Smoke, Smoke, Smoke that Cigarette

      Daddy smoked Camel Cigarettes when I was a kid.  Men smoked and Real Men smoked Camels, not one of those sissified menthol filtered brands.  Only trashy women smoked.  Mother did have one lady friend who smoked, but Miss Frannie also wore shorts and didn’t go to church.  I thought there had to be some relationship between those three big sins, but loved going to Miss Frannie’s house, so I hoped Mother continued to overlook her failings.  Miss Frannie’s husband hunted with Daddy, so the families’ friendship held fast.

    It was manly to smoke, but like drinking coffee, it was a pleasure delayed till adulthood.  I hated it when Daddy smoked, especially in the car.  We’d all be packed in tight in the backseat and as soon as he backed out, Daddy lit that cigarette.  The smoke burned my eyes and made my throat sore.  It wasn’t so bad in summer with the windows down, but in winter, we were trapped.  Daddy opened his side window vent, so in theory, the smoke didn’t stay in.  The actuality was that we all breathed second-hand smoke the whole trip.

            My smoking experience lasted two puffs.  Daddy told me to toss his cigarette in the toilet, and I took two brief puffs as I walked toward the bathroom. I did enjoy the sizzle as the cigarette hit the water, though. My cousin said he smelled smoke on me and I never tried it again.  Something about putting fire in my mouth never appealed to me.  It held about as much appeal as poking a stick in my eye.

            Daddy started smoking at fourteen or fifteen and often said he wished he’d never started, but never tried to quit.  My brother Billy and a cousin swiped some of Daddy’s cigarettes and gave smoking a whirl.  They hid in a ditch and were smoking away when a neighbor kid came by and ratted them out.  Daddy gave them a lesson in smoking, something that would get him jailed now.  He invited them come sit and smoke with him.  They were in high spirits and joined him happily.  He insisted they inhale so they’d get the full effect.  They were sick long before they’d gotten through that first cigarette, wanting to quit.

He reminded them they’d wanted to smoke and insisted they continue.  In just minutes they were drooling and starting to vomit.  Making them take a few more puffs, they had to endure a lecture on smoking, with a reminder to check back with him next time they wanted a cigarette, he’d be glad to smoke with them.  They both held off for a while, but eventually found their way back to smoking.  Thankfully, my brother quit before long.  My cousin died of tobacco-related disease in his late forties.  Daddy put his cigarettes when he was in his forties.  My mother never smoked a cigarette in her life, but due to living her first thirty-six years with heavy smokers, has a moderate degree of lung disease today.

I hesitated to write this story, but it illustrates well how things were handled in the past.  I’m sure in later life, Daddy would have never done this, but in his thirties, he still had a lot to learn about life, as we all do.


25 thoughts on “Smoke, Smoke, Smoke that Cigarette

  1. Your dad wasn’t alone in his tactics, I’ve heard this story more than once. It actually makes sense to me but I’m from that tough era when people told their kids that they were going to “knock the snot” out of them. It was usually just bold talk that would never be acceptable today. My mother has a picture of me at about 6 smoking a cigarette with my dad. It goes under the “What was he thinking category.”


  2. Interesting. My much-loved grandmother smoked until her death of old age and refused to believe it did any harm. Luckily my parents gave up when we were young. My father told my brothers it was smoking or sports – they could only choose one (all three chose sports). I tried some moss in newspaper at age 11ish and that was enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My older brother while in high school, thought it would be cool to save lunch money and buy a pack of Winstons instead. It wasn’t so cool when father smelled cigarette smoke in the outhouse. He whipped him, me and my other brother, for not telling on him.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I understand how much you hated the smoke in the car. So did I. My mother used to smoke on occasion to lose weight…or that’s what folks believed at the time. Dad smoked Tareyton…he would send us to the corner grocer to buy them for him. (Times were different).

    I tried it once at the kitchen table with him. I turned green. It worked…never touched one again. All of the other 5 sibs smoked at some point in life.

    Liked by 2 people

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