My grandfather Ellsworth Hall was a good man with a small vice. He smoked cigars.
The smell of cigar smoke can bring the farm back to me in an instant. I can picture my Grandpa Hall walking toward the barn, hat on head and cigar in mouth.
The stumps of his cigars perched on the porch ledge, smoldered in the living room ashtray, and adorned his mouth as he went about his daily chores. I don’t think he smoked in the barn, but he kept the cigar between his lips and chewed on it a bit.
Modern grandparents would probably never approve of a soggy piece of cigar resting on the living room mantelpiece. But my grandfather was quietly in charge of his domain. He loved his cigars, and my grandmother loved him, so she let him be.
But she worried about him falling asleep in the big armchair with a burning stogie in his mouth. So my brother and cousins were given a job. On Friday nights, when professional wrestling was on and Grandpa Hall sat in his green chair to watch, Grandma Hall told my brother or whatever cousin was handy, “Sit next to Grandpa, and if he falls asleep, take the cigar out of his mouth and put it in the ashtray.” There was not always a helper around to do this, and there must have been accidents, because I remember that big green leather chair being full of little burn holes.
On Monday: Aunt Hattie