From Father To Son

Have you ever noticed that fathers pass on more than genes to their sons? In my case, my father was a pipe and an occasional cigar smoker. Many of my fondest and earliest memories of my father are related to smoking pipes and cigars. Without consciously knowing it, he passed on the appreciation of fine tobacco and briar pipes to me at a young age.

My father was a Civil Engineer and spent many hours sitting at a drafting table. I would sit on the floor and play or sometimes sit on his lap while he worked. Little did I know it, the aroma of his pipe would stick in my memory for the rest of my life. Every time I smell a pipe, it brings back fond memories of dad sitting at his drafting table.

In addition to those private moments in his office, we enjoyed many hours of fun outdoors. Dad was a big fan of the outdoor activities. He loved to fish, hike and canoe. He was not the kind of guy to sit idle for any length of time, except if there was a hockey game on TV. He used to kid my mother that he would drive her crazy when he retired.

While on many of these outdoor activities, especially fishing trips, dad would smoke small cigars. He told me it was to keep the bugs away, but I knew better. On several occasions he would let me take a few puffs, and as I grew older, would allow me to smoke one of my own. I remember taking a few puffs on his pipe and little sips from his beer. From fathers to sons….

One fishing trip ended in disaster… for the pipe, not us. Dad was smoking a small GBD while fly-fishing on the Battenkill River in upstate New York. One of his back casts got a little out of control and wrapped around the pipe, and before he knew it, the pipe was pulled from his mouth and was tossed 30 feet downstream. He stood there looking at me with a stunned look, and then we both broke out in laughter. As I remember we did not catch many fish, but had a great time anyway.

My father never actually encouraged me to smoke. If he had, my mother would have been more than a little upset at both of us. Young boys like experimenting, and smoking has always been one of those initial adventures. When he first found out from my mother that I had been smoking cigarettes, I thought that my young life would end at age 14. But he threw me a curve ball. After several days of uneasy expectation, I asked if mom had told him. He said yes, but decided that any punishment that she had dished out was enough. As a boy, he also experimented with cigarettes and felt that it was a “rite of passage”, much like learning to toss a football or riding a bike. From fathers to sons….

Dad passed away on July 17, 1996 from skin cancer. As a young boy on the farm, he spent many long hot summers in the sun. Little did we know then the dangers of being exposed to the sun back in those days. I never had any interest in being a Civil Engineer, but did take after dad in many other ways. I love the outdoors and enjoy a nice bowl of tobacco, a good pipe or cigar while paddling down a quiet mountain stream or hiking. I also learned not to fly fish and smoke a pipe at the same time! From fathers to sons….