We Smoked Our Pipes And Took Our Ease


This week the Brown Daily Herald reported that students on campus are practically suffering nervous breakdowns. Why? Because social justice activism is interfering with their schoolwork. Or rather, getting an Ivy League education is interfering with their social justice work.

While it’s right and proper that colleges today are open to everyone, perhaps there’s something to be learned from the era of legacies and the old boys’ clubs. Today is International Pipe Smoking Day, and your captain and co-captain here are both brethren of the briar. And so we gladly present an article from a 2015 issue of the Yale Alumni Magazine, in which a student from the class of 1958 fondly recalls the prevalence of pipes during the Ivy heyday, and how they contributed to an atmosphere of stress-free studiousness:

Back in the 1950s, smoking a pipe was as much the fashion at Yale as button-down Gant shirts and scuffed white bucks. I wasn’t a smoker, but when I received my acceptance to Yale, my mother bought me a Dr. Grabow Yellow Bowl pipe and a can of Prince Albert tobacco. She thought smoking a pipe would have a calming influence on me. Her father smoked a pipe for over 60 years and was rarely, if ever, stressed out.

Ah, the days when mothers gave their sons pipes when they went off to college. You’ll find the full essay here. Happy reading, and smoking. — CC & CS

17 Comments on "We Smoked Our Pipes And Took Our Ease"

  1. I think we discussed this before, but what is everyone’s favorite tobacconist? What’s the best one in NYC? As a non-smoker, I don’t frequent them much. However, my wife enjoys a cigar once in a blue moon, so I am often in Nat Shermans buying a mild cigar for my sweetheart. I really enjoy the fraternal ambience and customer service in that store.

  2. 1958: mom buys pipe for son.

    2016: boyfriend buys cigar for girlfriend.

  3. @Christian interesting that the conversation turned to female cigar smokers,. I once wrote an editorial in defense of them.

    @Makaga – https://www.facebook.com/barclayrexny/

  4. @CS

    Cigar Aficionado printed a letter to the editor from me circa ’96 callling them out for some PC thing when it came to women and cigars. I’ve got that in storage but in California, alas.

  5. I have never been a smoker, but in the past couple of years I have been tempted to purchase a pipe and try my hand at it.

    Speaking of pipes: http://tinyurl.com/zetkaag

  6. Marc Chevalier | February 20, 2016 at 10:43 pm |

    I’ll continue smoking a pipe in spite of that photo.

  7. @ Marc: If you’re referring to the photo I posted I will guess that the his suit is the turn-off and not he man himself.

  8. The pipe has been replaced by the Bong on campus.

  9. Henry Contestwinner | February 21, 2016 at 1:45 am |

    I thought that kids these days were “smoking” vape “pipes” (or whatever they’re called).

  10. Reforned Cold Warrior | February 21, 2016 at 2:57 am |

    Pipe smoking? To each their own but i think that’s just silly as an antidote to stress. I take a few cigars every year but I would never encourage it to others. As for Brown, I suspect that the real culprit is not activism but the pathologizing of what used to be considered a normal range and intensity of emotion due to the self interest of corrupted drug companies. It is profoundly strange to me how I meet so many young people who are not only anxious, which I consider normal, but feeling doubly anxious about feeling axious because they think they shouldn’t be feeling anxious at all.

    This month I spent four days and nights at Harvard at an informal reunion after a thirty year absence. The mood was somewhat more serious than I recalled from my day but I was really happy to find that I think the kids are alright. They should make a little more time for fun though. It was shocking to see studying going on at midnight on a Friday. That is just wrong.

    There is a sense of things in flux, that changes are coming and their consequences are very uncertain. I think that feeling applies to many institutions across the USA at the moment.

    Bean boots and Canada Goose parkas were a common winter ensemble. Prep/trad is not dead by any means. Charlie Davidson was in extremely fine form and made much time for me. I saw at least two men under 30, regular customers and likely legacies, who affectionately hugged him and a few old guys like myself who dropped by just to say hello.

  11. Went to a hipster hangout in Brooklyn called Robertas. These kids aren’t the pipe smoking type; cigarettes they love. They’ve apotheosized irony (although oftentimes confusing plain old coincidence with irony) and demonized Corp america, yet they indulge in the single most deadly corporate product ever manufactured.

  12. I’m glad I got to smoke a pipe yesterday on Pipe Day. The weather was nice enough to play a few holes of golf, although very windy. But, I had the opportunity to smoke. An old Kaywoodie Dublin, (a model made without the stinger) smokes better than the stinger variety. A bowl of Captain Black Royal, not the best tobacco in the world, still tastes OK.

    Going over my 30 or so pipes, I cannot find a Dr. Grabow in the bunch. I had a few over the years, but pipes are items that come and go. Tom McCahill of Mechanix Illustrated said something to that effect.

    The OTC tobaccos sold today are a far cry from yesterdays’ offerings. If anyone’s interested, sign up on the Scandinavian Tobacco Group website, and they will send dollars off coupons. Worth the effort.

    I went to a Bible College, so I never did get the chance to smoke on campus. Smoking was strictly forbidden, along with any other fun.


  13. @ Reformed Cold Warrior: Harvard alumnus, eh?

    “As for Brown, I suspect that the real culprit is not activism but the pathologizing of what used to be considered a normal range and intensity of emotion due to the self interest of corrupted drug companies.”

    Or maybe it’s the activism getting in the way of their studies.

    “They should make a little more time for fun though. It was shocking to see studying going on at midnight on a Friday. That is just wrong.”

    Since we don’t know their personal schedule or what they did during the week saying that studying at midnight on a Friday is “just wrong” is nonsense.

  14. Reformed Cold Warrior | February 21, 2016 at 6:59 pm |

    In a fit of nostalgia, I forgot that Tinseth’s was the only site worth responding to, Now i remember why,

  15. Henry Contestwinner | February 23, 2016 at 12:12 am |

    My local tobacconist, Hellam’s, is California’s oldest tobacco shop and the longest-running business in the county—since 1893. They have some house blends of pipe tobacco that are a pleasure to smoke.

  16. Re: Nat Sherman: Summer of 2010, not long before dad died, brother and I went with him to see his (dad’s) old barracks on Governor’s Island (he showed us the parade field where he and his mates were formed up to be told that Kennedy was dead); then had dinner at the Heidelberg in Yorkville, where dad used to take dates almost 50 years previous; then the three of us walked dinner off with a stroll down 2nd Ave, then over and down 5th, enjoying Nat Sherman cigars.

    Re: pipes – I have one, and love the feel and smell of it, and enjoy smoking it. But can’t seem to bring myself to do so outside the home, lest I be accused of an affectation, or worse, hipster-ism.

  17. Leavitt & Peirce in Cambridge. Love it. Also great if you like to roll your own cigs…they have a number of good and inexpensive rolling tobacco’s by the ounce…I like “Golden Shag”…
    They also carry a good selection of classic mens fragrances and soap.

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