It was 1959 and I was badgering my grandfather to quit smoking. I scolded and pleaded, using all of the arguments from the Surgeon General including the danger of lung cancer, heart problems, coughing, etc.
He listened patiently and then told me one of his stories. It was 1906. He and his little family consisting of wife, and two year old daughter were living in the Mojave Desert on a mining claim miles from the nearest town. Their supplies came in by train once a month, and it involved an all-day wagon trip to the train depot.
Like most men at that time he smoked hand-rolled cigarettes and a pipe. The Bull Durham tobcco came in a little cotton sack with thin cigarette papers that had to be filled with tobacco and rolled into a cigarette. It took some skill to roll an acceptable smoke.
As the time between train shipments passed, most supplies dwindled down and there was no way to replace them until the next train arrived, "Daddy Bill's Bull Durham included.
Finally, the day arrived when he was down to his last sack of tobacco and the train was over a week away. "Emma," he said "this is a nasty habit and not worth the bother and agravation. I'm going to quit!"
Of course, in 1906, he had no idea of the health issues. Smoking was an accepted practice enjoyed by most men. (just watch some of the classic movies) Fortunately, the ladies of the time were not included. Therefore, his incentive to stop smoking was the inconvenience, not his health.
Decision made, the easiest and surest way to quit was to remove the temptation. How did he do it? Well, he went hunting early every morning and when he hiked up to the highest ridge, he tossed the contents of his last sack of tobacco to the winds. By that afternoon, he was regretting his action. The next day, he was desperate. The following day found him searching on his hands and knees for any bits of tobacco that might be caught at the base of bushes and rocks. Unsuccessfully, he added.
Finally, the train shipment came in and with it his supply of Bull Durham. Chuckling, Daddy Bill told me, "So you see, Nadine, I did quit smoking for over a week, and never tried to do it again!"
I decided to share this little Vignette from the stories I am writing about the years my grandparents and great grandmother spent at the California Gold and Copper Company Mine in the Mojave Desert 1906-1915.
"Daddy Bill's experience with trying to quit smoking seems pertinent to the efforts some of our Sparks members are dealng with today. He didn't have the information or assistence now available and failed in his attempt. Such is not now the case. It is possible to stop smoking and probably one of the most important changes one can make.