The Lake News Online
Take a trip down memory lane as bloggers Danny Batson and Gary Thomas recollect their experiences while growing up in the Chillicothe area. We hope our discussion starters, pictures, and articles will evoke your personal recollections of Chillicothe; we invite you to share your stories with all of us. So, let us discuss the days gone by and have fun!
Wfen Smoking Was Cool by Bernard R. Dawkins USN (RET.)
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About this blog
By Gary Thomas
Hi, I am Danny Batson (Knouse) and I am a lifelong resident of the Chillicothe area. I was born in 1951 and graduated from CHS in 1969. I took over my dad’s septic tank business that he founded in 1937. While I have been in every state ...
Chillicothe: As We Remember

Hi, I am Danny Batson (Knouse) and I am a lifelong resident of the Chillicothe area. I was born in 1951 and graduated from CHS in 1969. I took over my dad’s septic tank business that he founded in 1937. While I have been in every state (except Hawaii and Maine), there is no place like home! I love taking pictures of old and unusual things and sharing them. There is beauty in everything, if we look for it. I have three Facebook pages filled with local pictures that may be of interest: “Where Has Danny Been,” Chillicothe Now,” and “Danny Batson”.

Hi, I am Gary Thomas and I was born just across from Central School in 1942. I graduated from CHS in 1960 and MU in 1964. After two years in Army, I completed a graduate degree at the University of Chicago in 1970. After working in software development for more than 40 years, I retired from Raytheon in 2007. I have an abiding interest in history and in researching past events, places, and people. My latest project is developing a history-based chronology for Livingston County from 1801-2000.

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By Gary Thomas
May 18, 2013 12:19 a.m.

Editor's Note:
Growing up in the middle of the last century, smoking cigarettes was the norm. Most adults I knew smoked. Almost all movie stars smoked. I remember our huge Dawkins family gatherings on Christmas Eve had a hazy aura about them. My Dad Glenn smoked pipes until he passed at age 57 of a heart attack. He had switched from cigarettes some years before, but I believe that many years of smoking was one contributing factor to his early death.
My big brother Glenn, Jr. smoked pipes for many years and I figured that a sophisticated, 18 year old student at MU should smoke pipes as well. Well I did, but I wasn't. I gave smoking pipes up by age 30, because the satisfaction wasn't worth the effort. Fortunately, I never developed a tobacco addiction, some friends and family were not so fortunate.
Last year, I featured the interesting life and times of my cousin, Bernard (Bernie) Dawkins. Some material used in that article was based upon his autobiography written in the 1990's. He has kindly provided me access to material set aside for a sequel (yet to be written.) I hope some of you may relate and recollect as I have to a story written by Bernie about smoking as a child. Those of you that know what LSMFT means may remember better than most.
My earliest attempt to smoke, as I recall, was in Braymer, Mo. in the early 1930's. I was about 8 or 9 years old. Very close to our home was a small lake (or a large pond) called Wilson's Pond. It was great for catching Sunfish and Crawdaddy's. The Price family had recently moved into the house beside the pond, I quickly made friends with Cecil and Clifford Price, both were near my age.
I was visiting them one summer morning down near the pond. Cecil asked me if I knew how to smoke. I confessed that I never had, but that I would be willing to try. Cecil pulled an old corncob pipe from one pocket, and some dried cornsilks from another. I watched with great interest as he stuffed the pipe and lit up with a large kitchen match.
He puffed vigorously. Then he passed the pipe to Clifford, who also took several puffs. "Coffee grounds is better," said Cecil,"but we don't have any grounds." Clifford passed the pipe to me. But I blew on the stem instead of drawing. The brothers laughed. They then told me to "suck on the stem, like a straw." I drew in deeply and started coughing. The boys laughed at my discomfort once again. Determined to redeem myself, I took the pipe and puffed rapidly, creating a cloud of smoke. Clifford applauded and gleefully said, "Look at Bernard Smoke!" Then, at the moment of my triumph, mother Price caught us and that session ended abruptly!
A few days later, I brought them some used coffee grounds from my mother's garbage can. We had another smoking session which was not interrupted. I quickly learned to smoke "Indian Cigars". In those days, the Catalpa tree flourished all about there. Some may the Catalpa's seed pods, when dried resembled cigars. I would cut the green "cigars" into cigarette size and then dry them on the corregated tin roof of our backyard shed.
One day I was drying my "harvest" and my Mother came up to me. She looked at them and then at me. She asked "What in the world are you doing, Bernard?" I came up quickly with an inspired answer. "Mother, I am going to make small log cabins." Then I deftly demostrated my intention with a fistful of them. Indian Cigars were really strong and they would burn your tongue. We would eat green onions, green apples or anything to disguise our breath after smoking. Wow! Our breath was so bad we could hardly stand each other!
In Junior High School, I graduated to "sniping butts". I picked up long, clean cigarette butts and stripped the tobacco. I would then smoke the reclaimed tobacco in a cheap pipe, or roll it on an inexpensive cigarette roller. While a sack of Bull Durham could be purchased for five cents, we had other priorities for our nickles. Afterall, the cigarette papers were free.
At about fifteen years of age, I began smoking openly, with my mother's tolerance, if not approval. My cigarette of choice was Lucky Strike, in the green pack. In 1942, I joined the Navy a day after I graduated from Chillicothe High School. During the war years, The green was replaced on the Lucky Strike packs and the cigarette company used the slogan, "Lucky Green has gone to war!" In the Navy, cigarettes could he bought, tax-free for fifty-five cents a carton!
Even after the war cigarettes could he purchased for fifteen cents a pack, or two for a quarter! During the Korean Conflict (I reenlisted in the late 40's), I could buy a carton of cigarettes at military comissaries for a dollar and fifteen cents.
I quit smoking in 1967, It took me that long to realize that smoking is a devastating, addictive habit. For me, quitting "cold turkey" seemed, at the time, an impossible goal. So I decided that I would just postpone my next cigarette. I would set a short, achievable goal, then when I reached that goal, I would set another. So far, I have postponed my next cigarette for more than thirty years.
Second-hand smoke really bothers me so I try to stay as clear from smoke as possible. Total avoidance has been more difficult in my case because I really enjoy neighborhood taverns, and so many of my friends are still smokers.
I would like to think that I would never have started smoking if today's overwhelming body of evidence against smoking had been available to my generation. But, I doubt if I would have done so. I can still recall my self-perception as an adolescent; strutting down the street with a cigarette dangling from my lips, with admiring passersby whispering, "There goes a Marlborough Man!"

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