Above: Farbrica De Tabacos of H. Upmann, Havana, Cuba.
Below: Kennesaw Supreme, made on Trammell Street, Marietta, Georgia.
In early high school when my friends and I weren’t getting into trouble or trying to get out of trouble, we were pursuing our hobbies.
The hobby that we all seem to do at the time was collect cigar boxes and match covers.
I spent most of my teenage years with a wide assortment of cigar boxes. They were nice to keep things in.
I suppose there were about a ten of us who collected cigar boxes. We made our rounds to drugstores, restaurants, grocery stores, and anybody else who sold cigars. We tried to make good friends with the female cashiers at drugstores so they would but their cigar boxes aside just for one of us.
We collected unmercifully, as far as our friends and fellow collectors go. When we collected our friends were our competitors which meant they were also our enemies.
The biggest collector as far as accumulation was Jimmy Pat Presley. In his bedroom he had probably at least ten stacks of cigar boxes reaching the ceiling, lining the alls. And they were all different and he had no Tampa Nugget boxes.
It seemed people in Marietta smoked more Tampa Nugget cigars than any other brand. It was no status symbol to own a Tampa Nugget box.
The Kennesaw Cigar Company, located in Marietta, on Trammell Street was considered a rare box. The cigar plant was a little unpainted shack on the side of a millhouse looking house and the CEO, plant manager, foreman, and plant worker preferred sitting on his front porch watching people walk by rather than produced cigars, but he did when the mood struck him, so his boxes were rare.
If you had a rare box you were careful who you told it to. If Jimmy Pat knew you had a rare cigar box he would pay you a friendly visit. Then he would leave. I learned to search him before you let him leave. If you didn’t, it is highly possible you would be missing the rare cigar box and he would just happen to gain a box of the same name… but he would swear on a bible or his mother’s life that he did not take your cigar box. He was very convincing.
But I have never searched him when he left my parents’ house that I did not find something that belonged to me… and more than once it was cigar boxes.
Old habits are hard to break. From time to time when I am in the convenience store or the package store where I buy my lottery tickets I will ask the clerk does he have any empty cigar boxes. Now I don’t care if they are Tampa Nuggets or not. I just like their size and their sturdiness – they are still nice to put stuff in.
Today in our neighborhood Bill, who lives about two blocks way, was having a yard sale. Poor Bill is in his 50s. He is losing his house. It was sold on the courthouse steps. Now, he is selling almost everything he has because he has to move.
I dropped by. He had a stack of 8 cigar boxes for sale. One was a Cuban box, others were Dominican Republic, Montego, Jamaca, and Honduras.
If I gained these 55 years ago I would have been the envy of my friends – before they killed and robbed me, that is.