Children Smoking In The 1930’s


My Mother was a Saint; she must have been to have put up with me and my smoking. Yeah, I was a hard core smoker when I was around 11-12 years old. Cigarettes? Oh no, could not afford them, but there was other good smoking materials just laying around for the taking.

Dry cedar bark crushed and rolled up in a cigar shape in a piece of newspaper or printed circular worked just fine. However, there was one teeny little problem that was a dead give away.

Take a puff and the cedar bark and newspaper wrapping flared up; usually slightly singeing my eye brows.

When Mother saw my burned eye brows, she would kindly ask if I had been smoking.

Of course I said “no”, and then the fire works began. First she wanted to know why I had told her a fib. About the same time she also delivered a powerful slap on my rear end with her hand, leaving me wondering how she knew I lied. (Years later I figured out the eye brow singeing bit).

Dried grape vines were also a source of smokes. Just break off a small piece of vine about 6 inches long and light up for a strange experience. The core of the vine was hollow which allowed the heated smoke to enter your mouth.

Grape vines would also flare up at times, giving Mother another shot at my behind. (She later told me how much spanking me hurt her hand because many times there was some type of hard object in a rear pocket.)

Then there was my friend Edward whose Dad worked at the Piggly Wiggly grocery store. His Dad smoked an old pipe that he usually filled with crushed cigars that had grown stale enough to be given to an employee or thrown away.

Edward would borrow, without his Dad’s knowledge, a box of those cigars and hide it under a large rock on the hill behind his house. We would manfully light up and puff away, not inhaling of course, but we never acknowledge that fact. I don’t think we ever finished smoking one, three or four puffs served to show how tough we were.

Back in the 1930’s almost everyone smoked. I doubt the tobacco was as bad for our bodies as is that of today where so many chemicals are used. Doesn’t matter of course, smoking is a bad thing.

I quit smoking, cold turkey, in 1973; it seemed I grew tired of coughing up that yellow stuff in the morning. Or, perhaps I just decided enough was more than too much in the case of tobacco. A letter my son in junior high wrote was primarily responsible for my decision to stop smoking.

In late 2005, I found myself with a good case of lung cancer as a direct result of my excessive smoking. After two thirds of my right lung was removed, followed by chemo, I find myself in remission for these past two and a half years.

But as a teen ager, I really, really thought I was hot stuff with that cigarette dangling from my lips. Too bad it takes us so long to get over that thinking!


Source by Herman Adcox

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