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WRITE TEAM: Cigar boxes — may they never fade away

Lynnette Johnson
Lynnette Johnson

Not a popular topic among many but I come at it from a different angle, so please bear with me. I have been a collector of tobacco-related products for many years, though cigarette packaging never interested me in the least.

I was visually drawn to cigar boxes, tobacco tins and such due to their vivid graphics and variety of styles. Many of the containers were works of art in my estimation. Boxes and tins can be used as containers for other collections: buttons, marbles, notions of all sorts, fishing lures, old letters and photographs. Who wouldn’t rather store items in a cigar box than something plastic anyway!

Yes, some cigars can be aromatically offensive, but my belief is they are the really cheap ones. Growing up, there were smokers in my family. My grandpa smoked a pipe, favoring a calabash with a meerschaum bowl that had a cover to keep the wind from blowing it out. He dipped or chewed plug tobacco at times as well, but my main remembrance is of him with his ever-present pipe.

The sweet aroma of pipe tobacco was always very pleasant to me. And, the ritual of preparation to a pipe smoker is fascinating to watch. There is a method involved in lighting up a cigar but even more so of a pipe. I contend a pipe smoker must be patient by nature, and truly enjoys the process. A pipe smoker always seems calm, and at peace with himself. He seems to be contemplating life. My father made a transition in tobacco use over the years, beginning with snuff, the telltale ring on the back pocket of his work pants or his work shirt, a sure sign of a Copenhagen tin. Then he moved on to a pipe and his tobacco came in a drawstring bag or a red Velvet tin.

I can see him now sitting in his favorite chair for an evening reading the newspaper and contentedly smoking his pipe. He loved an occasional cigar, especially when someone presented him with one when there was something to celebrate. We have come a long way in our knowledge of the hazards of smoking in general and all know someone who is trying hard to quit a cigarette habit. Who knew they could be so addicting, doggonit!

Thankfully, I have never smoked, nor my husband nor my children. If you have followed my columns, you know I am often nostalgic in the topics I write about. I’m probably an old soul at heart so collecting items I remember from my childhood comes naturally to me. I don’t dwell on the past but savor remembering as much detail as I can.

The old saying that they don’t make things like they used to give me pause. Think about this: what have you purchased in recent years that you think will be treasured by someone after you are long gone other than an item you possibly made with your own hands? I guess you know what my answer would be!

LYNNETTE JOHNSON has lived out of state for more than 20 years, but returned home two years ago, settling with her husband in beautiful Marseilles. She can be reached by emailing

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