Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Go On and Smoke, Smoke, Smoke that Cigarette...

And now the post that I so rudely cast aside yesterday...

As a tribute to Beth's arrival at the End of the World, I decided to check out some of the many posts that a Gardening Knitter would share with the world. One in particular caught my eye right off the bat.

Those of you that blog a lot know that the most difficult part of any post is coming up with a clever title for the subject that you're about to discuss. There are the gifted among us like KTM, Mr. Schprock, and g_s who always have these clever titles, but I'm always looking at mine and thinking... meh, it could'a been better.

So imagine the pleasant surprise when I came across Beth's post called She's Got Bette Davis Lungs. Of course I had to read it, and I must say, I got quite a kick out of it. I was gonna leave a comment, but I know how often I read the new comments on old posts so I decided not to and do it here instead. Beth, my dear, I'm one of the saintly. Just thought you'd like to know there are a few of us still out there. ;)

In your honor, I'll tell a few stories that always tickled me.

My Grandpa and several Great Uncles smoked. One of these Uncles quit though, and was the epitome of the pious ex-smoker you described, his name was Uncle Fred. His brother, Uncle Herschel, always used to say, "There's nothing more virtuous than an ex whore." which always bugged Uncle Fred to no end. However, Uncle Fred knew that he could never say anything and acknowledge that it bothered him, because then it would just get worse. The flip side of that coin was that Uncle Hersch could always tell that it bugged him so he'd say it at every opportunity when Fred would turn his nose up at smokers.

Well anyway, in 1947, my Grandpa and Uncles Fred and Hersch drove to Portland to buy a ranch. Now in '47 there weren't any interstates, nor really any fast cars. They took their pickup and the three of them started out on the 10 day journey. Uncle Fred's version of the story went something like this:

"Now [my Grandpa] was driving and Hersch was on the passenger side so that he could blow the smoke out the window, so I was stuck in the middle. They never said anything, but I know they'd worked it out ahead of time, whenever one would brush out his cigarrette, the other would light up. Those two bastards chain smoked clear to Portland and back again. I've never been so sick of cigarette smoke in my life."

When I was a boy, my dad would always stop at one of the two local coffee shops when we fed in the morning and get a couple cups of coffee. These are some of my fondest memories because of all the old guys and their stories. They all got to know us and so they'd tell us boys story after story. My dad, of course, had heard all of them dozens of times over his lifetime, so he'd always prime the pump by asking them to tell us "the story about the time when..." Good times.

One of the many was a fellow named Radden. Old Rad looked like he was 150 when I first remember him, but he was probably only 80 or so. Anyway... he was about a 2 pack a day smoker and had been that way for at least 70 years. I think he said he started when he was 15 and his brother was 14 or so. To top that off, he smoked Camel stubbies. Quite possibly the strongest of the cigarette family.

One day when he was about 94 or 95, we were all sitting around the counter and he reached into his front pocket and took out his pack-o-cigs and pulled one out. He stuck it in his mouth and then with hands that trembled from the effects of old age, struck a match and tried to time the flickering match and his shaking hand so they met up with the end of the cig. I could see he was a pro, it didn't take him 2 seconds to fire it up and take the first drag, then blow the match out with the smoke from that first one. He sat there for a minute while he doctored up his cup o joe, then he reached up with the same trembling left hand and snatched the cig from his lips and held it between his fore and middle fingers. He turned his head and looked over at my brother and me and said with a dry seriousness, "They tell me if I quit these things, I'll live longer."

Another time someone was showing off their new chainsaw to Rad and another fellow named Mike who had a liver disease and wasn't long for this world. "This is the best goddamned chainsaw made and it's got a lifetime warranty." Rad looked over at Mike, took the cig out of his mouth and said, "That don't mean a whole helluva lot to you or me, does it."

They're all dead now but the stories will continue for as long as I do.

15 Comments:

Anonymous bc said...

:o) I love the old stories.

6/06/2006 8:29 PM  
Blogger trinamick said...

My grandpa has the best stories like that. My mom always gets irritated because I will intentionally bring up a subject that I know will lead to a particular story. She gets tired of hearing the same things, but I know it will eventually lead to some tale I haven't heard yet.

6/07/2006 9:29 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

Excellent stories, my lord. I might even say "smokin.'"

6/07/2006 10:38 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

I'm not gonna lie, I love Rad. There, it's out there. Loved these stories you told. First you surprise me by mentioning me, then youu make me laugh. It doesn't get better than that. Thank you.

6/07/2006 6:01 PM  
Blogger LL said...

I gots stories aplenty...

Some just aren't fit for mixed company. ;)

6/07/2006 7:01 PM  
Blogger NYPinTA said...

My mother smokes Pall Mall unfiltered. My BIL smokes Marlboro Lights. Wuss.

6/07/2006 8:29 PM  
Blogger LL said...

And just what flavor did you smoke my dear? Hmmmmm?

6/07/2006 9:39 PM  
Blogger NYPinTA said...

I used to smoke regular Marlboro, but I'd bum from my mother when I was out and desperate. Gee, wonder why I quit?

6/09/2006 10:26 PM  
Blogger LL said...

Ok... so you're not THAT big a wimp... :P

6/10/2006 7:54 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

ll, did you ever make a post about explaining the loser thing?

6/10/2006 3:19 PM  
Blogger LL said...

Loser thing? Hmmm... I'm afraid you'll have to expound on your inquiry a bit more, then I'll be able to tell you. If the usual suspects don't chime in first...

6/10/2006 4:53 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Haha. Well, you'll say stuff like, "It's a sad day for the loser." Why do you call yourself a loser? I like to find out how people get nicknames. =)

6/11/2006 7:13 AM  
Blogger LL said...

LL stands for Lord Loser (Hence the address for the blog). I've never posted about it because the unusual suspects already knew what it stood for.

You and Mr. S are the only ones who read this blog (and comment) that didn't know me from another bulletin board that the rest of us used to frequent, so I didn't think it originally necessary.

I never started this blog to develop a following (not my style), I did it because I was memed by PinTA, and then called bad things by JG. ;)

As for the moniker... it'll become painfully obvious after you've known me for a while. :P

6/11/2006 8:59 AM  
Anonymous BC said...

Usual Suspects. LOLOLOL :D

6/11/2006 7:45 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Thanks for explaining, LL! I just had to ask!

6/13/2006 9:15 AM  

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