Saturday, May 4, 2013

Saturday at the Hut - 5/4/13

We had a great turnout today at The Tobacco Hut! I was still recovering from last night's inaugural Pipe Night (see the post below for a full report with pictures) that ran a little late, so didn't make it in this morning until close to eleven o'clock. Of course, nobody could really determine what time I got there 'cause the damned clock is gone.

Let's start with the lengthy roll call. When I arrived there was Rob, Joe K, Vic, Mike, Don, Aaron, and Pete. Rob was gracious enough to give up the big leather recliner-that-doesn't-recline to me. Of course, he was leaving anyway, and as I was shaking Vic's hand, he held on with an iron grip and gestured to Joe to grab the chair and abandoned his folding chair. I blocked Joe but the old man threatened to kick me with his steel tips in an area that would preclude me from having further children. Vic was kind enough to release the handshake and I quickly slipped into the enveloping comfort of the recliner.

L-R, Mike and Don. (Click to enlarge).

L-R, Aaron, Joe, Vic, Pete. (Click to enlarge)

I fired up my Ascorti with some Baker Street - a little mellower than the Searchlight I enjoyed the night before - and got up to speed on the comings and goings of the day. Vic was seated in a position where he really didn't have easy access to an ashtray, and we pointed out that it was too bad that the Cuesta Ray canister ashtray was missing.

You know, what's with all the looting of the store that took place when Lou was closing it? Clocks, ashtrays, signs, tobacco jars, etc., etc. It's absolutely shameful.

At one point, we were talking about Eric Rudolph, the guy who bombed the abortion clinics and the Atlanta Olympics, and disappeared into the mountains of North Carolina. (Funny, we were talking about him last night at Pipe Night, but couldn't remember his name). We were specifically discussing how even with his survival training he had difficulties making it in the rough terrain. He was finally caught Dumpster diving, according to Mike. I started to make the point that someone like me out in the woods, with no training, wouldn't last -- and the room erupted in laughter. I guess the notion of me, me in particular, out in the woods, trying to survive struck the collective funny bone.

My survivalist mettle was tested later tonight however, when I had to wrestle a lizard from the washing machine. See my Facebook posting - and Mike G's comment - in the screenshot below:

A short time later who should walk in but Jim S. Haven't seen Jim in quite awhile. I was ready to kick Don out of one of the club chairs but Jim couldn't stay. Too bad - maybe he'll come back for the Grand Re-Opening on May 18th or the next Pipe Night on June 7th. Jim works in the defense intelligence industry and always has interesting stories to tell. He usually stops short of telling us enough that he has to kill us though and, for that, we thank him.

Mike and I were talking about pocketknives when all of a sudden who should appear in the doorway but the Knife Guy himself, Scott R. That was a little spooky. Just talk about the guy and he appears. Anyway, Mike had been telling me about a knife designer (is that the right term?) called Todd Begg who apparently has some sort of knife show on the Discovery Channel. You can check out his website here. Pretty interesting.

Anyway, Scott showed us his latest acquisition, a Case pocketknife. I don't remember the particulars of it, but it was a very sharp knife (pun intended!). If you haven't looked at it recently, Scott is still going strong on his pocketknife blog. For my handful of readers here who criticize me for missing a week or two, you'd love Scott's blog. He writes regularly on his subject, and writes well. Maybe if I had had one of the pocketknives Scott has so generously given me, my encounter with the lizard from above would have gone a bit better.

A little while later, Scott's brother-in-law, Jeff arrived. I think they both settled down with a Kane Blue, or some such thing. I don't know, I'm a pipe smoker, I can't keep all these cigars straight. They both liked it though.

Scott - "The Knife Guy" (Click to enlarge).

L-R, Jeff and Pete. (Click to enlarge).
Jeff was telling us about his latest purchase, a Google Chromebook. He's very impressed with it so far. At only $250, it looks like a sweet little computer, aimed at the computer user who primarily uses it for surfing the web, Facebook, and email.

I think Jeff's assessment of Windows 8 is about the same as Joe's. Both are concerned that long-time Windows users, especially older folks, are a little bewildered by the changes in the operating system. I would recommend a Mac at that point, but that's just me.

