sun Dec 18, 2011 3:14 pm

After reading all the wonderful posts here, I knew I needed to respond and pay tribute to my Uncle Alton. My mother's only brother, Alton was the most incredible man I've ever known. He is the inspiration for who I am today. From a young age, I knew that I wanted to grow up to be just like him in all the .ways I possibly could. My Dad was not home a lot due to work, and Alton became his stand-in. He was the type of man that women loved because he was always smiling and making jokes and never showing disrespect to them. Men wanted to be around him because he was masculine and a very good friend. And he was my 'buddy". He always treated me like one of the guys, like a miniature adult. And I idolized him.

Alton smoked cigars sometimes, but mostly he smoked his pipes. I loved the aroma of whatever tobacco he had burning in the bowl. I decided my first and easiest way to be like him was to smoke cigars and pipes. When I turned 13, I found myself alone at his home one Saturday afternoon. He had left a couple cigar butts in his big ashtray next to his recliner. I picked up one and decided it was too short to try to smoke. I opened his humidor and picked up my first cigar. I grabbed matches and jumped the fence to get into the woods behind his house making sure I had my privacy. I followed Alton's ritual to prepare the stogie, put it in my mouth and fired it up. I slowly got it lighted, and was blown away by the awesome taste. I got brave and inhaled. I didn't even cough at all. the next inhale I filled my lungs and felt my head begin to spin. I was really smoking like Alton. That day I smoked my first entire cigar, and never really stopped. I smoked with a buddy through high school and into college. My second year I spent holidays with my Uncle and on my return to school, I went to the drug store and bought my first pipe. That's when I finally felt I had become like my uncle. I even had developed a bit of a beer belly like he had. The next year I brought my own cigars, pipes and tobacco and shared with my hero. That day he told me he had known about my stealing a cigar all those years ago, and was glad that I had. Until he passed away in 1994, I always looked forward to visiting my uncle, and spending as many hours as we could smoking together and talking about anything that came to mind.

Even now, after 15 years without him, I still can feel his presence every time I put a match to the bowl of my pipes or to the tip of a cigar. Like many have already said here, when I smoke I relax, calm down, and get a better perspective on the happenings of life. And I owe all of it to my uncle Alton, the man who inspired and taught me to be a real man.
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Age : 60
Location : Northeast Wisconsin
Registration date : 2009-07-07

PostSubject: Re: What drew you to pipes?   Mon Dec 19, 2011 12:02 am

These are great stories. I don't know of any pipe smokers near me.

I got started around 1981 when I worked in a metal fab shop for a shipyard in Tacoma, WA. Everybody smoked a pipe it seemed and when I inquired, I was invited to a weekly saturday morning sampling party at the local Tinderbox with some guys I worked with. They (the Tinderbox) sold me a basket pipe and suggested I sample a few of their counter blends. I was sold on Norsegold. Captain Spice and Willshire also come to mind. I later moved up to a Ben Wade, gourd calabash, and a meerschaum pipe. Back then, Meerschaum pipes were a major pipe dude status symbol. Nobody dared question your knowledge of pipe smoking with one of those babys hanging out of your mouth.

For years I smoked my pipes only on occasion and stuck with drug store and pipe shop blends. Captain Black and cherry flavored pipe shop stuff were amongst favorites. Also went on a cigar craze sometime in the 90's. I still enjoy a good cigar now and then.

All this time, I was never really aware of tin blends until recent years when I tried a few. Half my life was wasted because I never experienced the joys of Latakias, Periques, ropes, and whatnot. This is when I started taking pipe smoking and pipe care seriously. I still have and enjoy the old Calabash I bought at the Tinderbox. It's always been a favorite. Especially behind the tube.
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Registration date : 2011-07-06

PostSubject: Re: What drew you to pipes?   Mon Dec 19, 2011 8:52 am

Great stories, gentlemen. Thanks.

