It's been a long time since I had to travel for MEDITECH, the company for which I work. I've been with them for more than fifteen years. During my first eight on nine years I must have flown almost every week or every other week. And each time I traveled, no matter the destination, I always sought out the tobacconists in the area. If it was Phoenix, AZ, I found the local tobacconist, where I got my Old Boy lighter. In Pueblo, Colorado...there was a cigar shop (That's a story I've told many times before.) Cody, Wyoming, New Oleans, Luisiana, Amarillo, Texas (an oversize meerschaum of the head of Jesus...No, I didn't. It wasn't for sale.) I won't even start with my visits on business to London, Scotland and Ireland, and the tobacco induced treasures I found there. Each of these stops, and countless others brought me the reward of travel.I got to meet and greet others with the same interest, seeking the same pleasures of the briar.
Recently the opportunities to travel for the company have been limited.
Right after 9/11 it was decided to seek other non-traveling avenues to
train the sites. And from my vantage point, that was OK. Yes, I missed
the interesting folks and the enticing adventures seeking out pipes in
flea market 'antique' stores, but I got to be home with friends and family
more, and didn't miss any of the Sherlock Holmes Pipe Club meetings. But
just recently, I've had to make a couple of trips for the company. One
was to Myrtle Beach, last year. Yes, there was a tobacconist there, if
you consider the Tinder Box a tobacconist. But my real fun in Georgetown,
SC, was attending a rehearsal of the local theater company's new Broadway
tribute, that was opening in a few
But this August, I was sent to Little Rock, Arkasas. I wasn't really
looking forward to the trip. Temperatures in Arkansas were reaching 103
degrees. The day I landed it was 109, and it wasn't 'dry' either. Worse
than that, the hotel I was staying in was a NON-SMOKING hotel. No smoking
rooms. But they were kind enough to let me smoke out on the patio....in
The next day I was to go to one of the local hospitals to train them.
Even though I was in a non-smoking car..hell, OK, I cheated. I lit my
pipe and smoked on my way to the hospital. It was a five minute drive.
I barely got the Comoy going with my Condor when I had to set it down
and park the car. See you at lunch, pipe. The morning training went well
and soon enough the lunch hour was upon us. I called the break, and suddenly
lunch boxes appeared. One for every one of the attendees, and for the
presenter...me. How lucky can I get? My pipe is patiently waiting for
me out in the car in 100 degree heat. I wondered if it would start to
smoke all by iteself. Oh well,
I really didn't know what to expect. I pulled into a strip mall and looked
for the Pipe and Tobacco Shop. When I spotted it, I knew it was going
to be the perfect shop for me. How? It's logo. It's the same image I use
on my Ex Libris stickers for my library. It had to be perfect. I walked
Then Matt and I introduced ourselves to the owner, and he intern introduced us to the six smokers at the table. One of them, Eric, (yes, another Eric) had worked for Lane Limited, in his youth, and had also done some staining of pipes that were either for Dunhill or Charatan. We spoke a great deal, and he reminisced about his days going to Las Vegas for the big smoke show and meeting with so many of the now famous pipe makers, including the Savinellis and Brebbia families. I'm going to keep in touch with him.
After a wonderful two hours of conversation and smoking, Matt and I excused ourselves and headed back to finish up the day working at the hotel, answering emails, etc. I will forever remember this trip.
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