Thursday, February 10, 2011

Mount Vernon Tobacco Plantation

"If you can't send money, send tobacco."
~ George Washington to the Continental Congress, 1776

If you are visiting the Washington, D.C. area, all fellow Pipe Smokers should make it a point to take a day trip to Mount Vernon. Mount Vernon is located near Alexandria, Virginia and was the plantation home of the first President of the United States, George Washington. The mansion is built of wood in neoclassical Georgian architectural style, and the estate is located on the banks of the Potomac River. Mount Vernon was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is owned and maintained in trust by The Mount Vernon Ladies' Association and is open every day of the year, including holidays and Christmas.

Mount Vernon has a rich history, but more importantly, I want to emphasis George Washington's tobacco plantation. For more than 40 years, George Washington had embraced the life of a Virginia tobacco planter, producing a significant cash crop for export to England. Although tobacco production was labor intensive, it also required alot of people to cultivate and process the crop. Tobacco needs rich fertile soil, as it is a nutrient dense plant. Unfortunately, Mount Vernon's soil was not rich at all and they were incapable of growing high quality tobacco plants. In the mid-1760's, Washington did not receive sufficient revenue for his tobacco and this caused him to turn towards other crops, such as wheat.

In a letter dated September 20, 1765, Washington writes about receiving poor returns for his tobacco production:

"Can it be otherwise than a little mortifying then to find, that we, who raise none but Sweet scented Tobacco, an endeavor I may venture to add, to be careful in the management of it, however we fail in the execution, and who by a close and fixed correspondence with you, contribute so largely to the dispatch of your Ships in this Country should meet with such unprofitable returns?"

During the 45 years Washington owned Mount Vernon and he expanded the property from 2000 to 8000 acres comprised of five farms. Washington tirelessly sought out new ideas to improve the efficiency and profitability of his plantation. In his late twenties, Washington made a pivotal decision to turn away from the cultivation of tobacco in favor of wheat. Tobacco threatened to waste his lands and left him vulnerable to the British tobacco trade. Wheat enabled him to exercise total control over its distribution and to sell his wheat in markets as far away as the West Indies.

George Washington is often credited within history books as the most innovative, tobacco farmer. So next time you fill your bowl with Virginia's finest tobacco, contemplate on the trials and tribulations of this great man, the first President of the United States, George Washington.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Three Stooges & Pipe Smoking

Every Sunday morning from 5 A.M. until 9 A.M. on the AMC channel, The Three Stooges is broadcasted. I can recall watching them when I was younger and I seem to contemplate what it would have been like to live during those times. Every New Year's Eve, TV-38 would have their Annual Three Stooges Marathon and I would try to stay up all night to watch them.

As the years passed, I recorded every episode so that if I didn't stay up all night, I could watch their episodes at a later time. Even today, I have a box full of VCR tapes labeled with the years of The Three Stooges episodes and I believe I have seen them all. I still wake up every Sunday morning to watch them on AMC, in hopes of seeing an episode I have not seen before or possibly one that I may not remember.

With The Three Stooges having a long span from 1922 until 1975, I admire the early episodes the best with Moe, Larry, and Curly. I don't particularly care for Shemp or Joe but still, credit should be given where credit is due. Besides watching The Three Stooges and reflecting on what it would be like to live during the 1920's - 1940's, I find myself trying to notice any of The Stooges smoking a pipe. Although I have seen countless episodes of them smoking cigars, recently I found a few episodes featuring pipe smoking:

The 1941 Three Stooges short titled "I'll Never Heil Again," Moe has a pipe in his mouth while Curly smokes a water pipe with the Bay of Rum:

In another episode, in which I have not been able to find on YouTube yet, Curley smokes a gourd of calabash.

