The March 2004 New York Pipe Show
is the Kentucky Derby of Rich Esserman's annual Triple Crown of
pipes shows and took place this year on March 12 & 13 at the Ramada
Inn at the beautiful Newark Airport. The Sherlock Holmes Pipe Club
of Boston had a strong showing at this event with 11 members present,
many of which were clad in their colors of green and tan. But although
these shows have been running for many years it was this pipesmoker's
first show and I was a bit anxious to get started. They had no trouble
getting me in the gate but when the bell rang I got off to a slow
Taking advantage of the Friday night
pre-show viewing, another newcomer
Dock "Junior" Perry took an early lead and gained substantial ground
throughout the day Saturday. Also out in front but a length or two
behind "Junior" were Dick "The
Pusher" Morse, Eric "Eveready" Kahn and Dr. Bob "Grabow" Kiess all
vying for second. But with his acquisition of an oversized Ardor
poker and a Walt Cannoy 3D candledrip, "The Pusher" edged ahead
and for a time securing sole possession of second place. The favorite
Steve" Mass Consumer" Gutz had fallen back a bit to find himself
in an uncharacteristic
fifth place. Further back in the pack and carefully planning their
move were Tim "Timid" Hynick and Rick "Abacus" Fredericks but all
I could see of them was their tobacco smoke. About a length ahead
of me was Ted "Sea Foam" Blank and Andy "Doc Watson" Camire. Steve
"The Suit" Wyman flew by on my right side but I lost sight of him
from that point on.
was so entranced by this strange new arena that I could barely keep
to a slow trot. So much was going on, so much to see... but what
to look at first? The crowd was amass with new faces, a few familiar
and a few legends like Teddy
Heeschen and Rolando
Negoita that I'd heard of through stories and on the web, but
they all looked like one big blur to me right now. After a few laps
around the track "Abacus" dropped back and saw my distress. "What
is it," he asked? "I saw a nice Caminetto earlier but now I can't
remember where I saw it." "I was warned about this, why didn't
I listen," I thought to myself. We retraced my tracks but came
up empty. "It must be gone," I finally conceded and watched as he
caught back up with the rest of the pack.
Finally, I overtook "Doc Watson"
for a few furlongs and was able to clear
my head. I began hearing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" playing
in my mind. It was so soothing, but what did it mean? Then
it came to me. I remember hearing it playing from an iPod Friday
night at the Santa
Fe Pipes room. I remembered how welcome and familiar I felt
there and the great selection of pipes Tony and George had to offer.
I started to relax and everything suddenly became clear. Maybe they
were my pot of gold "over the rainbow?" While standing there still
lost in thought, "Doc Watson," after falling back and gaining
some perspective, recaptured his position.
Just then I was hit with a blast
of Hermit's Pink
Champagne that snapped my senses back to full alert like a freshly
cracked smelling salt and I was off and running, down the stretch
and around the bend. Ahhh good... that Savanelli Autograph with
the beautiful strait grain that I had seen the night before was
still there. This must be destiny. I picked it up and felt it's
and admired it's beautiful grain. Instantly we became one (cue
the romantic music). "Is that the one you were looking at last
night?" Tony of Santa Fe Pipes asked. "Yes," I said, "and I'll take
it." I had no sooner handed him the money when I looked down at
his table and there it was... the Caminetto I thought I had lost.
I picked it up and looked it over.... "I'll take this one too."
But the race wasn't over yet. After a couple more laps around the
track I ended up back at Santa Fe where they made me an offer I
couldn't refuse. My final purchase was a Radice Rind, very similar
to one I had been eyeing on the web and hoping to find at the show.
we rounded the final bend the excitement from all this over stimulation
had our adrenaline at full throttle and we found ourselves neck
down the stretch to the finish line and ended with a photo finish
at the wire.
Because after all, when you think about it, we all took home some
pipes. Doesn't that put us all in the Winners Circle?
All fiction aside, the New York
Pipe Show was an extremely enjoyable time for me as I imagine it
was for all who attended. It was great seeing some of our old New
York comrades there like Paul
Bill Feuerbach of Kaywoodie and Rob Denholtz, Jim Murray
and Rob Garibino
from the Hudson Valley Pipe Club. I also had the pleasure
of meeting Jay and Louise from Hermit
Tobacco and it was great getting to know Tony and George from
Santa Fe Pipes (I think they were a tad happy to have met me
as well $$ ). And I can't forget to mention our Master of Ceremonies
Sailorman Jack with his infamous herald, Attention! Attention! We
also had an opportunity to speak with David and Janice of R.D. Field
who we look forward to hosting at our April meeting. We even recruited
one new club member, Alexander "Sandy" Gerli.
One of my favorite tables was the
table with it's
amazing display of exquisitely sculpted
pipes. The craftsmanship and artistic talent that went into the
making of these works of art clearly portraits the passion and dedication
that Bartlomiej Antoniewski has for his craft. As much as I would
have loved to put one of these beautiful pieces on my mantle, today
was just a day to admire them as I did thousands of pipes that day.
Now, aside from a serious lack of
appropriate signage directing you from the highway to the Ramada
Inn, (remember the rotary scene in National Lampoon's European
Vacation.. that's what it felt like) my first visit to the New
York Pipe Show was one I'll always remember. But of all the new
experiences I had at this show, I think the most memorable part
of all was just being surrounded by so many genuinely nice people
that share the same interest as we do.
I look forward to my next visit
to one of the New York Pipe Shows which I hope will be soon, but
right now my sights are set on Richmond and I've already begun hording
my money..... well maybe I should start saving right after RD Field
comes..... then again maybe I should wait until after the Watch
City Cigar visit in June..... I don't think I'm going to have enough
money................ Can anybody lend me a fiver?
THE REST OF THE PICKS FROM THE SHOW