Everyone but Scott and Jeff had left at that point, and the talk turned to football. I raised what I thought was a good many first round quarterback draft picks have gone on to greatness? I think the expectations and pressure is so high that it's almost impossible for most of them to excel.

Scott and Jeff had left and I was packing up my pipe kit (or "mass kit" as Mike used to refer to it as) when who should I see walking across the parking lot? Barry C! Haven't seen the man in months. I stuck around for a while and got caught up with him. Congratulations are in order as he is a grandfather, or Pop Pop as he prefers to be called.

Barry was hoping that Scott was here because he had a knife he wanted to see if Scott could look at. Too bad you couldn't have made it just twenty minutes sooner. Scott was wrapping up his knife show, or should I say "Heavy Things With Sharp Edges Show". Scott not only showed us his new Case pocket knife, but brought in a hunting knife that he re-handled, and then a frickin' hatchet that he restored. I was a little afraid when he left for the final time he was actually going to bring in an axe and go all Jack Nicholson in The Shining on us.

Anyway, great to see all the familiar faces today. Start planning now to attend the Grand Re-Opening in two weeks! Saturday, May 18th, all day. Pete has lined up some door prizes, raffle items, etc. It promises to be a great time. More details to come! BTW, not sure if they were serious, but Vic promised some home made New York liverwurst for the party...


Pipe Night at The Hut - 5/3/13

Well, I was a little nervous that the The Tobacco Hut's first Pipe Night would consist of just me sitting there smoking a pipe. But, for the first event, it was pretty well attended. It was scheduled from 6-8 PM and I arrived first. At 4 o'clock. Well, I couldn't wait. And, I brought along the big gun to smoke so I would need more than an hour or two to smoke it. (There was some discussion during the evening as to what to call my new David Jones acquisition - see the 4/20/13 post for a pic. It is a rather large pipe and a bit heavier than normal. Some names offered were "The Judge", "The Persuader", "The Log", etc.).

It wasn't long before Rob showed up. Guess he had the same idea I did - wanting to get a good seat for the festivities. At around 6 o'clock Jimmy arrived. At least one person could tell time and show up at the appropriate hour! Jimmy's been in a few times now and is a recent convert to pipes. A few minutes later Kitty and her father Don H arrived. Some other folks came to make purchases, but didn't hang around. For most of the evening it was Rob, Jimmy, Kitty, Don, Pete, and me sitting around talking pipes. 

The sun is low and the pipes have been lit. L-R: Rob, Kitty,
Don, Jimmy. (Click to enlarge).
Don apparently has been a long-time customer of the Hut, and I noticed he was smoking a Crown Viking he had purchased from Lou some years ago. I myself have a few of my own thanks to Lou, and they are all excellent smokers.

Don's daughter Kitty is also an ardent pipe smoker. It's good to see not only young folks, but women as well, taking up the pipe. I think she said she's only been smoking for a couple years, but she certainly has the passion for it, and has a good eye for pipes. She brought several with her, including a nice Nording.

Kitty and Don were both eager to impart their experience with pipes to Jimmy and Rob, both relative newcomers to the hobby. Everyone took advantage of the Buy One/Get One tobacco discounts and the pipe discounts. I think Pete said at the end of the evening that he sold eight pipes!

L-R, Kitty's arm, Don, Jimmy. (Click to enlarge).
I was quite gratified that Searchlight was a crowd favorite, as I created the blend back in March. I took the existing Baker Street (which I helped Lou tweak a little, boosting the Latakia in it) and increased the amount of Latakia further, decreased the Virginia, and added a pinch of Perique. It's a robust blend, but very smooth and smokes nicely all the way to the bottom of the bowl. At the end of the evening, I dumped out nothing but fine gray ash.

Pete provided pizza, sodas, and beer, but Kitty had the right idea and made a Sangria run to Winn-Dixie. Too bad she only brought one glass back with her!

