Tuesday, May 26, 2015

How Dad Quit Smoking

My Dad was a cigarette smoker until sometime in the late 1960's.  He started smoking in his late teens, as was common with young men of his generation.  He usually smoked Lucky Strikes, which was a popular, "manly" cigarette, known for (and valued due to) its high tar and nicotine.

I suspect that it's probably nearly impossible for youngsters to believe, but in those days you could buy a pack of cigarettes from a vending machine.

Those letters on the bottom - LS/MFT say
Lucky Strike/Means Fine Tobacco
Remembering this I realize that it was very odd that these machines existed as parents would send their kids to the store for cigarettes, but only if they gave them a note to show to the cashiers.  And the cigarettes were stored in a location that was not accessible to customers - you had to ask for them.

Perhaps the machines were not considered a problem as they were usually only located in places where children were not commonly present, like bars, workplaces, bowling alleys, veterans' organizations, gas stations and suchlike.

And cigarettes were really cheap in those days too.  When I first became aware of their cost, I'm pretty sure that they were 25₵ a pack.  Yes, just a quarter.

OK, so what's all this got to do with Dad and how he quit smoking?  I think this story says a lot about Dad's personality - his pride, his determination and his resolve.

One day, in the late 1960's, Dad, who was a manager at Delco-Moraine, in charge of the production lines which made most of the disc-brake parts used in GM vehicles. was talking to his friend and employee, Ruben.  Ruben was a jobsetter - his duties were to relieve other workers, do minor repairs and help out when someones station backed up or they had some problem.

And, in the course of their conversation, one or the other said, "Hey, I need a pack of cigarettes."  The other said, "Me too."

So they walked over to the vending machine.  Arriving there, they discovered that they had just raised the price from  25₵ to 30₵.

"G-d d-mn it!" Dad said, "I'm not paying 30₵ for a pack of cigarettes!"

Reasonably, Ruben replied, "But Bill, what choice do you have?"  He laughed, "What are you going to do?  Stop smoking?"

"H-ll, yes.  I'll quit.   I'm not paying 30₵ for a d-mn pack of cigarettes!"

And he never did.