Pipe Remembrances

Squashed Tomato Pipe by RigolettoJust as smells so easily evoke memories of people, places and things, pipes can have an attachment for the smoker, and for different reasons. Many years ago, I had a Bari squashed tomato that had a stem that fit my bite so perfectly well that I abused the hell out of it, building up a cake in a month (most of the time, because of frequently rotating my pipes, it takes me three to six months to do it). I loved that pipe, which I misplaced during a move, and I was never able to find a similar replacement. I miss it to this day.

Pickaxe pipe by KriswillIn the seventies, Kriswill made a pipe called the Navigator, which was a thin-walled pick axe with a half-bend and a pencil-thin shank and stem. I bought one on my honeymoon in 1978 and it became a favorite very quickly. It was so light that I could keep it in my mouth all day. The unfortunate aspect of lightweight pipes is that they tend to break easily. That happened to mine about five years after I got it, and it broke where the shank meets the bowl- no way to repair it.

About six years ago, I was at the Newark Pipe Show, and walked past a table with a pile of estate pipes when something made me stop short. There was a smooth finished Navigator, in nice shape, with the original stem…for $10. Needless to say, the bill almost caught fire because I pulled it out of my wallet that fast. So, of course, I dropped it a few weeks later and broke the shank in exactly the same place. Three years after that, I found another one in a brown sandblast finish, again for $10, and I bought it. It now resides in an anti-gravity magnetic containment field surrounded by a force field, but I’m sure that I will find a way to break it anyway.

smooth finished briars with meerschaum liningsProbably, though, my favorite memory is of a pipe I still have. During the late seventies, I was the assistant manager of two stores owned by a chain of tobacco shops. I wanted to expand my rotation, so I was always looking for bargain pipes that I could buy with my discount to fit my budget. One day we received a shipment of pipes that looked okay and were fairly priced. They were smooth finished briars with meerschaum linings and noticeable fills, but I decided to buy a Canadian from that shipment. The first thing was that the bit was amazingly thin and comfortable. I loaded it and lit it up and was amazed at how dry and cool it smoked. I have owned this pipe for around 35 years and it has never, I repeat, never had a bad smoke from it.

If you’ve been a pipe smoker for any length of time, you probably have a similar story. Join in and leave your tale in the comments section to share with everyone. Thanks.

About Russ

Russ Ouellette is the blender/creator of the Hearth & Home series of tobaccos for www.pipesandcigars.com in Bethlehem, PA. He has been a pipe smoker and blender for over 30 years, and enjoys feedback from the pipe smoking public. You can reach Russ at russo@pipesandcigars.com or by calling 1-800-494-9144.