Hudson Valley Pipe Club's Holiday Extravaganza and
The Northeast Regional Pipe Smoking Contest

December 9, 2006
By Tom Martin

My first annual pilgrimage to the Hudson Valley Holiday Extravaganza and Pipe Smoking Contest certainly lived up to my expectations. It was held at the S. M. Frank & Company, manufacturers of Kaywoodie, Yello-Bole and Medico brand, in Peeksill NY. After hours of driving we stopped at the I-84 Diner for brunch. With only thirty minutes of driving to go, I was excited to get there. Apparently not as excited as Dock, Steve as they passed us on the highway hell bent on Peekskill, obviously anxious to be the first of the Sherlock Holmes Pipe Smokers to arrive.

Clearing out of the diner took some time as we all had separate checks, but probably not as long if we had to figure out who owed what. While I was waiting I was speaking with a woman who was giving free "tattoos." Actually she was painting faces for the kids. Being a big kid, I wanted one and asked her if she ever heard of Sherlock Holmes and the case of the Rose Tattoo. She distracted me with a comment that I "had the face of a Pastor ." So instead of getting my face painted, I introduced to her my congregation: Mark, Tim, Eric, Tony, Rick, Nelson, Ken, Dock, and Greg.

I was a little concerned as we left the parking lot each headed different directions. Not a good sign, I thought. Some went for gas, others for beer, and Nelson and I , for both. We all met up again at the factory, the room all ready filled with pipe smoke, friends, and an air or camaraderie. It was also littered with pipes: pipes on display, pipes for sale, and pipes for smoking. It was a bit overwhelming for me, "the new guy."


My low budget helped to curb my enthusiasm for new pipe stuff, and focus an what was important, time well with friends. As an aspiring pipemaker, it was also exciting for me to rub elbows with some of the finest pipemakers in the States: Bill Feuerbach III, Joe Skoda, Rolando Negoita, and SHPC's Tim Hynick. I hoped some of the magic would rub off on me and was pleased to find that they shared freely with me information and support. Bill even toured a bunch of us through the workshop explaining to us the pipemaking process . Those who didn't take the tour, took the opportunity to drink all the beer.

 

I regret not getting the opportunity to meet Paul Bonaquisti as he is such a friend of the club, and I have heard so much about him and his pipes. From his new tobacco shop, he provided the Tobacco for this years Northeast Regional Pipe Smoking Contest. On behalf of the S. M. Frank Co, Bill made the contest pipes. I didn't much see the point in competitive pipe smoking, but now realize its about getting first dibs on all the door prizes and the winner does get placed in high esteem amongst his pipe smoking peers. After a great meal, we all got our Kaywoodie Contest Pipe, tobacco, and two matches.

I happened to sit between Steve, who was the contest winner in 2004, and Rick this years champ. As one of the first men out, I was still able to go home with a new U.P.C.A. shirt and a scorched tongue. Rick walked away with two trophies, one to keep, and one to pass along to next years winner. He also walked away with a new Kaywoodie Freehand and a lot of good memories I am sure. We all went home with a nice little Kaywoodie Rusticated Poker with Fishtail Stem, which no doubt Dock will swap out for a Churchwarden (stem).

 

Also new to our respective collections are: (Ken) Full Bent Clarence Mickles , (Eric) a Ser Jacopo LaFuma Red Dot Straight Grain, (Steve) An Ardor Mercurio, and a Ferndown Full Bent with Silver Band by Les Wood, (Tim) L'Anatra Rusticated Panel Freehand also with silver band, (Nelson) a Tim Hynick Stacked Poker with bark finish and Cumberland Stem, and (Dock) added a Kurt Balleby "Straight Grain, an S. Johnson Billiard, and his much coveted Lee Von Erck. And although I spent the days counting my pennies I managed to come home with a couple of estate pipes: a Barclay (Pipe & Tobacco) Sandblast, and a 2005 World Cup in Slow Pipe Smoking Rhodesian by Henryk Worobiec's who's pipes are almost legendary in Poland.

More importantly, I finished the day counting my blessings. Vern Vig had openly asked of the Sherlock Holmes Pipe Club of Boston, "what do we do to make the club a success?" The club is quite active and does a lot, but its not about what we do, its about who we are; a good bunch of great people, and you can't find that just anywhere. I am thankful to be a part of it. The ride home seemed twice as long and I pulled into my driveway about midnight. But before my head hit the pillow I was compelled to see if I'd won the eBay auction for the silver knight pipe stand. I did win the auction and sent payment right away. Am I sick? No, just the newest member of the Sherlock Holmes Pipe Club of Boston and crazy about pipes like the rest of them!

Pease be with you,  Tom

A Note of Thanks
I just wanted to thank Tom publicly for taking the time to write up this article. He's only been with the club for a couple of months and I'm truly grateful to see him rolling up his sleeves and jumping right in. I appreciate your efforts and I hope the pipe smoking public does as well. Nice Job.

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