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Thursday, October 15, 2020

The Museum Minute: Relax and have a cigar

Here, a woman stands in the
doorway of Heck Cigar Shop
in Rich Hill

Bates County Tobacco Barns, Cigar Makers, and Smoking

As late as the 1930's Bates County tobacco was being grown in the fertile soil near the Marais des Cygnes River. My mother said when she was a girl there were big long tobacco barns along the river bottoms just north of Rich Hill and they could be seen from the highway. Tobacco farming was a profitable venture and for a time, there were cigar makers in the county who profited even more by rolling fine cigars that gentlemen often enjoyed. Not only were cigars smoked by the rough and tumble miners and workers back in the day, but polite society also indulged. Gentlemen sharing a fine cigar together were often the beginning of an almost ritualistic encounter where an array of matters could be discussed and decisions made.

There was an art to enjoying a smoke. Of course those days are long gone now that we have become so much more sophisticated and are aware of the health dangers. Today, we indulge in junk food, energy drinks, sugared sodas, and every kind of chemical additive imaginable. I suspect future generations will look at our societal habits and wonder ‘why’.

Personally, I always enjoyed being in the presence of pipe tobacco smoke. My dad smoked a pipe. Usually he smoked Sir Walter Raleigh, but Cherry tobacco scent was near heavenly. I’ve always believed that smell is the most evocative of the senses. On very rare occasions I will, still yet, be around a gentleman smoking a pipe, catch a whiff of smoke, and a veil to the past opens. Time stands still for just a moment… -our thanks to Peggy Buhr, Curator

Butler Opera cigars were manufactured by E. E. Moots.These items are on display on the tobacco shelf in the General Store room at the Bates County Museum.