By RON MALY
Bob Modersohn, one of the best photographers the paper here has ever had, responded this way to my recent essay about the late Buck Turnbull:
"Ron, I'm looking for the cigar up there in the drawing "
Some background information on that comment:
Like in so many other businesses in most of the 20th century, smoking was permitted in newspaper offices.
Heck, it wasn't an official newspaper unless people [both men and women] smoked cigarettes, cigars, pipes, whatever, while writing and editing stories.
Not everyone smoked. Just some. More didn't than did.
Leighton Housh, our longtime sports editor, smoked a pipe every day.
For a long time, my friend Buck Turnbull smoked cigarettes both inside and outside of the office.
Late in his career, he decided to quit cigarettes, and used cigars [unlit cigars] as a way to stop.
Here's how I answered Modersohn:
"You know what, Bob. I'm pretty sure Buck stuck those cigars in his mouth so it would help him quit smoking cigarettes.
"My desk was right next to Buck's, and I don't recall him ever lighting up the cigar.
"I was never a cigarette smoker, but I guess Buck thought having the unlit stogie in his mouth was one step in the right direction.
"He did manage to quit smoking.
"Right now, a good cigar, or even a bad cigar, and a shot or two of cognac sounds pretty damn good.to me."
* * *
[A few other things. I probably smoked no more than 4 or 5 cigarettes in my high school years. I didn't inhale the smoke from any of them. I tried to inhale the smoke from a cigarette one afternoon at the Iowa Memorial Union when I was a freshman at the University of Iowa. I thought I was going to die. I have never smoked a cigarette since. I do, however, like the smell of cigar smoke, and for a number of years I enjoyed smoking an occasional cigar. I never inhaled a cigar. Never. It didn't have to be a good cigar. One from Walgreen's [when Walgreen's still sold cigars] was good enough. It's been a long time since I smoked a cigar, either a good cigar or a bad cigar].