Cigar Events: Lifestyle Wally’s Cigar Shop
For years we smoked at Wally’s , a well established landmark wine store in West LosAngeles. It also had a small building which was the cigar wing with an extensive humidor that lined both walls, and a counter to pay for your items.
Wally’s cigars was perhaps 20 x 10for the whole building yet we packed the place with 10 -15cigar souls that were crammed into the available space . We lined chairs and there was a permanent barber chair attached to the floor. You could claim the barber chair if you got there first. The beauty of Wally’s was from 11 am – 8 pm there was always someone there or if not, you could chew the fat with Paulwho ran the cigar shop.
Paulwas a unique individual , very cheerful, friendly but with two bad habits which eventually helped lead to his demise, alcohol and cigarettes. Paul easily smoked 3 packs a day and with a daily consumption of 12-18 cans a beer , he was destined for a shortened life span. Everyone liked Paul, he was a great guy with plenty of stories about growing up in Los Angeles. He knew what kind of path he was going down but did it without remorse.
The Godfather of Wally’s was Morty Grossman, a retired garment district salesman who discovered acting later in life. Morty also had great stories, told them as only a NewYorkercould and managed to make a nice little career doing small roles in commercials and movies. You could see his work in a movie called Shade starring Sly Stone.Morty died much too young but his life was never dull.
The crew filled up with a total melting pot of individuals from all countries. The Persiancontingent included David,who constantly talked about owning a tiger.
We had several comrades who were well-known in the movies behind the camera. You might know their names if you followed the technical end of the business. They knew all the players from Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor and Omar Sharif. The TV end was also well represented with actors, producers and writers.
There were members of the group who had no place to go , so they hung at Wally’s.
Some were pathological liars but smoked cigars, so they too were part of the mix.
There were also occasional passers-by who smoked with us but we never knew what they did or did we really care. We did not kick anyone out of the group but some left on their own accord.
Yet , most of the crew were not famous or knew the famous but just regular people who made Wally’stheir cigar stop , just about anytime of the day.
Wally’swas the stop we all made but sometimes things happen and you can’t do anything about it.
A customer who came in to buy cigars for her husband , complained to the owner about all the cigar smoke and all the men hanging out in the store.
Shocking you would find people smoking cigars in a cigar store but we were asked not to smoke inside anymore. As a gesture we were given a table with an umbrella next to Wally’sand made that our new home. We dubbed it “crack alley” for the undesirable activity that happened there at night. The alley was swept every morning by Paulso it was still the best place to go for cigar behavior and talk. It was still our meeting place on a daily basis.
As the world changes , so did Wally’sand eventually the building was turned into a cheese shop and our presence was no longer needed or welcomed. Wallystills remains as a high-end wine store and cheese store.
The cigar smoke that sometimes blinded customers that came out of the wine store is long gone.