Cigar talk, Cigar story
Cigars are for me about meeting new people , learning their stories and of course enjoying the cigar. When the cigar boom hit in the early nineties, every where you looked a cigar club was part of the woodwork. I was invited to attend and become a member of the Empire Cigar Club in Boston whose membership were primarily business men , politicians and government employees.
Every other month we would have a formal diner, cigars. alcohol and dressed in a suit. The event was held in the old Holiday Inn in downtown Boston. I don’t quite remember how I actually got invited but I believe I was a guest of a friend who was a former military servicemen. Part of the deal was a cigar presentation which was discussed by the cigar rep. We could bring our own stash too. I was excited to go , got my blue suit cleaned, and made the trek on the Red Line to Government Center T stop.
As we mingled with some of the members , I met several Pols including at the time Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts Tommy O’Neill. Tommy was the son of Tip O’Neill the legendary Speaker of the House. I was introduced to Tommy who had his cigar firing away. We made small talk, he further introduced me to other members of the Empire Cigar club who were in the higher stratosphere of Boston’s power brokers . It was an experience for me , hob knobbing with the crowd.
In the mix I shook hands with the former fire chief of Chelsea Ma. a small suburb of Boston. Chelsea was known as the most densely populated city in the United States for it’s tiny size. It was also where Jazz great Chick Corea was born. The fire chief and myself talked about the city, cigars and the Red Sox. He asked me how many cigars I smoked and told him about 7, meaning one a day for a weeks total of 7. He commented he smoked about 7 too but that was 7 a day. I asked him where does he find the time to smoke that many? As he was retired , he would go to different cigar shops throughout the city and smoke a cigar in each shop he visited. This averaged about 7 cigar shops a day. This kept him busy and he enjoyed meeting people in every shop. I found this ironic that a retired fire chief would spend so much time around smoke but he did not seem to get it. I might actually have offended him by commenting but am not clear if this was the case.
As we finally sat down to our meal , alcohol and cigars, the MC of the event asked us to briefly speak about ourselves, and tell a funny story. In the room were about 30 men who knew how to tell a story. None of their stories were brief but the tales were very entertaining as they spoke about deals, backroom politics and life experiences. The story telling was eating into the time of the event and I still had to still come up with a story for this tough crowd. Fortunately as the clock was running I was hoping I would be bypassed but realized I would have to comment about something. It came to pass it was my turn . I introduced myself, gave them a bit of my background and told them about my cigar buddies I met at the Cambridge YMCA. The details are sketchy but my friends at the Y were a varied lot of athletes, body builders and a small cadre of criminals.
The cigar group smiled and welcomed me into the fold of the Empire Cigar club.
We had several more meetings but the hotel eventually kicked out as the guests complained of the cigar odor waffling through the doors. I enjoyed my brief encounter with the Empire Cigar club as it gave me a taste of how politics and business actually worked.