THAT EXTRA PIPE
By Bob Taylor
(as it appeared in NASPC's The Pipe Collector August 2006)
How many times have you been traveling and just had to have a new pipe because you only brought one or two? As we used to say in Texas, "Fess Up." Several times, right?
If you are like me, some of those urges have resulted in some fantastic smokes.
One that comes to mind was stopping at a service station outside Vancouver, WA and seeing a discount tobacco store next to the grocery/gas station. Well with tobacco smoke one of the deadly sins in Washington and stores few and far between, I had to park the car and go in to see what they had. It wasn't a large store but it had a few pipes and some bulk and packaged pipe tobacco, lots of cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco. The first thing I noticed was about 6-8 aluminum tobacco tins with the green UPtown's Smoke Shop label on them that looked vintage Baskerville Hound, Sir Rupert, Monticello. I picked up what I could afford at the time and moved over to the pipe case.
There wasn't much of a selection but among the dozen or so briars in the case was a natural Calabresi billiard with no fills, a small fault in the right side of the bowl and nick in the left. What's the price? $15? I'll take it!
On down the road I stuffed it with Fort Knox blend from a Portland pipe shop and it was love at first puff. What a fine pipe for the money! And, don't forget the tobacco I found and stored away for special times when I feel like trying a new leaf. I might add that the store only had about two UPtown tins left waiting for me when it closed a few months later another victim of the smoking ban or just plain bad economics.
I still wonder when the UPtown blends were tinned. I've looked them over carefully but can't decipher any dates on them. Someday I'll contact the Nashville retailer and see if anyone there remembers or maybe a reader of this story will enlighten me.
Anyway, another such event happened on a trip to Philadelphia, PA. I was fortunate enough to only be 5-6 blocks from Holt's Cigar Company and in the next few days I spent several half hours looking and relooking at its pipes, tobaccos and accessories. Window shopping its glass cases and talking with its amiable sales personnel was great fun...but back to the point. On my first visit I noticed a basket of pipes. Peterson's St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 2002 pipes! Since I only had two pipes with me on the trip, I "needed" one and at $39 it was such a deal! A nice billiard with silver band and saddle bit, not P-lip, cried out to me and I bought some tins of tobacco to try out in it. I was not disappointed. It smoked great from the first bowl and does so to this day.
I know. We don't always find great buys like those or fine smokers, but isn't it fun to keep trying?