Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Past Due Tuesday; "Coffee Table" lighter.
Picture this... A beautiful coffee table filled with hors d'oeuvres, a bowl of mixed nuts, some flowers, large photography books on Paris and The Opera Houses of Europe, a tray of cigarettes and this lighter. My Mother's lighter.
It's sometime in the 1950's. Mom and Dad are having a party. Guests arrive. Coats are carried to the bedroom, everyone is handed a drink of choice and the room fills with cigarette smoke and laughter.
Later there is a wonderful dinner and the talking and laughing continues. My sister and I have gone to bed and I listen to the happiness of my parents friends enjoying themselves. It is a common scene in our house.
Mom's sits down at the piano and starts to play The Whiffenpoof Song and then, Time After Time. Someone comes over and starts to sing. Then another .., and soon a group forms around the piano and someone starts harmonizing. It's a warm and happy memory that has stayed inside of me after all these years. Even the cigarette smoke has become a part of this memory. I still love the smell of it.
Dad never smoked, but my mother did..., from just after high school to around 40 years of age. It was socially acceptable and she never thought about the consequences of smoking until she was in her late 30's and kept getting Bronchitis.
When she passed away this summer, she had damaged lungs and breathing problems that were irreparable. She could not have anticipated the damage that those years of smoking did to her.
So , I have mixed feelings about this little lighter. It's beautiful and it was always on our coffee table, as far back as I could remember..., but it represents a time when smoking was done without a moment of thought..., when life was all about "After the WAR" and "Aren't we glad it's over." and having a good time. It was about buying a "pack" with "filters" and which brand was the best tasting.
This lighter was a Ronson. It was a popular maker of cigar and cigarette lighters back then. The pattern was"Queen Anne" . You filled it with lighter fluid through the bottom, unscrewing the small bolt that said "fill here" and tipping the can of lighter fluid into it. I got to do it a few times with my Dad watching me carefully. It came with green felt on the bottom to protect the table. I loved pushing the top down and watching the flame appear.
You would think that all of this "taking care of the lighter" would have lead to wanting to try a cigarette and it did once or twice, but I actually didn't like smoking so I never formed the "habit" others did. I do remember carrying candy cigarettes in my pocket and "pretending" when I was little. Do they even make those anymore?
An advertisement at the time said....
"Why Miss Anne Gould, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jay Gould, prefers Camels" With a picture of a lovely, wealthy heiress smoking a cigarette and looking very sophisticated and stylish.
And the small print says..."Why do I smoke Camels? Because I honestly like their taste better than any of the other cigarettes," says Miss Gould."Like most of the girls I know, I prefer a mild cigarette -- that's another reason I am devoted to Camels. Besides, I see no reason for letting cigarettes make you nervous -- Camels never make me edgy or jumpy."And I really believe you could smoke Camels forever and ever and not get tired of their fine, smooth flavor."
No one knew any better then. It was the "cool" thing to do. It was what "smart" women wanted. It was fashionable. ..., and still, today, the charade goes on. At least now, women can MAKE A CHOICE with all the scary information "on the table"..., not a dish of cigarettes and a lighter.
Please join Roomies: Past Due Tuesday and share your vintage items with us. It's fun. It's interesting..., and you'll learn things you never knew before. This is a brand new vintage venue for all your wonderful old things. Join us won't you?