Toward the end of the evening, two of my co-workers, Alex O and John S arrived. Alex is a pipe smoker and John is a cigar smoker, but he took the plunge on Friday and entered the Brotherhood of the Briar. He picked up a nice bent sitter from the board and I steered him to Alaskan Gold and Baker Street. I'm a firm believer in starting new pipers out with English blends - this way they're getting the true flavor of the tobacco with nothing added. (Just my preference. In the end, it's all about what you enjoy. "Smoke what you like and like what you smoke.").

The sun has set and it's getting a little hazy.
L-R, Kitty, Don, Alex, John, Jimmy. (Click to enlarge).
Pete was kind enough to stay open an extra hour and then some while the eight of us sat around discussing mostly pipes, enjoying the last of the pizza and fishing the occasional beer from the cooler.

Congratulations to Jimmy who won the raffle. (Sorry to Alex and John, it was held shortly before you arrived). He used his $50 gift card prize toward the purchase of a very handsome looking bent pipe. Please let us know how it smokes, Jimmy!

Pete also announced the winner of the Name the New Tobacco Contest. The winning name is Calypso, as suggested by Ed F. Ed wins a free pound of tobacco, or the equivalent in other merchandise. Unfortunately Ed couldn't be with us on Friday as he was called away by work duties, so I accepted the gift card on his behalf and promptly spent it. Just kidding, Ed! Congratulations and hopefully you can make the next Pipe Night...see the next paragraph.

We all decided that we should do this on a monthly basis, and Pete agreed. So, look for another Pipe Night on Fri, June 7th. As long as participation stays strong, we'll do it the first Friday of each month. I'll send out notices via email blasts and Facebook to remind folks.

I had mentioned to the group an online pipe smoker's discussion board I'm active on and wanted to pass on the link to it here. It's called Smoker's Forums and has been around a long time. It has thousands of members and everyone is very friendly and welcoming, especially to newcomers. My "handle" on the board is Seneca77. It's free to join, of course, and I would encourage everyone to check it out. It's a great place to ask questions and share in the spirit of the pipe.

Final note to Kitty...I had referenced an artisan tobacco blender by the name of Greg Pease. He has an excellent website located here, and his tobaccos can be purchased at various online retailers. Once at his website, click on the Stockists link and you'll find a list of dealers that carry his tobacco. I recommend The Briary, out of Alabama. I've done business with them before and have always been well taken care of.

Thanks to everyone for coming for the Hut's inaugural Pipe Night, and hope to see everyone again soon.

 - Bob

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Saturday at the Hut - 4/27/13

Saturday at The Tobacco Hut saw quite a few people folks hanging around for a cigar or pipe. Let's start with the roll call, in no particular order: Rob, Lou, Joe K, Don, Peter, Scott, Ed F, and Tom L. It was nice to see the Hut included in a lot of people's Saturday plans. I had to give Joe some crap regarding not calling me when he and James were at the shop a couple weeks ago. He responded with some sort of finger display which I shan't duplicate here, since impressionable young children may be reading this.

Tom arrived and promptly began making fun of us pipe smokers. He poked fun at Peterson's trademarked P-Lip and it's somewhat phallic-shaped profile. As Ed pointed out though, this coming from a man who was smoking a cigar. But, as Freud once said supposedly, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." I do think though that as much as Tom is a pipe-a-phobe, he actually secretly wants to come out of the closet and embrace the pipe. Tom, it's OK, at the Hut you're in a safe environment. Break out the pipe, become one with it.

Earlier, Rob and Don and Joe and I were talking computers and airplanes and other subjects. Don is a pilot so we - or at least I - were grilling him on various aspects of flying. How fast he can fly, how high, etc. All fascinating stuff to us "civilians." Speaking of pilots, when are we going to see you again, Arnie? It's been awhile.

