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Pipe Dreams

January 21, 2010

Chris Garlasco, Owner & Managing Partner - Founders Insurance Group

Last summer, while on a motorcycle ride along the beautiful Maine coastline, I stopped at a local smoke shop and decided to purchase a pipe. As a twenty year, recreational cigar smoker, I have flirted with the pipe on and off over the years. On this trip, while walking hand in hand with my wife up the steps of the magnificent lighthouse at “Owl’s Head,” I finally understood the attraction to pipes that my father had in his younger years. It wasn’t about smoking as much as it was about relaxation.

Over the later portion of the summer I began collecting a few pipes and reading as much as I possibly could. I soon came across a wonderful book by pipe enthusiast and collector, Rick Newcombe entitled “In Search of Pipe Dreams.” Through books like Rick’s and countless web sites, I learned of this passionate underground culture of pipe collectors, smokers and “mom and pop” blending artisans. I had no idea that this centuries old hobby had such committed enthusiasts. Truthfully, I thought of pipe smokers as old men like my grandfather. I associated it with the evils of smoking and of cheap drug store tobacco. What I found instead was art. I learned of the great Danish Masters like Lars Ivarsson or Jess Chonowitsch, whose pipes sell moments after they are up for sale, often bringing in more than a couple thousand dollars. The rich history of outstanding pipe companies like Italy’s Castello, England’s Dunhill and Ireland’s Peterson are still alive and well to this very day. I learned that countries like those mentioned as well as Japan, Germany and a growing segment in America are represented at pipe shows throughout the world. I learned that some collectors don’t even smoke while others would think nothing of spending more than $500 on a pipe and lighting it as soon as humanly possible. I would have never imagined that pipes and pipe smoking have brought together friendships of all nationalities.

Maybe I am just attracted to obscure, greatly misunderstood groups. I ride a motorcycle for the passion, not because I wish to be in a drunken gang or have a deep fear of bathing. I smoke a pipe for relaxation that may be a health threat on one hand, but by relaxing and taking perspective on life may actually cause me to live longer. I work in an industry that seems to garner lots of negative press while helping countless thousands restore their financial well being every day. I believe in all of these causes. Contrary to those that always seem to know what’s best for others, I am happy with my choices. Insurance is a noble industry. For everyone that feels that they have been wronged, I can point to thousands that have experienced the opposite outcome. In all three of these instances, the minority often times cannot “outshout” the majority. I now wonder what other of life’s misunderstood causes await me.

Lastly, a note to my pipe collecting friends, be sure to insure those collections properly. I know where you can find a good agent!

Have a great day!

Chris Garlasco

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Bridget Beauchaine permalink
    January 21, 2010 12:32 pm

    Chis, reading this made me think of my great grandfather and the many pipes that he had. I can still see the table top pipe holder that held his treasured pipes. Fond memories of the past!

  2. Chris permalink
    January 21, 2010 1:12 pm

    Thanks for the comment Bridget! My understanding is that pipe smoking is now on the rise again, but let’s keep that quite for fear of the smoking police LOL! It seems to have found a niche with some of the college kids. If you or your family still have his pipes, they could be worth quite a bit. I understand why he treasured them. In a strange sort of way one develops a “relationship” with some of them!

  3. January 25, 2010 8:07 am

    I saw the link to your blog re-tweeted by a local Insurance agent here in Albany, and I figured that since I was not in the insurance business, it wouldn’t relate to me. Funny as it may be, I also have a passion for motorcycles. It is great to find others that don’t need to be drunk or dirty to ride. I just wrote this morning about a motorcycle trip I took last summer and how I am missing warmer weather.

    Thanks for sharing this, and I look forward to hearing more about your motorcycle adventures.

    • Chris permalink
      January 25, 2010 1:32 pm

      Our marketing director has been after me to post some of my motorcycle journals and just haven’t gotten to it. I have ridden 46 states and hope to complete all fifty soon. I love the idea that you are writing about your trips. It’s nice to have something to review over the cold winter. Stay Vertical!

  4. February 26, 2010 12:22 pm

    Great info!

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