This thread has been here since January, but it's my first time reading it. That's one of the many things I like about this forum - someone reaches up and pulls something down from the top shelf, dusts it off and it becomes new again! The discussion flows as if no intermittent time intervened.
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Age : 64
Location : East Texas
Registration date : 2011-12-15

PostSubject: Re: What drew you to pipes?   Mon Dec 19, 2011 12:02 pm

I started smoking a pipe in 1988 I believe. (Memory isn't much good for dates anymore) Because, like everything else I do I must do it to the extreme. That meaning that I've smoked cigarettes, chewed tobacco, dipped, smoked cigars, etc. That and I love the artistic value of pipes and how there designs seem to be endless. So I collect many of all types (to extreme) and smoke a few (cobs mostly).
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Age : 40
Location : Waverly, Ohio
Registration date : 2011-12-13

PostSubject: Re: What drew you to pipes?   Mon Dec 19, 2011 12:16 pm

Airborne wrote:
Great stories, gentlemen. Thanks.

This thread has been here since January, but it's my first time reading it. That's one of the many things I like about this forum - someone reaches up and pulls something down from the top shelf, dusts it off and it becomes new again! The discussion flows as if no intermittent time intervened.

I echo these sentiments whole-heartedly! Especially for a new-guy, it is great to go back and read and contribute to threads like this one!

As for myself...

I started smoking cigars in college, which would have been the late 1990's. I never smoked cigarettes, and probably smoked my first cigar at a bachelor party, or guys night out, or something like that. I liked it a lot, and found myself trying new cigars, and smoking them more regularly on and off over the years.

In 2006 or '07 I became friends with a guy at church who was a cigar and pipe smoker. We have a monthly book club which meets at his house, where we smoke, drink, and sometimes discuss books. When the weather is nice we often meet on the porch and smoke cigars, but when it's cold outside or the weather isn't fit we gather inside. He smokes a pipe indoors, but as a "house rule" there is no cigar or non-pipe smoking in the house.

I picked up my first pipe at a semi-local place, so that I could partake in the house during our book clubs. It was a $15, no-name straight billiard. I was hooked!

I've discovered in the mean time, that I much prefer bent pipes and although it's a cheap-o my current favorite one is a 1/2 bent Grabow I picked up from a local flea-market for $5. I also like church-wardens if I'm going to go with a straight stem. We almost always smoke Captain Black at book club, because it's the host's preferred tobacco and he supplies it for all of the pipe smokers.

I've found the pipe smoking community (especially online) to be "my people" in spirit, attitude, and temperament and I can't begin to say how much I've appreciated and enjoyed my short time as part of this community already!

I've been a crafter for years, from a long family line of wood crafters, carvers, painters, sculptors, and so on - so my father and I are putting together an order for a few pre-drilled PIMO kits to see if we can actually produce one or two of our own pipes.

I'm enjoying learning about the different pipe-makers, models, and styles and am excited about doing some shopping this winter and coming spring to add to my own collection!

Cheers gentlemen!

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Age : 34
Location : Durham, NC
Registration date : 2011-03-06

PostSubject: Re: What drew you to pipes?   Mon Dec 19, 2011 2:11 pm

Somehow, this is the first time I've spotted this thread and am delighted that I did. Everyone's stories are beautiful and well told. So much so that I find myself hesitating to include my own... but I will anyway. geek

When I was in my final year of college, I roomed with a friend of mine who has since earned a special place in my heart. He used to smoke cigarettes but kicked the habit entirely. At the time, I was a seasonal smoker, picking up a pack of Djarum blacks once a week once the weather began to take on a chill and putting out my last butt when the flowers of spring would start popping up.

That year after I'd picked up my third or fourth pack of Djarums, I had a familiar experience: shortness of breath, decreased stamina, and a sense of decreased health. I expressed this to my friend and he asked why I was still smoking. "I enjoy the taste," I said. His response: "Well, why not try a pipe?"