Later Scott came in and delivered an old Magnavox transistor radio to Peter. Peter collects old radios and immediately set about trying to get it to work. He was confident he could get it working properly with a little cleaning. Scott, being the resident "Knife Guy", also brought me a pocket knife, pictured below. It's a Scout knife (not an official Boy Scout, that's just the name of the knife) from Seneca Cutlery Co. in Utica, NY. Thank you Scott!
My newest knife from the "Knife Guy" (click to enlarge).
This one has special meaning to me, not only because it's from upstate NY, but because it's a Seneca, like me. Well, I'm at least partially a Seneca. Indian, that is. My great, great grandmother was a Seneca and her name was...Steptoe. That part of the family tree has some really kind of odd names - at least by modern standards - and I'm glad those names weren't passed down through the generations.

According to Scott, the knife itself was manufactured between 1930-1940, and is in pretty good condition considering its age. After numerous discussions, Scott is well aware of my love for all things vintage, and all things New York. I recently scored this Genesee Beer Tray on eBay and will be receiving it shortly.
This Genesee Beer Tray from the 1950s will soon be
hanging in my office (click to enlarge).
Don't forget that this Friday, May 3rd is Pipe Night! From 6-8:00 pm, come in - whether you're a pipe smoker or not - and hang out! You could also win a $50 store gift card in the raffle. If you are a pipe smoker, there are going to be some great discounts on pipes and tobacco as well, plus food and beverages.

Saturday, May 18th is the official Grand Re-Opening, so make plans to attend.

See you next time!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Saturday at the Hut - 4/20/13

Saturday at The Tobacco Hut was marked by my new pipe's inaugural smoke. I purchased a monster of a pipe from David Jones, a master carver and true artist located in Texas. He's noted for shaping large chunks of wood and for aging his briar more than 15 years. His craftsmanship is evident and the smoking quality of his pipes are outstanding. I owned two of his already and when I saw this one his eBay shop, I just had to have it.

My new David Jones pipe (click to enlarge).
I filled the bowl with some of McClelland's Wilderness tobacco, and kept filling! It's a gigantic bowl surrounded by so much briar that I barely felt the heat. The pipe measures 6-1/2" long and the bowl stands a full 2" high and about the same in diameter. For all the wood, it's surprisingly light, although I definitely won't be clenching it between my teeth.

The pipe provided an excellent, cool, dry smoke. It's definitely an all-day pipe: I fired it up around 9:15 and dumped the last bit of ash out around 2:30. But what a smoke! It's definitely in the rotation. Of course, Paula objected just a bit when I announced that I needed a new pipe. "You have so many, plus they all look the same!" I explained that she had so many shoes and they all looked the same too. Then I ducked.

Apparently last week, Joe's son James made a rare appearance at The Hut. From what the other guys told me, I pulled in about thirty seconds after they had left. Thank you Joe and James for letting me know you were going to be there. I guess I'll have to wait another several years before I see James again. I think the last time I saw him he was still drying vodka out of his ear after swimming across a retention pond. This week Joe was attending some family function out of town, but hopefully he'll be at the shop this coming Saturday.

Today's attendance included Pete and myself, of course, and Rob, Paul, Lou, Ed F, and Aaron. Something interesting came to light as one of the aforementioned regulars came in and stocked up on cigars. I won't mention names, but while another regular has been away this particular person has been raiding his neighbor's humidor. Now I don't know any details, and far be it from me to engage in gossip or throw anyone under the proverbial bus, but I just thought it shouldn't go unmentioned.

There have been quite a few entries in the Name The New Tobacco Contest. Whoever wins gets a free pound of their favorite tobacco (or the equivalent value in other merchandise - $62 worth). The winner will be announced at, appropriately enough...Pipe Night! That's right, as mentioned in this space in the last blog post, The Tobacco Hut introduces its first Pipe Night.

Pipe Night will be held Friday, May 3rd, from 6-8 PM at the store. Pete will provide food and beverage, and there will be discounts on selected pipes, plus buy one/get one on tobacco up to 4 ounces. And, as always, you can fill up your pipe with a new tobacco to give it a try. And the best part, everyone who walks in receives a raffle ticket for a chance to win a $50 store gift card! Even if you're not a pipe smoker, you can still show up and have fun!

