If you are like me, and especially those of you who have been smoking for many decades (yes, like me), you probably have some pipes in your collection that have very special meaning. Some of them may not smoke very well, others may smoke brilliantly, and others may never have been smoked but you keep them due to their sentimental value. I have such a collection myself. Pipes that have special meaning and every time I light one of them up I sit back recall memories of how I got the pipe and / or memories of the person that gave the pipe to me. I hope you don’t mind if I take a nostalgic ride back in time and share some photos of my sentimental favorites and the history behind them.
First up is this handsome Ferndown Two Star Bark that was presented to me by the Board of Trustees of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame during the museum’s annual Induction Banquet in February of 2014, which occurred just a month before my retirement. When told a few months prior to the banquet that the Board and staff wanted to gift me a pipe, I said I’d like to have a Ferndown simply because I had never owned one. So, for my 17-years of service as Director and CEO of the organization, my wish finally came true! I retired on March 1, 2014. And every year on March 1st, my first pipe of the day is that Ferndown and I do not smoke it at any other time of the year. So this coming March, I will be firing it up for only the 6th time.
This Lovat shaped Steve Liskey tan blast is a one of a kind. If you’ll note in the second photo, there is a blue circle as part of Liskey’s nomenclature. It is the color the American Cancer Society uses to denote Colon Cancer. I had a year long battle with that disease in 2012 and once I was pronounced cancer free (thanks to the grace of God), my good friend Chris Garlasco and his lovely wife Sora, pipe smokers themselves, presented me with this handsome pipe to celebrate my having beaten Colon Cancer. And I sure am glad that I’m still around to smoke it! I thanked Steve Liskey for making such a wonderful pipe that I’ll always cherish the next time I saw him.
This next pipe is sort of a bragging pipe. Every time I go to a pipe show that has a Slow Smoking Contest, I enter to support the show and to have fun. I always finished at the bottom of the pack. A slow smoker, I am not. But, in 2007 at the Greater Kansas City Pipe Show, all contestants were presented with these eight panel brandy shaped pipes made by Genod. Once the contest began I immediately noticed that I had a piece of tobacco stuck in the shank. As many of you know, pipe cleaner use is not allowed in slow smoking contests. So I had to suck like a Hoover vacuum just to keep smoke coming up through the bowl, shank and stem. I kept up that urgent puffing for one hour and seven minutes and finally was declared the winner when the last competitor’s pipe went out. Thanks to that tobacco that was stuck up in the shank, I had won my first (and unfortunately, last) Slow Smoking Contest.
This early 1990’s Tonino Jacono billiard is the first hand made pipe that I ever owned. I purchased it sight unseen from the McCranie’s pipe shop in North Carolina. I had read an article about McCranie’s in Pipes & Tobaccos Magazine, and in it were photos of other Jacono pipes. I thought they were beautiful. So I called Trent McCranie on the phone and told him I wanted a billiard and I didn’t care what it looked like but did want one that was about a group-4 in size. This is the pipe Trent sent to me and I immediately fell in love with it. And smoking a hand made pipe with perfect engineering and exceptional wood enhanced the entire smoking experience for me to a new level. Every tobacco I smoked just flat tasted more lively. Yes, I have been smoking hand made pipes only ever since and every time I light up this Jacono – which is still frequently after more than a quarter-century, I get a great smoke!
I have a now deceased uncle by the name of Porter Loring. He was one of the USA’s foremost authorities on Castello pipes back in the 1970’s and 1980’s. He attended all the pipe shows and displayed his beautiful Castello pipes at all of them. Most were fascinated because Castello was not importing pipes to the USA in the 1970’s through any dealers, and the Castello pipes that my uncle displayed were often the first Castello’s that American collectors had ever seen. Remember, there was no Internet back then and mailers were all in black and white (as well as few and far between). Uncle Porter never smoked any of his Castello’s but smoked Don Carlos pipes incessantly. He gifted me one of his prior to his death and I think fondly of him every time I light this one up.
This next pipe is, to me, the most handsome pipe that I own. It is an old Larsen “Straight Grain” stamped pipe. Note how the straight grain around the bowl goes up into the sandblast. Remarkable! Many years ago one of my local pipe club members, a brain surgeon by the name of Marcial Lewin, had toured the Larsen Pipe Shop in Denmark, and came back with this pipe which he presented to me for no reason other than friendship. Dr. Lewin is still a very active member of our club and I do think of him fondly every time I light this beauty up. And yes, it smokes as good as it looks!
Speaking of our pipe club, it is called the Bud Price Pipe Club of Central Texas and we’ve been in operation since 1999. Bud Price co-founded the club with me and unfortunately, he passed away back in 2009. Shortly thereafter, we renamed our club after him. Prior to his death, Bud had gifted me this 1940’s era pipe that was made by Mission Briar, which was a brand created during WW II. In 1941, due to the difficulty of importing briar, Kaufman Brothers & Bondy (KBB), through Kaywoodie, started making pipes out of Manzanita wood, known as “mission briar”. This is one of those pipes. So, it is a war era historical piece. I have never smoked it but remember my good friend Bud Price every time I pull it from my rack just to look at.
The photo here does not do justice to the perfect ring grain around the bowl of this Perry White “Robert Rose” pipe that was made by decades long well known pipe maker Bob Swanson. At the year 2016 West Coast Pipe Show, Bob and show administrator Steve McNiel presented me with this pipe as a token of thanks for my various contributions over the years to that show. I was overwhelmed by their generosity and I light up this big beauty often as it reminds me of those two generous friends – and, it just flat smokes great, too!
I’m sure many of you remember Tony Soderman. His eBay handle was “Mr. Can,” and he was about the most knowledgeable pipe collector I ever met. He was a fixture at most pipe shows for more than 20-years and always had multiple vendor tables where he displayed his fabulous collection of long shank pipes from major old brands such as Barling’s, Charatan, Dunhill, Ashton, etc. Tony passed away at too young an age a few years ago after a battle with Pancreatic cancer. Prior to his death he sent me this Prince shaped pipe that he had found on eBay. He said when he saw it the pipe immediately reminded him of me. After seeing the nomenclature, I bet you can guess why. And maybe because of the name it smokes great!
And finally, I just have to show you this pipe. It’s a bald grained pipe with several fills and called a Duca Barla. Back in 1998 when I was dating my wife, she quickly discovered that I was a pipe smoker. Wanting to give me something nice for Christmas that fit the hobby, but having no clue about pipes, she went to the local tobacco shop and pulled this one out of a basket. She also purchased a pouch of a gooey aromatic to go along with the pipe. She then wrapped the gift nicely and presented it to me on Christmas day. It was at that point that I knew I wanted to marry that gal! I loaded the pipe with the very moist aromatic and lit ‘er up. Folks, Hell itself could not have burned hotter! I gutted my way through that smoke and have not used this pipe since. Please don’t tell my wife!