Archive for Thursday, May 17, 2007

Old-timers rolled their own

May 17, 2007

Have you ever watched anyone roll his or her own cigarettes? It seems to be a lost art.

When I was young I watched my dad roll his own. He used Prince Albert tobacco that came in a red metal container. It was fascinating to watch just how he could cup the tiny, flimsy, little piece of paper that was just the right size and pour the right amount of tobacco in it. He would then smooth it out and roll from one side and wet the other side with his tongue and seal.

The paper came in little packets already cut to size, and was like very thin tissue paper.

Many people used rolling machines that would make them more professional and made it seem a lot easier. Dad had one of these machines, although he preferred to roll his own and became quite good at it. It wasn't till the 1940s that he would buy pre-packaged cigarettes. He liked Chesterfield the best.

Tobacco sells now starting about $1 an ounce, which could make almost a full pack of cigarettes. Cigarette papers usually come in packs of 50 and cost from 50 cents to a dollar. They now come with a tiny-glued edge that did not happen in the early days. Therefore a pack would cost approximately $1.25 if you made your own.

We are not suggesting anyone do this as we know the dangers involved, but back then no one thought about that.

Even though dad would spill a little at times and make holes in the furniture, he was not convinced there was anything wrong with smoking. He had four sons who have never smoked.

It is an expensive habit and probably one that would be very difficult to break. With all the money spent on advertising, I am sure that influences many people. When I see the price of a carton now, I think, "Wow, I'm glad I didn't start."

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