I picked up my first pipe at the Rite Aid on the corner of Corporate and Jefferson in Baton Rouge, LA. It was a prepackaged straight Dr. Grabow. My first tobacco was Bayou Sarah, hand blended by Sarah herself, purveyor and owner of Bayou Tobacco. This was a serious aromatic, and a tasty one at that. After one bowl, I was hooked.

Diving headfirst into the world of pipes, I began to uncover worlds of information online and from the older gentlemen at Bayou Tobacco. For about 9 months I was in that shop no less than 3 days a week learning about pipes and tobacco, learning to play backgammon, and building friendships. I always set aside a full day to spend at Bayou Tobacco any time I go back to LA and always look forward to seeing my friends there.

During this time, my collection grew from 1 Dr Grabow and 2 cobs to about 14 pipes from Savinelli, Nording, and Bjarne. Bjarne high grades became a treasure to me and I coveted them at every turn. I got my first high grade (a J) from Bayou Tobacco just before I moved out of Louisiana in 2008. That pipe is now in the hands of a fellow BoB and from what I've heard, he's enjoying it immensely. My second, the C Grade Rhodesian that has popped up in a few other threads, was purchased from Marty Pulvers at an incredibly reasonable price and is the pride and joy of my collection.

As far as what got me stuck on pipes, there are several answers there:

1. I love the act of creating smoke. It is reflective and beautiful. This is the same reason that I love campfires.
2. I love the camaraderie that comes with the pipe. Every tobacco shop that I've ever set foot in carrying a pipe was one that I did not leave without making new friends.
3. I've always loved functional, sculptural art and pipes are just that.

I think thefoolish said it best:
thefoolish wrote:
I find pipes to be a work of art, and I think this is true beyond the obvious. It does not take the penetration of the philosopher to see that pipes are visually appealing. But art makes one stop and reflect -- reflect upon the art, upon the world, upon oneself. Pipes do this better than most things. In this way, the process of enjoying a pipe is, in itself, meditative artwork.

Thanks for this thread and for all of your stories. It's wonderful to hear them.
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Kyle Weiss


Location : Reno, NV
Registration date : 2011-09-18

PostSubject: Re: What drew you to pipes?   Mon Dec 19, 2011 3:48 pm

Everyone's filling this thread up with words, so I'll try to keep it brief. (Yeah, me. Rolling Eyes )

When I was under...more interesting living circumstances (license plate for street address)...I worked at an old folks home here in Reno around age 16. I altered my driver's ID to show I was 18, so I could get the job; just a dishwashing/sauce prep gig in their kitchen.

Often delivered food to those folks not feeling so well or those who had trouble shuffling down to the dining hall. I like old folks a lot. Their stories, their genuine appreciation for company, their remarkable ability to adapt to their circumstances. Lloyd was one of those guys, in his early 90s. I still remember his dishes: "No green shit, just potatoes and meat, boy, you understand?" Every single time. Laughing He knew I smoked cigarettes at that time.

"You gotta get rid of those damn things, kid, they'll ruin your teeth and your soul. What you need is briarwood!" he said. He hobbled over to his night stand and pulled out two pipes. He handed me one. "Here, I ain't got a disease, anything that would have killed me this far I already killed it, you can be sure of that." After tossing me a pouch of Captain Black and this older Grabow Lark (which I still have), I apparently had to learn to smoke.

This ritual went on for about a week, then two, then a month. I enjoyed myself. I learned how to clean, pack and smoke a pipe in that time. Two days before Lloyd passed on he also gave me his favorite trilby fedora. I was really upset when he left, he was my friend. I sadly don't have the hat anymore, as it got lost in my many moves at that time. I left that job and went to the Bay Area to live for a while, brought my pipe with me. Being a quasi-civilized, homeless teen with a fedora and a pipe got me weirder looks than panhandling.

