Back in the day…part II

This is the second in a three part series.  Check out “Back in the day…” part I here…


The rides back and forth from Tennessee to Texas were long, and on many of those trips, our Grandmother would pick us up or drop us off.  She and my grandfather were heavy smokers, and when they drove us on long trips, I spent a lot of time on the floorboard of the back seat trying not to suffocate from second-hand smoke.  Somehow, both Grandma and Grandpa believed that smoking was only enhanced if the windows were rolled UP, when you lit up!  Yep, Grandma and Grandpa were serious smokers.  Grandma smoked Vantage Menthol 100′s and Grandpa smoked L&M Golds, also 100′s.  After all, the only thing better than a cigarette is a long one, right?!?!?

I’d guess that they each smoked  close to two packs a day at their  peak.  That’s one every 24 minutes, folks.  Try it sometime, and you’ll feel like you’ve gone to hell – and smell like it, too!  We begged them to quit for a long time, and eventually Grandma did quit, when my sister told her that she couldn’t smoke around her first born.  Grandpa, who smoked where he pleased, when he pleased, was even relegated to the back-yard when he wanted to smoke after that first great-grandchild came along.

Wonderland of Lights - Marshall, Texas

Image courtesy WikiMedia.org

On our last trip down memory lane, we were in Jefferson, Texas at the Hamburger store.  Next up in among my favorite memories of yesteryear travels are the ‘Wonderland of Lights’ in Marshall, Texas.   Like Jefferson, Marshall is a small town along US 59.  In the mid-1980′s, Marshall city leaders worked to increase economic activity in the area and eventually came up with a plan to hold a Christmas light festival, now known as the ‘Wonderland of Lights’.  This festival is held annually, beginning around Thanksgiving through Christmas and boasts ALOT of Christmas lights, and brings ALOT of people to this otherwise, fairly small, unassuming east Texas town.

My Grandma was a BIG fan of Christmas decorations and lights.  She had all kinds over the years, white single mini-lights, several colors of icicles, and my personal favorite – the big multi colored ones.  There were several years, she would just leave them up for months after Christmas had come and gone.  I used to love coming home to Liberty in the winter and pulling down her street, only to be greeted by a new variety of Christmas lights.  When Grandma was shuttling us to Texas, she would time it so that we could get to see the ‘Wonderland of Lights’ in Marshall.  While I had spent the first 8 hours of the trip on the floorboard, I would come up for air when we got to Marshall to view the Christmas lights.  The display of lights there makes most others pale in comparison.  When the Marshall Courthouse is lit up, and the windows of the car are rolled down, it was a good time to be a kid.Anyway, back to the real topic on my mind: Smoking.  Not surprisingly, I picked up the ‘habit’ of smoking somewhere in my mid-teens and struggled to ‘lose’ that habit for a long time.   My heroes had always been cowboys, afterall, and it seemed that they all smoked!  I still have vivid memories of that mysterious place where cowboys sit atop their horses, dreaming of sleeping under the stars, a pretty wife, and all the vast amounts of mountainous land and livestock under their control.  Do you remember this place?   It is ‘Marlboro Country’, of course!  “Come to where the flavor is…”.  Is it any wonder that when I chose to become a ‘cowboy’, that my first cigarette of choice was a Marlboro Red? Those ads haven’t run for more than 10 years, but their imagery is still fresh in my mind.  Isn’t it a sad irony that the men who portrayed the ‘Marlboro Man’ died of lung cancer?  Hopefully, I won’t suffer the same fate.

I smoked on and off for more than 15 years.  Sometimes I would go a little while without smoking, and other times, I would try to single-handedly keep the tobacco industry afloat.  It wasn’t until I read the book ‘The Easy Way to Stop Smoking‘, suggested by a friend who was also reading it, that I was able to finally rid myself of this disgusting practice.   This book helps you look at the reasons why you smoke, not the reasons why you should quit.  Once the psychology of why you smoke sinks in, your mind begins to open up and view the stogies for what they are – a toxic crutch.   While you are reading the book you become disgusted at the thought of smoking, and each time you light up becomes short term death march than ‘relief’.  If you are struggling to ‘give up’ cigarettes, read that book, and by  the end of it, you will likely be smoke-free.  It is a very powerful, yet easy to digest message and method.  No patches or gum, medications, nasty withdrawals, or anything but a real understanding of why you smoke.  Get it?  It’s about why you smoke.

What does any of this have to do with camping, or even camping with Joe?  Well, I guess not whole lot, but once I became free from the bondage of nicotine (and yes, when I extinguished my last cigarette, I felt LITERALLY freed from bondage), I’ve resolved not to let Joe be positively influenced by the glorification of smoking, as I was.  Luckily, there are very few smokers in my circle (or anywhere else) these days.  Also, advertising and acceptance of smoking by peers and society at-large has drastically decreased, so lots of kids today will never start (or think to start) smoking.

But for those of you who do smoke:  Go behind the fence where you belong, and don’t be offended if Joe laughs at you and points a finger and says “You’ll get a black lung!!! hahahahaha!”.

And by all means, keep your butts off the trail!  To be continued…


Back in the day…part I (Jefferson Hamburger Store)
Back in the day…part II (Marshall Christmas Lights)
Back in the day…part III (Petit Jean State Park)

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