And if you're reading this Tom L, I've converted another one! That's right, Rob has gone from cigars to pipes! And they keep coming! Jimmy is a newcomer who has been in a couple times now. Pete and I helped him pick out his first pipe last week and he came back to try some other tobaccos this week. Hopefully we'll see more of him in the future. See, it's my diabolical plan to convert everyone to pipes. You're next Tom!

Speaking of upcoming events, Pete is looking at holding the official Grand Re-Opening the third week in May, so probably Saturday, May 18th. More details to come on that, but hold that date and plan to attend. It promises to be quite the blow-out!

If you haven't already, please surf on over to The Tobacco Hut's Facebook page and click "Like". The community of Tobacco Hut fans is growing and there's always something brewing there, like exclusive weekly Facebook specials.

See you next time!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Saturday at the Hut - 3/30/13

Although everyone wasn't there at once, we had a nice crowd at The Tobacco Hut on Saturday. The first batch of Hutters were there first thing in the morning: Lou, Joe K, Rob, Don, Pete (of course), and myself. Later Steve B, Ed F, and Laurie arrived in the afternoon. It's not like there's a time clock or anything, but there was definitely a morning shift and an afternoon shift. And, naturally, if you listened to Joe, we  have no idea what time it is in the store anyway since I spirited the clock away several months ago.

The humidors are growing. Well, not the humidors themselves, but what's inside. Pete has been actively increasing the inventory and it shows! It's not quite to the level where he wants, but there's plenty of selection and depth now - enough to please most everyone.

We pipe smokers have reason to be happy as well. There's a full rack of Peterson pipes and then some, and four new tobaccos. More pipes are on the way and Pete and I are working on putting together a "Pipe Night" event. More info to come on that.

Maybe Kramer will show up at our upcoming Pipe Night!
(more info to come).
Pete kindly gave me free range to "invent" one of the new tobaccos. I took the existing Baker Street tobacco, which consists of Virginia and Latakia and I messed around with the ratios a bit and added a bit of Perique. The new blend borders on being a Balkan-type tobacco and is quite tasty. The best part, I think, is its name. In honor of our friend, Lou, we named it Searchlight. I think he approved.

There is an English-aromatic crossover tobacco called Spitfire which contains Virginia, Burley, Oriental and a bit of Cavendish. There is also a whiskey-flavored tobacco which is called 19th Hole.

For the fourth new tobacco, Pete needs your help in naming it. It's a fruity, tropical tobacco, very aromatic with a very nice room note. We thought it would be fun to have a contest to name the tobacco. Take a sniff of the new blend, light up a bowl of it if you're a pipe smoker, and come up with a fun name for the tobacco. If your suggestion is used, you'll win a pound of tobacco or the equivalent value ($62) in a new pipe, or cigars! So even if you're not a pipe smoker, you can still have fun with it and have a chance to win some cigars! There are entry forms at the store and the contest is good through April 30. If you're not able to make it into the store before the end of the month and still want to participate, leave a comment on this blog post with your email address (so we can add you to the mailing list) and you could still win!

I think Saturday actually had more pipe smokers in than cigar smokers, especially if you count Rob who is considering switching over to a pipe in the next week or so. Also, a shout out to my friend Alex from the Times who came in a few weeks ago and smoked his pipe. Nice to see the ranks of the pipe smokers growing.

I have developed and am managing the new Facebook page for the Hut. So if you're on FB, head on over to the page by clicking here and "Like" the page. Why should you like the page? Besides continuing the conversation at the Hut and connecting with friends and making new ones, you'll receive weekly, exclusive, Facebook offers available to no one else. Every Monday morning look for a post on the store's page that outlines a special of the week.

Finally, I'm helping Pete develop a monthly newsletter to be emailed out. It will be emailed on our around the first of each month and if you'd like to get on the mailing list you can sign up at the store or shoot me an email - - indicating you want to be on the list. All the usual privacy policies exist: your information won't be shared with anyone, etc., etc. We won't fill your inbox with crap, just a monthly newsletter and the occasional email if there's an event coming up or something. The first newsletter goes out tomorrow!

There are lots of things happening at The Tobacco Hut. Look for a grand opening party in the next month or so. Hopefully we can plan on a date when Don is available to cater the whole affair with his mouthwatering BBQ.