May Lloyd rest his soul for helping me find a way to calm mine. Cool
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Age : 36
Location : Swanzey, NH
Registration date : 2010-10-23

PostSubject: Re: What drew you to pipes?   Mon Dec 19, 2011 7:16 pm

Easy, Cigars started costing too much. For the cost of a box of 20 cigars I can buy 400 bowls worth of pipe tobacco. Plus I was thinking of growing some tobacco and shredding tobacco is much easier than rolling a cigar.
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Age : 66
Location : Arid-zona
Registration date : 2011-05-04

PostSubject: Re: What drew you to pipes?   Sun Dec 25, 2011 8:36 pm

Short answer - my late Pap smoked a pipe as long as I can remember. I figured if it was good enough for my Pap it was good enough for me. Even started out with the same blend that he exclusively smoked - Uhle's #255.

So there ya go......



"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy" - Benjamin Franklin

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Age : 60
Location : Northeast Wisconsin
Registration date : 2009-07-07

PostSubject: Re: What drew you to pipes?   Sun Dec 25, 2011 8:43 pm

ZeroContent wrote:
Easy, Cigars started costing too much. For the cost of a box of 20 cigars I can buy 400 bowls worth of pipe tobacco.

Seeing a tin of Nightcap costs what a single Cohiba costs, I can't agree with you more. A bowl of Nightcap is just as satisfying as a Cohiba if not more.
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taja-big dog


Age : 74
Location : Michigan
Registration date : 2010-11-01

PostSubject: what drew me to pipes?   Mon Dec 26, 2011 5:52 pm

My Dad. He loved Amphora ...brown pack, never the red. I've had a Brigham or a Peterson for about 40 years. My boss where I work now even lets me smoke it on the job which is just one reason I like working for him.
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Age : 45
Location : Park Hills, MO
Registration date : 2011-01-19

PostSubject: Re: What drew you to pipes?   Mon Dec 26, 2011 6:18 pm

My grandfather always smoked Middleton's Cherry Blend and my dad always smoked Captain Black White. This is the stuff I grew up around and always loved the smell.

It just fit and seemed natural, so when I turned 19, I bought a MM Cob (because of the price) and a sampler of house blends from Tobacco Lane in Cape Girardeau, MO.

Their house blend called 'Fireside' ended up being my favorite. Come to find out later, it was a 2:1 mix of Lane's 1Q & BCA - they have been making this exact blend for over 20-years now and it's still their best seller of the house blends. So for those of you (us) that thought this mix was relatively new, you (we) were wrong.

The shop owner/operator named Ralph suggested a MM Cob as a first pipe since they smoke great and are very forgiving. Boy was he correct. I still use cobs in my daily rotation.

He told me not to worry about how it looks, but rather how it performs. He told me that if I really get serious about Pipe Smoking, then come back in a month or two and he'll point me toward a good & affordable Briar. And he did, he sold me a Savinelli. I don't remember the name of it, but it was a bent billiard style.

I've always preferred bent stems. Even my first MM Cob had a bent stem. It just seemed so natural to me, and I have always preferred them over straights - although I do have a few straight stem pipes.

Man, doesn't seem like it's been 19 years.. Where has time gone?

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Age : 59
Location : Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA
Registration date : 2011-12-29

PostSubject: Re: What drew you to pipes?   Thu Dec 29, 2011 11:38 am

It's been a long time, but ... I remember liking the look of a pipe in the mouths of Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce in the Sherlock Holmes movies of the `40's. I remember Mark Trail smoking a pipe in the strip in the `60's. Everything associated with pipe smoking spelt serenity and deep thinking. I also liked the smell of the tobaccos in drug stores.
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Location : Ontario Canada
Registration date : 2011-11-12

PostSubject: Re: What drew you to pipes?   Thu Dec 29, 2011 11:56 am

A friend of mine smoked a pipe and a fella online sent me a couple of pipes and tobacco after discussing theology...I forget how it came up. I didn't plan on smoking it but as someone else said above, I was born a century too late and pipes have an old world appeal. I had the pipes and tobacco for a month before I decided to take a cob along with me while I walked my dog. It was a beautiful day so we sat on a bank of a creek and I enjoyed my first bowl. Now I smoke a bowl once a week or more often if I'm drinking with friends.
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Richard Burley