If there are more episodes featuring pipe smoking, contact the Northern Virginia Pipe Smokers Society (NVPSS) as we would be enthralled to let others be entertained. Until next time, Happy Pipe Smoking!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Put That in Your Pipe

Pipe smoking is a fun hobby. It is relaxing. It tastes good. It feels good. It helps us unwind. It helps us cope with stress. It enhances objectivity. It facilitates contemplation. People like Waxman and Kessler never mention these intangible benefits. They just want to know if the activity in question is "good for you" in a strict biological sense. If not, or if they think it is bad for you, they will attempt to outlaw it. This sort of reasoning would also support a ban on obesity, a requirement that all Americans exercise, the prohibition of junk food, limits on alcohol and caffeine consumption, and so on. The irony is that Waxman is, frankly, a little chubby, while Kessler used to be fat (and yo-yo dieting is quite unhealthy).

From Northern Virginia Pipe Smokers Society (NVPSS)

Compare these two with Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is as healthy as a horse and a dedicated cigar and occasional pipe smoker. I work out regularly myself. I have even trained with Arnold. In fact, I am something of a health nut. I go for a five-mile run at least once a week as part of my exercise program, which includes a minimum of four hours of strenuous workouts each week. I am in terrific physical condition. Yet I'm put on the defensive and treated as a pariah because I enjoy a pipe.

When it comes to pipes, I'm strictly a beginning student. Christopher Morley wrote in 1916 that "pipe smoking is properly an intellectual exercise." I have read 17 books on the subject and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of articles, and I still learn something new every time I visit a knowledgeable tobacconist. The best overview of the subject I've seen is The Ultimate Pipe Book by Richard Carleton Hacker, a fact-filled volume written in an interesting and fun style. Pipe collecting as a hobby has become such a passion for me that I own nearly 200 pipes, some dating back to the 1920s and '30s. I know the history of nearly all of them and the biography of the pipe carver. There may be only a few pipe smokers left, but we are intelligent and dedicated.

If smoking has any future at all, it lies in moderate pipe smoking. I realize excessive pipe and cigar smoking can contribute to some forms of mouth, throat, or lip cancer, but it is the excess that is the problem. It is relatively easy, with time and practice, to be a moderate pipe smoker.

As a statement of rebellion against political correctness, it's hard to beat pipe smoking. It's not nearly as risky as smoking cigarettes, and it offers unique pleasures. A whole new world of enjoyment will open up for you once you start discovering the various types of briar, the thousands of blends of exquisite tobaccos from all over the world, the hundreds of traditional and unusual shapes, sizes, and finishes for a pipe, and the possibilities for beautiful artwork carved into meerschaum and briar pipes. Remember the advice of this century's greatest scientist: Pipe smoking facilitates relaxation and objectivity. Also keep in mind that Einstein did not worry about defying convention. And to be a pipe smoker in America in the 1990s, you really must be an individualist.

From Northern Virginia Pipe Smokers Society (NVPSS)

Excerpts retrieved from: Put That in Your Pipe
As an act of rebellion against political correctness, pipe smoking is hard to beat.

by Rick Newcombe from the July 1994 issue


Manly Smells

Manly Smells

Smells can conjure up some powerful memories. The smell of pine needles can take you back to childhood Christmases or the smell of a laundry detergent can remind you of home. For me, there are certain smells that I’ve come to associate with manliness. Whenever I smell them I think of my dad or grandpa or some aspect of my boyhood and my initiation into the rites of manhood.

And apparently, I’m not alone. For fun last week, I asked Art of Manliness Facebook Fans and Twitter followers what smells they thought were manly. The response was overwhelming. I decided to pick a few of my favorite responses and make a post out of it. So without further ado, I present 15 manly smells.

Pipe Smoke

From Northern Virginia Pipe Smokers Society (NVPSS)

Not many men smoke pipes these days, which is a shame because people are missing out on the sweet manly smell of pipe tobacco. Cigarette and cigar smoke can be acrid and obnoxious, but pipe smoke is, well, just pleasant. A whiff of a nice clove or cherry wood blend summons images of kindly older men in tweed jackets sitting in a chair next to a warm cozy fire with an old dog nearby.

Other Manly Smells worth pondering over:
Gun Cleaning Solvent
Your Grandpa’s Chair
Original Old Spice
Hardware Store
Bowling Alley
Shoe Polish
Cut Grass

Retrieved from: