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As I See It

Passing Time As A Kid Included Smoking

Without being pessimistic reading the news this week would indicate a “bad news” week. Gasoline prices continue to soar, milk prices are up, produce prices are up, there is a shortage of  fruits and vegetables for the markets and if that is not bad enough Russia and the United States appear to be trying to start the cold war all over. Do you ever get tired of bad news? I do and therefore, I am going to give you a little humor in this column and hopefully it will help our feelings.     

As most of you know I grew up in Calhoun County near Sarepta. It was far enough back in the sticks that sunshine had to be piped in. Actually I would not take anything for growing up exactly where I did, but it was in the country to say the least.

I constantly hear young people complain about being bored and having nothing to do, while all the time electronic gadgets are buzzing all around them. Most of these young people feel that they have to be entertained at all times. No one entertained us while we were growing up. We entertained ourselves. When we got old enough to work in the fields we were busy most of the time and when we did get some free time we made use of it.

I grew up close to a cousin approximately my age and we were quite creative in our use of free time. We spent a lot of time riding down the hills in a “truck wagon” made by my father. For the benefit of my younger readers that was a little red wagon made of wood. How our bodies kept from being broken up I will never know because that wagon would go really fast down those hills.

As we grew older we decided to build us a cabin in the woods. Using old lumber we found, the cabin took shape and finally actually was a neat place to go even when it was raining. What do thirteen and fourteen year old boys do in a cabin? Well we again were creative. We discovered rabbit tobacco and “cross vines” or what I would term grape vines.     The rabbit tobacco was smoked using whatever kind of paper we could find to roll the tobacco in. No, the rabbit tobacco was not good, but again it was something to do. The vines were easy to smoke except for the fact that the fire traveled through the vines to the tongue. Not very pleasant!

When we really could afford to be grown-up, we would meet the “rolling store” and come up with a quarter between us to buy a sack of “North State” tobacco. We began to notice that the store had “ready rolled” menthol cigarettes, but for sure we did not have enough money for those.

Our solution to this problem was to sneak some rolling papers from the men who smoked and some Vicks Salve from the house. Now we had the ingredients to make our own menthol cigarettes.

The North State was mixed with the Vicks, rolled into a cigarette and lighted. Just as it was lighted, a blue flame came from the end of the cigarette. The Vicks became liquid and dripped everywhere. Suddenly we did not want a Menthol.

My advice to the young who might read this column is to continue to listen to the beeps  of your electronics. They pose less of a risk!  

“Billy McCord is a retired school administrator and an Elder in the United Methodist Church. He is Pastor of the Pittsboro and Shady Grove UM Churches in Calhoun County. He is a member of the Calhoun County School Board. Contact him:

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