Location : North Coast NY
Registration date : 2011-04-09

PostSubject: Re: What drew you to pipes?   Thu Dec 29, 2011 1:04 pm

It was love at first sniff. I was a toddler who begged my uncles to light up. Been puffing since age 16, the earliest I could get away with it without being slapped around and sent to an orphanage.
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PostSubject: Re: What drew you to pipes?   Fri Dec 30, 2011 12:02 am

Pipes did.

What a Face
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Registration date : 2011-03-17

PostSubject: Re: What drew you to pipes?   Fri Dec 30, 2011 1:46 am

Crack and meth. Oh sorry... this must be about those other pipes? Umm... yeah, I had a dream in which God told me that I needed a second hobby. So... I started smoking pipes.
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Age : 50
Location : central Florida
Registration date : 2011-07-19

PostSubject: Re: What drew you to pipes?   Fri Dec 30, 2011 11:58 am

Grampa..whom I miss very much and whom I wish I could've spoken to man to man..but he left to soon.

My mother told me he smoked SWR and PA so I will always have some on hand and I always smoke one of those first in every "new to me" pipe I get. Matter of fact, some PA in my Great Dane sounds good right now..thanks for the great subject and all the great stories.
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Age : 36
Location : Painesville, OH
Registration date : 2011-12-19

PostSubject: Re: What drew you to pipes?   Fri Dec 30, 2011 12:55 pm

I wish I could say that I had a grandfather or father who smoked a pipe (dad smoked/smokes cigs, but that hardly counts) or some other adult figure who led me to the hobby...to be 100% honest, I started smoking the pipe as a joke.

In college, there was a group of guys who smoked cigars outside of our dorm room in the evening. This wouldn't have been a problem (cigars can be wonderful and their smokers can be fine folks), except they were the "we're in college and awesome because we smoke cigars, so we'll stand where we get the most attention just to show off our total badassery" kind of cigar smokers. So, some of us thought it would be amusing to smoke pipes and act very "proper" right next to them. A friend had a bunch of his grandfathers old pipes, we each grabbed one and had some fun with it for a week or so (typing this for an unfamiliar audience, this seems entirely pathetic...I guess you had to be there).

At any rate, even though we were making a joke about it and no idea what we were doing, it was fantastic. Really, really fantastic. And it stuck...at least the idea of it did. We had to return the pipes, and I wasn't about to run out and spend money on something as outdated as pipes and pipe tobacco - after all, what early 20-something smokes a pipe, for cryin' out loud?!?! Still, I couldn't get it out of my head.

Two years later, still in college and having developed a bit of a taste for cigars, a fellow student and cigar smoker revealed that he also enjoyed a pipe every now and again. We'd planned to have a cigar one evening, but he brought along an extra pipe just in case I'd like to give it a try, this time "for real." I did, and was hooked. The next day I was at a local tobacco shop in the Columbus area buying a pipe and three small samples of tobacco.

The rest, as they say, is history. Very Happy
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Age : 32
Location : Oxfordshire, UK
Registration date : 2011-12-28

PostSubject: Re: What drew you to pipes?   Fri Dec 30, 2011 3:54 pm

Sadly I had no relatives that could have led me down this wonderful and contemplative path.

The first pipe that I ever bought was part of an outfit that I was creating for a gothic dinner party that I was hosting. I had smoked cigs before but not on a regular basis, and after the part I thought why not give the pipe ago? I ordered a couple of samples online and set out to try them. Now the pipe that I bought was a very cheap no name pipe and I did not get on with it at all. Over the next week or so I told a work friend of mine about trying the pipe, and she told me her grandad used t smoke one. The next day she came in with a pipe for me, it was a cheap Bull brand pipe but it was much better than what I had initially bought. I as able to smoke that pipe and I enjoyed it so much mire because i was able to smoke it. Since that day I have never looked back, and have even gone on to purchase a church warden pipe.

