This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt shows a happy lady, cigarette in hand. No doubt she was one of the cool kids.
I grew up when smoking anywhere and everywhere was widely accepted. However, smoking was for adults. When I was in school, most teens who smoked tried to hide it from their parents. But the more rebellious ones didn’t care. In fact, they were allowed to smoke out by the smoke stack behind the school. No doubt a school administrator with a sense of humor set that policy.
|Harry Escue on the right.|
I believe that is his son Emile, but I'm not sure.
Historically, smoking was the man’s domain. That might explain why my distant cousin’s husband Harry Escue proudly posed for a formal portrait with his favorite cigar in hand.
My grandfather Fred Slade, Sr. seemed always to have a cigarette too:
|Fred Slade as a young man farming|
and smoking on the job 1919
|Cigarette in the ashtray|
|I guess Granddaddy wasn't|
worried about ashes falling
on that sweet baby's head.
|Granddaddy Slade smoking in an orange grove|
The same can be said of Granddaddy Davis and my own father, but alas, no proof in photos.
By the 1920s, the first wave of women’s liberation brought women smokers out of the closet. But in the colleges, women were to be ladies. At Harrisonburg Teachers College (now James Madison University - Go Dukes!), smoking was expressly forbidden. In fact, the no-smoking rule extended even to traveling for the holidays between home and school although I do not know how that rule was enforced or what the punishment might have been.
|Leta LeVow 1925|
Harrisonburg Teachers College
Yet here is my great-aunt Velma Davis Woodring’s college roommate sitting IN her underwear, ON the dresser IN their dorm room, with a cigarette. That blurred hand must have just put out the match.
My mother was also one of the cool college-age smokers.
In fact, she smoked Pall Mall until a few years before her death in 2005. When and why she quit is a mystery. She never announced her intentions to quit. She never complained about withdrawal or expressed a desire for a cigarette. She just quit. Out of the blue. I wasn’t even aware she was quitting. One day I noticed she wasn’t smoking. I didn’t hear the familiar inhale-exhale when we spoke on the telephone. She had quit for good. Daddy was banished to the garage whenever he needed to smoke.
He was also known to smoke in the car, the very one Daughter #1 at about age 5 dubbed “a smoker’s car.” She even informed her younger sister, “We’re going for a ride in a smoker’s car.”
As for me, I’ve never smoked and have never been tempted to sneak a drag. I remember watching television the night reporters were all abuzz over the latest research connecting smoking and cancer. I took those reports seriously.
But that didn’t stop us from enjoying candy cigarettes and pretending to smoke.
|My sister -- too cool for school in those Go-Go boots!|
While we loved candy cigarettes, she is holding
a REAL cigarette.
If you’re ready for a cigarette break or just a break in general, please visit my friends at Sepia Saturday.