Showered and ready by 6:30 I hopped in the F150 and made my way to Scituate to meet up with Dante at his beautiful First Cliff home. While Dante finished getting ready I walked out on his back terrace and watched the sun rising over the Atlantic. It was a perfect day for our ride to New York for the 5th Annual and long overdue Meeting of the Mindless at Paul Bonaquisti's; a truly singular event which has become an increasingly popular gathering of members and guests from both the Hudson Valley and Sherlock Holmes Pipe Clubs.

We picked up Tim at our usual Rt. 128 meeting spot and headed West on the Pike to our next rendezvous point at Bickford's in Auburn. After connecting with Steve and Sandy we ordered breakfast while waiting for the uncharacteristically tardy Jay and Andy to arrive. We had finished breakfast and walked outside before they showed up so we decided to go on ahead while they had breakfast. The roads were clear and the weather was beautiful and we made it to Paul's in great time. Well most of us did anyway. It seems we can't do a Meeting of the Mindless trip without some or all of us getting lost. But that's a story for another day.

This year was a bit different from previous years. Normally we'd meet in February or March and hang out in Paul's shop behind his house. We were always fortunate to have decent enough weather to barbecue outside but nothing like the weather today. This was one day and one event where we didn't mind smoking outdoors and we did it of our own free will. Everyone was excited about the Feats of Strength competition that was planned for later and Jay and Andy brought the "red dress" but who would be wearing it this year?

A couple of first timers to MOTM were long time pipe man Mel Feldman and pipe maker Rolando Negoita. Mel came well stocked with an interesting assortment of estate pipes for sale which included many Dunhills and Barlings, and a couple of boxes filled with carved figural pipes that he was selling for a friend. I never realized there were that many briar figurals out there. He had pipes carved in the likeness of JFK, Ronald Regan, Lucifer and assorted historical characters. There were pipes that looked like boots, dogs, deer and even a football. He also had a number of intricately carved older fashioned pipes resembling the old clay pipes. It was a fascinating collection and kept the guys entertained for quite a while.

Now if you've read the latest addition of P&T magazine then I don't need to tell you about Rolando Negoita. Originally from Romania he is now living in the Hudson Valley area where he has made quite a name for himself in the pipe making community for his beautifully carved, original design pipes. Inspired by nature, Rolando's creations bring a refreshing and welcome change to what we're used to seeing in pipes. He is a quiet, easy going man and it was a real pleasure meeting and talking with him. In addition to pipes, Rolando also makes jewelry and knives. If you'd like to see more of his work you can check out his website.

It wasn't too long before Paul had the grill fired up for the first round of eats and the smell of sausage was a welcome accompaniment to the symphony of tobacco scents that were already dancing around in the light breeze. There was plenty beer, drink and snacks to keep us content as the natural course of events gravitated us into unsorted small groups to discuss the various aspects of our favorite subject... pipes, tobacco and all things related. The guys from Boston were still feeling the bitter effects of the newly passed state law that will prevent them from holding their monthly meetings where they have been for more than 10 years. We all voiced our opinions about the smoking bans (none of them good) and the grim future of the tobacco industry. But as long as we can still come together as brothers (and sisters) as we are today and enjoy our smoke in any form we should live by the philosophy of Carpe Diem, "Seize the Day"; the enjoyment of the pleasures of the moment without concern for the future.

It felt as though the day had only started but in fact the day had flown by and the time our group had agreed to leave was fast approaching. But before we left we all participated in the MOTM sporting events. This years sporting festivities were much more organized and broader in scope than in previous years. Finally included was the long awaited "briar bowling" tournament. Sweaty contestants lined up for one chance at rolling a large 15 pound briar bowling burl at beer cans lined up in a pyramid formation (and by now we had plenty of cans for the Bowlingcompetition). It was not as easy as it looked, especially since the beer cans were set up in front of an angry nest of hornets and many contestant missed the cans completely. Someone suggested killing the hornets with starter fluid but all attempts were futile (maybe they should have used finishing fluid instead). Although our own Jay Beard, using ancient wind direction techniques, came very close to taking the victory, good sport "big" Dick Somer won by squashing all but one of the beer cans. Dick won a vintage 1/2 pound can of Peretti tobacco for his efforts, and afterward explained to the one person listening how "applied physics and the proper angle of approach all but guaranteed the outcome.

The briar shot put event, which did not go over well, was won by the one and only contestant, Paul Bonaquisti and who has decided to retire undefeated.

Another look at the watch told us it was time to go. Disappointed that we could not compete in the "Feats of Strength" competition scheduled for later on in the evening, we gathered our things and said our good-byes, then pointed the car east and headed on our way all the while reminiscing the day’s events. But wait there's more.....

MOTM5 (After Hours Activities)                                                                        contributed by Paul Bonaquisti
The "Feats of Strength" competition, which commenced at 10:00 pm sharp was again a resounding success. Andy Camire (who is always the odds on favorite) won yet again this year. Employing the same tactics he used to win in all the previous years, Paul, Bill, Jay, Bawb, Dick, and Rob found out how difficult it is to lift heavy objects and bend steel bars while staring at a grown man in a red dress... Thanks to Andy, they also know what it feels like to have beer shooting out of their nose.

Bill Feuerbach, Jay Beard and myself also competed in a new event which will become known as the "empty bottle" competition. The rules of play are as follows: I go in to my house and bring out every bottle of alcohol that is less than a quarter full, and we all proceed to empty the bottles until someone cries "no mas!". (or is unable to continue) This years event was a draw, mainly because I ran out of booze. Next year will be different however, Bill and I have already started practicing...

Until next year, smoke (and drink) in peace!
PB"


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Thanks Paul for your contributions and enhancements to the Sporting Festivities and Feats of Strength portions of the newsletter.

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