The wind whistled through the trees telling everyone that winter would soon arrive. The tall trees that provided shade throughout the summer were shedding their coats of color. The men were getting ready to kill pigs and the women were getting ready to work up all the meat. Wash pots were being cleaned and made ready to cook the cracklings used in making cornbread. It was a busy time of the year just preparing for the cold months ahead.
At the edge of the yard there sat a small wooden building used to keep all the hams, fat meat for seasoning and other pork meats. Long vats were filled with salt used to preserve the pieces of meat. It was called the smoke house. Every winter the owners would light up a wood burning heater and burn hickory wood to give the meat the hickory taste that everyone liked. The little house would be filled with thick smoke for a long time to allow the meat to absorb the smoke. When the meat was removed from the smoke house it smelled and tasted just like the hickory smoke.
Boxes of wooden matches were kept in the kitchen area for all fire uses. They were only allowed to be used by the adults in the family in order to prevent unwanted fires in the area and a host of other accidents.
The main house was a large two story wooden house that had been in the family for decades. Many little footsteps had been heard coming down the winding stairs that led to the family room. It was in this house that a young boy named Andrew Middleton lived with his parents, brothers and sisters. Now Andy as the family called him, was a very curious young boy. He was eleven years of age and had watched his father smoke a pipe for years. He thought it was cool to see the rings of smoke rise into the air and had wanted a pipe of his own for a very long time. In fact he had put it on his list for Santa for several years but had not received it. He often wondered why Santa forgot the pipe when all the other things on the list had been given.
It was during this cool weather that Andy decided to borrow his father’s pipe and steal a few puffs. He carefully pinched some tobacco from the tin box and put in his jeans pocket. Tucking the pipe inside his jacket he made his way to the kitchen to borrow a handful of matches. He wanted to be sure he had enough just in case the wind caused the tobacco to be hard to light. Now he was ready to leisurely make his way out to the barn. He felt sure he could hide in one of the horses stalls and not be seen. A big smile crept across his face as he stepped hurriedly towards the barn.
Suddenly a voice called out. “Andy if you are heading to the barn, please check the chicken nest for eggs and bring them back when you come.” His mother called out.
Andy gave a wave of his hand allowing his mother to know he had heard her request and would get the eggs upon his return.
He found a stall in the back of the barn and made himself a sitting spot in the far corner. Pulling out the tobacco from his pocket, he filled the pipe packing it tightly like he had seen his father do. He used an old rusty wagon wheel to ignite the matches. He puffed and puffed to get the tobacco in the pipe smoking. Thoughts and dreams filled his head as the smoke rose to the top of the barn. His head felt a little weird as he continued to inhale the smoke like he had seen his father do.
“Gosh I am feeling a bit dizzy. Perhaps I should have eaten something before I tried this.” He mumbled quietly.
Dreams of being a real man and being able to shoot a pig in the head filled his mind. Now he felt like a real man just like his father. Smoking was a man thing and now he felt like a real man. Thinking his father might be going into the house soon, he dumped out the tobacco and headed to the hen’s nest.
“Dang my stomach feels sick!” He whispered to himself as he grabbed a basket to put the eggs into. “Dad never complained about feeling sick when he smoked! Maybe I am allergic to the tobacco.”
He gathered the eggs and headed to the house. Each step he took the dizzier his head felt. Then he began to cough and his nose became stuffed. He wiped his face with a handkerchief hoping to clear his eyes and nose. Upon entering his house he noticed his mother was dusting the furniture in the den. He had to hurry and find a way to put the pipe back before anyone noticed it was missing. He sat the eggs in the kitchen and plopped down in his father’s chair. It would be easier to reach into his jacket pocket and return the pipe when his mother’s back was turned.
The return was successful but Andy was not feeling well at all. He felt as if he would vomit so he decided to stretch out on the couch for a while. Perhaps it would pass quickly, he would feel better, and no one would be the wiser.
After dinner Andy’s father sat down in his chair and picked up his pipe for a smoke. He quickly noticed tobacco left inside the pipe. He knew he always removed any tobacco after he finished using it.
“Who has been using my pipe?” He asked.
There was silence in the room.
“I know someone in this house has been tampering with my pipe. So whoever is the guilty party had better speak up or everyone will be grounded for two weeks.” His father spoke firmly.
So it came to be that Andy finally confessed to smoking his father’s pipe or he would have been beaten terribly by his brothers. He was the only one grounded and he promised never to touch the pipe again.
“Smoking is a very bad habit and I do not want any of my children to take up my bad habits.” His father lectured. “It causes a number of health problems. If I had known this when I was young I would have never started smoking. It causes lung problems, heart problems and a myriad of other health issues. Take it from one who knows. Smoking is a terrible habit that is harder to break than using drugs. I do not want my children doing any of these things. As long as you live here you will not do them. If you move out, then your life is not in my hands. I have to answer to God for teaching you right from wrong and this is one thing that is very wrong for anyone. This is a very serious warning to each of you.” He continued.
Andy took his father’s advice because he knew his father was an honest man.
Everyone has vices in life and bad habits come daily to each of us. Smoking is on the decline all over the world, but some people are still lighting up. Why? The answer is addiction.
There are no physical reasons to start smoking. The body doesn’t need tobacco the way it needs food, water, sleep, and exercise. Many of the chemicals in cigarettes, like nicotine and cyanide, are actually poisons that can kill in high enough doses. They kill very slowly in smaller doses like cigarettes smoked daily.
The body is smart. It goes on the defense when it’s being poisoned. People who smoke for the first time often feel pain or burning in the throat and lungs, and some people feel sick or even throw up the first few times they try tobacco. The body is trying to tell you something important.
Staying smoke free will give you a whole lot more of everything — more energy, better performance, better looks, more money in your pocket, and, in the long run, more life to live! Don’t let you body smell like a smoke house and don’t let it become like a piece of smoked meat!
Be smart just say “I don’t do it!” You might inspire someone else to follow in your footsteps!
Question: Why do people smoke?
Written by Sybil Shearin
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