See you next week!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Saturday at the Hut - 2/23/13

This blog post will actually cover both Friday and Saturday at The Tobacco Hut, since the shop re-opened on Friday and I was there as well. I knew that Pete was planning a little remodeling and sprucing up before he opened the shop, and when I walked in on Friday it looked like he and Laurie had been hard at work.

The front half of the store had been painted and new flooring had been at least partially installed. Things were in a bit of disarray with tools scattered about, the TV on the floor, racks and furniture out of place, etc. But, and this is important...the store was open for business!

Tom L had come in earlier but by the time I got there he had already left. Joe was there when I arrived and Peter came in later. Don also came in but I had already left, and I guess Aaron was there as well.

The infamous clock, now on my office
wall, along with a couple other
artifacts from the Hut.
(Click to enlarge)
I had informed Joe in an email that I would be there between 12-1:00 that day as I was taking the afternoon off from work. When I walked in around 12:30, Joe demanded to know where I'd been, implying that I was late. I protested, saying that I was on time. I whirled around to point at the clock above where the TV normally sits and, of course, no clock. Ah, damn, I shouldn't have bought that clock from Lou which now sits on the wall in my office. Okay, Joe, you got me!

I delivered Pete & Laurie's new business cards, as well as Joe's. I felt I needed to get Joe back, so I told him that the printer printed his business cards upside down. I did get him for a second, as a momentary flash of confusion crossed his face.

Sorry, Joe, your business cards
got printed upside down.
With mutual "gotchas" out of the way, Joe was kind enough to buy me a cigar. I had brought my pipe with me, but with Joe's kind offer, I decided to delay the pipe until Saturday. I headed off to the humidor and grabbed a Fuente 8-5-8. By the way, the humidor is getting back to its normal inventory levels. Pete is actively ordering new supplies and it will take a few weeks to be bursting at the seams, but its well on its way now.

Joe left and Pete, Laurie, and I talked about some marketing and advertising plans for the store. Pete and Laurie both see enormous potential for the Hut and I think we'll all be pleased with what's to come.  They're looking at holding an official grand re-opening in a few weeks and we might even have Don prepare some of his world-famous barbeque for it. If you were fortunate to be here several months ago and sampled some, you know how good it is. You won't want to miss it. More to come when the dates get firmed up.

New hardwood floors really spruce
up the place. (Click to enlarge)
When I walked in Saturday morning, it was like night and day. Everything was put back in place, no tools scattered about, and the place actually looked bigger. The new wood floors really make a difference. The chairs were where they should be, and guess who was in his old chair? That's right, Lou was sitting in the "king's chair", like nothing had changed!

Well, a couple things had changed. He was speaking a little more deferentially to us and didn't kick anybody out of "his" store! Joe was there as well and, before long, Vic arrived, then Rob, and Don showed up too. I gotta tell you, now that Lou's no longer the owner, we can bust his chops a lot more! But he took it in stride, and dished it out just as much as he ever did. Lou said he's going to try and stop in on Saturdays, but of course taking care of Dotty is his first priority.

Just like old times!
(Click to enlarge)
Laurie provided some tasty baked goods, including some wonderful chocolate chip cookies. I lit up a Crown Viking freehand with some equally tasty Baker Street tobacco, and we all concluded that it is a very good thing that the Hut continues.

See you next Saturday!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Tobacco Hut Re-Opens Friday

Good news! I talked to Pete, the new owner of The Tobacco Hut, today and he is re-opening the store this Friday, Feb 22! I'll be there on Saturday and hope others can make it as well. It's been a long few weeks but I'm sure it will be worth it. I, for one, can't wait to settle into my chair and light up a pipe with some favorite tobacco. And if I get to wondering how long I've been loafing around the shop, I can just check the clock on the - oh, never mind.

Anyway, if you can make it, let's get those regular Saturday meetups on track again. Pete is planning an official grand re-opening party in several weeks (details are still in the works), but let's not wait. Let's make our own party this Saturday and get those sticks (and pipes) lit up!

See everyone Saturday!

 - Bob