A Bite of the Big Apple

We’re located in Albany, NY (the state Capital), and I was surprised to hear that there’s actually a city that’s also called New York. They say that it so nice, they named it twice. There’s also a pipe club down there, called, cleverly enough, the New York Pipe Club.

Enough silliness. I’ve had a nice relationship with the NYPC for a while now, and I really enjoy going to one of their meetings. The club started, as most do, with a relatively small group (especially considering that there are 8,000,000+ people in the metropolitan New York area), and its first president was a pipe community icon best known as Sailorman Jack. He had a resonant, stentorian voice, and when it was necessary to rouse the crowd at the New York Pipe Show, Jack would let loose with a booming baritone “Attention, Attention!”, and when he did, everyone stopped and listened. The club has grown in membership and profile over the years, and is half of the duo (with the Seattle Pipe Club) that created the Throwdown challenges that brought a new dimension to the Chicagoland Pipe Show last year, and will do so again this year.

Over the last decade or so, the club has flourished under the guidance of former president Vernon Vig, who went on to found and shepherd the national organization, the United Pipe Clubs of America. After the burden became a little daunting, Vernon turned the helm over to the more-than-capable Lou Carbone. Lou is a very affable gentleman, and is leading the club into a new phase of activity.

For quite a while now, the Club has met at Florio’s Restaurant on Grand Street in the Little Italy section of Manhattan. Around 6 pm, members congregate in the back portion of the restaurant for supper. It was a terrible imposition to ask me to eat Chicken Parmagiana from a well-known eatery in Little Italy, but I took one for team. After I was able to muster the energy to stand up after such a meal, we proceeded to march up to the second floor cigar lounge (yes, we could smoke indoors). Up until a few years ago, the Club could actually smoke in the restaurant, but the anti-smoking lobby in NYC, with Mayor Bloomberg marching in front, put an end to that.

People often have a misconception of the City and its residents. The members of the NYPC have been,to a person, as friendly a group of pipe smokers as I have ever met, and the meetings are convivial and relaxed in atmosphere. In many areas, there’s an arrogance about being a New Yorker because of the cosmopolitan air about the City, but it’s never in evidence with this group.

Why was I down there? Well, I’ve become friendly with the Club ever since being invited down to speak a few years back, and I’ve been down more recently to help a bit with a project that they’ve been interested in for some time. I went down this time to talk with them about the project, and am glad to say that we feel that its time has come, so keep an eye out here on May 5th, or if you’ll be at the Chicagoland Pipe Show on that date, you’ll get to see the culmination of more than two years work, but it’ll be worth it, and hopefully worthy of being identified with New York City.

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.