2018-11-07 / Editorial

OLD STOGIES

Don Lively

It was a while back.

I was browsing around a knick-knack/junk store that was exactly the kind of place where I can spend hours walking and looking.

Remembering.

One of my kids was with me, I honestly can’t remember which one. The smart mouth comment could have emanated from any one of my three offspring.

“Why would you even think about buying that smelly old cigar box?”

I just smiled.

I’d explain it to them later but at that moment I simply wanted to linger where I was, somewhere far back in my yesteryears.

The “smelly, old cigar box” was a vintage one, probably from the 50s or 60s. It had the King Edward Imperial logo arched over a portrait of a balding and bearded man who I assume was King Edward himself. Who else would it be? The box was colorful and sturdy and it did indeed, decades later, still smell of the six cent stogies that it once held.

My fascination with the box had nothing to do with the consumption of tobacco as I might have smoked ten cigars in my entire life.

My interest was drawn to the box by nostalgia, not by nicotine.

In my youth I owned a very similar cigar box where I kept my stuff, things that were important to me even if they held no interest to anybody else on Earth. The box was not lockable so in order to secure my bounty I kept it stowed under my bed, probably a wasted effort since I shared a bedroom with two curious brothers.

Still, I treated my cigar box as if it was a treasure chest.

Full of treasure.

At any given time there would be at least one buckeye in the cigar box. I never held to the belief that buckeyes were good luck charms any more than I believed that rabbit feet or four leaf clovers were. Mama raised me to believe that all good things, including good fortune, come from Jesus, not from the appendages of dead critters or dried up grass leaves. I didn’t keep the buckeyes around for luck. I kept them because that’s what Southern country boys did back then.

There was always a ball of string in my cigar box. Not the nylon coated, synthetic stuff that’s made today. Mine was 100 percent cotton but was very strong. I used it to string my own handmade recurve bows and to secure the fletch to my handmade arrows with which I stalked rabbits. I also used the string to construct snares to try to catch those same rabbits. The truth is, I never snared the first rabbit and never slew one with my bow and arrow, but I had a ball trying.

There was always a spare pocketknife in my cigar box, usually a brown handled Barlow with two blades. I kept one in the box in case I lost the one I always carried in my pants pocket. Daddy probably gave me a half dozen Barlows over the years and even though I long ago lost track of the cigar box, I still have a couple of the knives.

I also kept baseball cards that featured my favorite players. Long before the Braves came to Atlanta I was a Yankees fan. Go figure. Whitey Ford was by far my greatest baseball hero. I had at least ten Whitey Ford cards. This was long before the time when baseball cards were manufactured by the billions and were available everywhere. I wish I’d known then that those cards would one day be worth a small fortune.

There were always a few arrowheads in the box. Before some overly officious government bureaucrat decided that Indian artifacts had to stay buried so that nobody could enjoy them, I would stroll the riverbanks searching for the ancient weapons. I found plenty of them and my favorites would end up in my cigar box.

For years I kept a small Valentine's card that I got from a really cute girl in second grade. Hers was the only one I saved and I was undaunted by the fact that she had given similar Valentines to everybody in our class. Mine was special.

I didn't buy the antique cigar box that day.

These days I have secure, lockable places to keep my valuables. But if I happen upon one again at some dusty old junk store, I might have to reconsider.

I suspect I could find just the place for King Edward.

To hold my yesteryear treasures.

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