Mike's Brookline News & Gifts
The Gold Leaf Tobacconist
Seabrook, NH

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Mike's Brookline News and Gifts - Brookline, MA

On December 27th, Rick Frederics and I met up with Don Powers at Mike's Brookline News and Gifts before heading North to The Gold Leaf Tobacconist in Seabrook, NH. This was my first visit to Mike's and I had heard many good things about it from the others who visit often, for example the wide selection of pipes including Dunhill, Peterson, radice, Stanwell and Charatan plus a huge assortment of accessories and tobacco related items, some of which date back many years. But more importantly I've heard how generous Mike is towards the members of the Sherlock Holmes Pipe Club. Your first thought when walking through the door is "Wow!" as you look around in amazement. To the left of the entrance on the wall just below a signed photograph of Bill Clinton's visit to Mike's was a framed yellowing newspaper clipping that started out something like this, "When you walk into Mikes the shelves, racks and cases are so filled with merchandise that there is hardly enough room for the customers." This is no exaggeration of the truth and numerous times each one of us had to jockey for position to allow customers to pass. The counter is piled so high with items for sale that you sometimes can't see or hear the soft spoken owner when he's talking to you. On the high shelves behind the counter are what I'd call artifacts from the past, many still for sale at the original prices. Old Kaywoodie Pipes on the original cardboard display, General MacArthur corncobs and an old pipe rack for three of your favorite clays. Below that was a wallsize cabinet filled with pipes ranging from economical to expensive and in all shapes and sizes. You could find some of the nicer pipes in the main case under counter just as you walk in the entrance and if you didn't see the pipe or brand you were looking for all you had to do was ask Mike. Quietly he would disappear behind racks and under display cases revealing another box or two of pipes that more closely suited your taste. There was a decent selection of tinned tobacco and if you didn't see what you wanted, Mike would resurrect it from the storage room below (which I hear has as much merchandise as the main store). There were old ads, signs and novelty items on the walls and hanging from the ceiling. We even found one of Sid's own self-made novelty items displayed for the humorous enjoyment of all who entered. And speaking of Sid, he and Ted Blank showed up at Mikes while we were there. It was just like "Old Home Week." Unfortunately though, today's visit would not be the same as other visits, in fact, this was to be our last visit to Mike's who had decided to sell the business after being in operation by his family for over 40 years. His last day was to be December 29th (or thereabouts). We soon learned from Mike that there had been some complications with the sale and that it may be as late as April before the store ownership changes hands. Although this is an unfortunate turn of events for Mike it does give the rest of us the opportunity to take part in a piece of history, a taste of the past and a soon to be bygone era. If you've never been to Mike's, now's your chance. I you haven't been in a while, stop by soon before it's too late. Call a friend or two and make an afternoon of it, it will definitely be worth your while.

The Gold Leaf Tobacconist, Seabrook, NH
It was about 1:30 and we started making our way through the back roads and sides streets of Brookline and the surrounding towns towards route 95 and The Gold Leaf Tobacco Shop in Seabrook, NH. We were planning to meet up with Tim Hynick who is a regular patron of the Gold Leaf and his visiting brother-in-law, also a fellow pipe smoker. When we arrived we found Tim and company already there and puffing happily, Tim on a favorite briar while his brother-in-law smoked a beautiful Tim Hynick, hand carved briar that Tim made him for a Christmas present. There was a crowd of people in the store surrounding a table in the middle of the sitting area and pawing over the numerous boxes of pipes that covered it's top. Something seemed vaguely familiar about this feeding frenzy like behavior, I know I've seen it before. Then it all came clear when the man sitting in the chair in front of me puffing a cigar turned around and said hello. It was our own Kenny Kasparian doing what he does best "delivering the pipes." We all said our hellos and shared our Christmas stories before checking out the rest of the shop. The owner, Joe was a very personable guy that looked like he could have just stepped out of the old west. Just to be sure, I glanced towards the front window to see if there was a horse tied up to the hitching post. Dressed in a white shirt, black vest and sporting a mustache that could easily see twisted into a handlebar I knew there had to be six shooter somewhere under the counter. As a matter of fact I do believe he is involved in some sort of Wild West type shooting competitions. Joe was also smoking a very nice Paronelli pipe with a black and silver band and enamel design. A truly unique and impressive pipe. While talking to Joe he mentioned that he had been to one of our meetings a few years back but because of the distance the meetings are hard to attend monthly.
The Gold Leaf had and extensive supply of cigars, a wall rack of economy pipes and one case of higher quality pipes including a couple of Dunhill's, Peterson's and a Rick Hacker pipe. It 's too bad he didn't have another one of those Paronelli's or I'd be smokin' it now. They had a fair amount of tobacco and all the accessories you need but more importantly they had a few nice high back leather chairs to relax in and smoke your pipe.

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