SHPC Visits Kaywoodie Factory &
The Hudson Valley Pipe Club
for Holiday Celebration
December 13th, 2003 - Peekskill, NY

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Story written by Andy Camire

The day started off leaving Hubbardston, MA the Central Massachusetts location of "Man's World" and residence of Jay (Gavel) Beard. The two of us took our leisurely drive to Vernon, CT where we always stop at the great Rein's NY Deli for breakfast, and then onward to Peekskill NY the home of S.M. Frank Co. maker of Kaywoodie, YelloBole, and Medico pipes. We arrived around 1:30 pm. and Bill Fuerbach, VP of S.M. Frank Co. greeted us with a smile and a smoke. It was my first visit to the factory, and must admit it was a super experience to view the displays in the office area that go back to the late 1800's and the KB&B days. Bill had a superb collection in showcases on the floor; walls covered with some old prototype Kaywoodie pipes, along with many other brands that the company manufactured in years past. It was a history lesson on the brands we all enjoy today and Bill also had a terrific display of recently made HandMade high grade Kaywoodies for viewing or purchasing. Along with Bill Fuerbach, noted funny man and pipe crafter extraordinaire was Paul Bonaquisti. You know that the day is going to be spectacular when you match those two guys together in one room. LOOK OUT!!!! Altogether I believe there were about 20 people in attendance. After enjoying some fine hors d'eouvres. We all lit our pipes, filled the room with fragrant aromas of latakia perique, burley, Turkish, Virginia, and many other delectable
fragrances of fine leaf. Bill then gave us a tour of the old factory where over 75,000 pipes are made each year. Which is quite a small amount to the years of peak pipe making (tongue twister) when as many as a million pipes were made every year during the 1950's!! The pipe making room itself is quite small in size compared to their warehouse, shipping, and filter making room. The machinery is very antiquated, well used, covered in briar dust and chips, and performs every step that these professional pipemakers have to use to complete a finished pipe. The buffing wheels were most amazing to me; I had never seen such large flannel wheels before. The stamping machine that is used to put the nomenclature on each pipe was a unique piece of machinery in its own right. A special fixture was made by their toolmaker that will cradle each pipe by the shank and hold it steady for stamping. The Yankee ingenuity can clearly be seen in many of their fixtures and set-ups for working on pipes. In addition to their pipe making facility, there is a very large area of the factory where they manufacture pipe filters also. This was as interesting as the pipe making area. These machines take the raw filter material from large flat spools of paper, bend it, weave it, twist it, puncture it, and it emerges as a round filter, a bit smaller in size than a cigarette, and then they are boxed and sealed ready to ship to the customer. They manufacture these filters by the millions. Amazing to see the production, when Bill started one of the machines to show us the procedure. After the tour, we settled in to our instructions for the Pipe Smoking Contest. Bill Fuerbach provided everyone with a brand new Sandblasted Kaywoodie pipe for the competition. Rob Denholtz, who was the master of ceremonies for this event and also the timekeeper, had the job of making sure all rules were strictly adhered to. There were 19 contestants, and the room was a cloud of smoke. The second hand smoke was delicious, even though it wasn't my favorite blend!! Only if the Politically Correct (aka extremists) could have seen us. Well the festivities continued until we had a winner with Rob Garbarino. I couldn't tell you the winning time, but Rob Denholtz has listed each contestant and time of elimination. The contest was considered quite seriously by most, as the winner will have his/her name inscribed on the annual plaque which adorns the Hudson Valley Pipe Club Trophy. Yes, we did have one female contestant, who did a very admirable job of competing for the first time. I think she's hooked now. Must've been the addictive substance that we added to the tobacco. The only mishap in the contest happened to Paul Pipemaster Bonaquisti who was DISQUALIFIED for reasons within his control. Then he commenced to say, "I can't believe I wasted 48 minutes of my life competing in a pipesmoking contest". Hee, hee, hee. We were beyond words and our stomachs hurt from laughter. After the pipesmoking contest we were immersed in a banquet of most scrumptious delicacies as Chicken Marsala, Italian Meat Balls, Rigatoni, Lasagna, Crusty Hard bread, crisp tossed salad and concluded with some incredible sweet desserts made by some of the attendees; desserts included NY Cheesecake, homemade Bourbon Street Pecan Pie, with whipped cream (which Jay Beard tried to apply to Rob Denholtz unaware as the photo's will show). The generous members of the Hudson Valley Pipe Club held a very special raffle with proceeds to benefit the widow of recently departed friend Hal Silverstein; some fantastic prizes, first place being a smooth Bonaquisti Lovat with Sterling Silver Band, a fine Bottle of Talisker Single Malt Scotch, an excellent Stanwell sandblast finish pipe, some fine tinned tobacco and other great prizes were awarded to the lucky winners. They raised a substantial sum to the delight of all. As far as pipes for sale or trade, there was no shortage in that department. Attending with his masterpieces was Rolando Negoita (also known for his knife making skills and superb silver and goldsmithing; Joe Skoda with some amazing new designs of his own hand, Rob Denholtz of Fine Olde Briars with many estate pipes, Paul Bonaquisti with a table full of newly crafted treasures and some fine estate pipes as well. It was really great to see Bruce Harris attend, the great Marxman Collector and gentleman extraordinaire. Rob DiStasio was there in full regalia; ready for this winter's hunt in the North Country, where I'm sure he'll be smoking some of his fine briars in the wilderness. David Ruth, last year's winner of the HVPC smoking contest was also in attendance, as was Howie Rothstein who had many treasures to display, including a Trevor Talbert Halloween pipe, which was a true museum piece. The Boston Connnection had 5 members travel to Peekskill which included yours truly, who was sporting a Kaywoodie Straight Grain Bulldog with a Rock Ambera stem; Jay Beard (who displayed his auctioneering skills), and also adorned the factory with all the NO SMOKING SIGNS!!!! To the laughter of all in attendance. Rick Frederics, Treasurer of SHPC; Ted Blank, with the everlasting smile, and Tim Hynick, totally engrossed in the pipe manufacturing process which he enjoys practicing himself. As the hour of eleven struck the clock, and after helping Bill and Paul to tidy up the office area of our debris and pounds of dottle, Jay and I decided it was time to depart for the evening. We were to stop at Rein's Deli in Vernon CT on the return trip to get our Bialys and Bagels for the next morning breakfast. It didn't happen. Jay snoozed for about two hours, snored hard enough to drown out the noise of my diesel engine, and we got to Rein's beyond their midnight closing time. Oh well, next time. Finally, after exiting route 84 South and driving 30 miles of wilderness roads to Hubbardson MA Jay was awake and ready to get a more comfortable night's rest in his own bed. I still had another 35 to 40 minutes and finally arrived back at the Plastic City (Leominster MA) at 2 a.m. The day just flew by, now memories to forever last of good times, great friends, fine tobacco, superb food, and Bill's great hospitality. Bill, on behalf of all of us from the Sherlock Holmes Pipe Club, I wish to Thank You for the invitation to join the Hudson Valley Pipe Club Christmas extravaganza; it was a blast. Yours Truly, Andy Camire Click here for more pics from the day contributed by Andy Camire and Rick Frederics Thanks Guys!

Click here for more pics from the day
contributed by Andy Camire and Rick Frederics

Thanks Guys!

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