Second Time Around

Tales of Vashon

“You see that cruiser out there with the big bow wave and huge wake,” I asked John.  We were out on my deck, drinking single malt and smoking Dominican cigars, while we passed each other singular non-sequesters.  “Dad would say that he’s pushing too much water which he equated with poor boat design.”

John’s response was, “What this world needs is a really good 5 cent cigar.”  Attributed to but not authored by Vice President Marshall in our ‘cave of winds,’ the US Senate in the early 1900’s.

“Do you remember the camper trip to Ft. Flagler on Marrowstone Island and smoking the two special cigars that your brother Mike gave you,” John asked?  “Very much so,” I said and we stayed up till after midnight smoking those cigars and sipping single malt…”

And John carried on:” while I was not a serious cigar smoker.. That night was incentive enough that when I traveled through Cuba.. I made the effort to bring back really good Cubanos.. and good cigars in Cuba are not cheap.  ..even on the black market.. Ordinary Cuban cigars are cheap, but still good.  80 year old grandmas smoke them and can afford to do so even on the small income that is typical for most Cubans..

So I brought back a box.. of the best.. And aside from the few Seán and I smoked together, gave most away.. Certain Island musicians were the main recipients.. and one can only hope certain augmentations of their music resulted.

I had just finished a bowl of my homemade navy beans and ham hocks with onion and garlic, and turmeric, cayenne flakes and sumac, adding a cup of wine with chicken stock to replace the bean water that had boiled away, when..

“Hello, I’m here,” and the front door of the cabin was pushed open while my little dog Duffy had a conniption fit, because he doesn’t like being surprised, when it was only Dr. Thomas coming down for a cigar and a drink of 90 proof Woodinville bourbon, a birthday present from Ryan Gray.

Dr. Thomas started going thru my cupboards looking for glasses.  He’s not a medical doctor, but a doctor in forensic psychology and works with people who are mentally ill, through the court system.  “Do you have any ice?” Richard called from the kitchen.  “I doubt it,” I replied, because I don’t like watering down my whiskey and the ice-trays sit in my freezer so long that the ice disappears.

“Where is that old master cylinder from your 36 Plymouth?” Dr. Thomas called out.  He remembered that I use it for an ashtray.  “On top of the mantle over the fireplace,” I replied.

I paid Jerry Firnstahl  $25 for that old car in 1957; because it had a rumble seat.  The trunk lid folded back rather than forward and there was a seat for two people.  In the old days, a rumble seat was an uncovered seat attached to the back of a horse-drawn carriage that was intended for slaves or servants.  In this case, I hauled the Kearns brothers to school at Seattle Prep when the weather was nice.  There was an additional advantage to Jerry’s old Plymouth and that was the fact that it had no muffler and the straight pipe ended right under the feet of Tom and Terry keeping them warm.  The straight pipe had an additional advantage, as we came through the Battery street tunnel, I could turn off the key and allow the gases to build up in the straight pipe; which, when the engine was re-started would create an awful explosion and a three foot ball of flame would roar out of the rear end of the old Plymouth.

My old time car was lost to the sands of history until recently, when I found parts of it in the old gravel pit on Maury, where Tony Raab had driven it off the cliff for a $25 joke, which is what he paid me for a perfectly usable automobile.   In between the ages of 16 and 22, I owned 22 cars including a 1938 Pontiac with suicide doors and a rusted out floor, which had a story of its own.

I have to stop writing here because I hear the USPS truck turning around at the top of my steps. He had delivered a box of Baccurat-Honduran cigars I got from David Church, the only cigar he ever smokes.

It was then, that Dr. Richard sat down in my big recliner and pulled out a very expensive cigar in a glass tube and proceeded to drop his ashes into the master brake-cylinder of my 1936 Plymouth with a rumble seat.

Dr. Albert Mann was a teacher of Chinese history at Seattle University, and he smoked a pipe full of crumbled cigars.  I think he liked the taste of a different tobacco.

John Sweetman gave up smoking pipes 50 years ago because the USAF wouldn’t let him smoke under the canopy of an F100f Super Sabre fighter, while his pilot dropped their spent fuel tanks on a certain mountain just inside the Russian/Turkey border.  John willed me his beautiful pipe collection years ago and the cleaning lady dusts John’s pipes off every week, waiting for him to take them back.  In the meantime, I’m going to crush a cigar and see how John’s pipes smoke.  It doesn’t work, the smoke is hot and without taste.

Us kids smoked cigar shaped sticks which we found on the beach at Portage, though we weren’t allowed to smoke in Grandma Ada’s house.  I’ve been told that smokewood comes from willow brush that lines the bank and falls into the sound where the salt removes the lignin, leaving 100 little holes to draw the smoke thru, much like a cigar.