I think also my love has to do with the revival of 'gentlemanly' traits from a bygone era. It seems things were so much more simple back then and the experience of life was passed on.
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Age : 44
Location : Sunnyvale, CA
Registration date : 2011-10-04

PostSubject: Re: What drew you to pipes?   Thu Jan 05, 2012 4:01 pm

So many great stories. When I was in high school I went with a friend whose father was a meerschaum collector to buy a pipe and some tobacco. Since I had no reference for pipe smoking (grew up without television/old movies/smoking family members), I had to stumble before it got worked out. Since I like the solitude of pipe smoking it really connected with me. It took over 18 years until I found online forums like this and improved my technique and branched out to new tobaccos (I was lucky to have a decent tobacconist so the house blends were decent).
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Age : 30
Location : South Carolina
Registration date : 2010-08-14

PostSubject: Re: What drew you to pipes?   Thu Jan 05, 2012 5:56 pm

From the time I was very young, I have always been fascinated by pipes. My Grandfather is a retired Navy Commander and his study was filled with awesome Nautical themed paintings and decorations. I would spend hours in that room looking at all of his stuff. On his desk was a round pipe rack with a jar in the middle filled with PA. I must have gotten in trouble at least 100 times for taking one of the pipes and walking around with it in my mouth... I seem to recall even breaking one of the pipe's stem at some point. Good thing my Grandfather loved me! I also opened the jar and stuck my nose in for a big whiff of PA at least once a day... Then as a teen I began smoking cigs because being underage and finding places to buy cigs was quite easy. As soon as I turned 18 I went to a local shop here in San Diego (Racine & Laramie) and bought my first pipe and a few different house blends. I have now been smoking pipes for almost 6 years... My pipes have gotten me through some difficult times and shared some wonderful times with me as well.
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Age : 38
Location : Warren, PA
Registration date : 2011-03-21

PostSubject: Re: What drew you to pipes?   Fri Jan 06, 2012 11:07 pm

I've been a cigar smoker for a while, and it wasn't until I really started to enjoy cigars - and, by default, tobacco - that I started looking into pipes. I spent a LOT of time reading about it, and after reading so many amazing reviews and realizing how this side of the leaf is so different from the side I was used to, I had to jump in feet first without a helmet, goggles or a snorkle.

Needless to say, I love it. It's become nearly a daily thing for me, and cigars have turned into a change-of-pace "treat" for me.
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Age : 32
Location : Nairobi, Kenya
Registration date : 2011-09-24

PostSubject: Re: What drew you to pipes?   Sat Jan 07, 2012 3:06 am

I smoked cigarettes for about five years in my youth (14-19). Through that time, I witnessed my grandfather diagnosed with lung cancer and die shortly after. I remember feeding him while he lay in bed during his final days. He had smoked pipes earlier in his life and started to chew instead (Red Man). He chewed quite a bit. Alas, I kicked the habit after having to go through such.

I was twenty-three when I began to explore the pipe world. I had always had fond memories of my grandfather and his pipe. I was real young when he switched from the pipe to chew; however, I still remembered a certain pipe I had found in his lower drawer during those days. To this day, I have not been able to find that pipe. I believe one of my uncles took it as a memento. 'Tis a shame really seeing as I smoke pipes now. In any case, those fond memories truly were the reason I began to explore the hobby. After I started to get serious, as in actually buying pipes and tobacco, my mother gave me a pipe that just so happened to be my grandfather's. It was not the one I remember, but it's special nonetheless. I still have yet to restore it (it needs a lot of work), but it is an old St. Claude pipe from France. Though originally the fondness of memory regarding my grandfather was the reason behind my interest, I have come to love the hobby and greatly wish I could smoke a pipe with my grandfather. More than anything though, I wish I would have been better to him.
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