President's Message February 2019
I’m hijacking the President’s Message this month because this is President’s Day month and I suspect our president needs a break. He has brought a lot of energy and ideas to our humble little group in hopes that one day the Sherlock Holmes Pipe Club of Boston will be a household name (for pipe smokers at least). I thought this might be a good time to provide a little history about our club and I’d like to thank laureate and life member Andy Camire for his input on the club’s history from before I joined.
According to Alan Rosenfield, our club’s founder, a post office box was set up in Sept. of 1989 as a way to receive correspondence for a pipe club he was starting which was originally called the Sherlock Holmes Pipe Club, Ltd. USA. Ironically enough, the post office box number for our club was 221. Initially, member dues was $25 for a life membership and the newsletter was primarily used to buy, sell and trade pipes and although it seems the first newsletter came out in 1990 we consider our club’s official start date to be September of 1989, which means we will have our 30th anniversary this year and we’re hoping to do a few things to make this year special.
Meetings were held in the Mansfield Host Hotel where members could enjoy a meal in the atrium and smoke their pipes. Later they moved us into a function room (I’m sure you can imagine why). I joined the club in 2002 and met in that function room where a waiter would come in and take your dinner order and serve our food. It was great. Every month there was a theme. One member would do some research and agree to do a talk on a specific pipe brand, company or historical interest concerning tobacco/pipes. And during that monthly meeting everyone was asked to bring in any pipes that they owned for that specific brand. We had a large contingent of dedicated collectors at that point. Everyone in attendance was a collector/smoker and show and tell was a big part of the monthly meeting talking about what was new in our collections since the previous meeting. We had some months where tobacco tastings were the entertainment/learning experience, but it was more about pipes and new acquisitions. Several times per year we would invite a Company pipe representative or shop owner to attend our meetings. The Club would pay for their hotel expense if they had to travel for one night and treat them to dinner. They in turn would display and sell inventory of some spectacular pipes they had. Everyone would walk away with one or two nice pieces for their collection. Some of the Retailers/Reps that we had attend were J.M. Boswell, pipemaker/shop owner from Pennsylvania, Bill Fuerbach, S.M. Frank Co. (Kaywoodie), Kem Mecklenburg representing Savinelli, Tom Cristiano came from Florida while in the area representing Cristiano Pipes and Mastro de Paja, R.D. Field (representing Ashton, Radice), and many other fairly local shop owners, Watch City, Peretti's, Leavitt & Pierce, Gold Leaf, etc.
The first and only SHPC Boston pipe show was held at the Tremont House Hotel, Boston, on November 13th, 14th, 1993. The show was sponsored by Jack Ehrmantraut from Arlington, TX. who bought the rights of PCI. (Pipe Collectors International). Some of the SHPC members that attended besides the Charter Members were. Mr. & Mrs. Dave Rossi, Eric Schmeider, Henry Blackwell, Steve Smith, Paul Dunn, and Stephen Wyman. Some of the exhibitors were Robert Peretti from the famous L.J. Peretti's in Boston, Barry Levin & family, Andrew Marks pipemaker, Mel Feldman (The Smoker, Albany, NY), Tom Cristiano (Cristiano pipes and Mastro de Paja), Dunhill represented by Gene Thompson, Rob Cooper, the Camire Bros. (Bill and Andy), Jay Beard, Ted Gulkin (SHPC members). The hall was full of patrons for both days. Alberto Bonfiglioli, pipemaker to the USA, (Bologna, Italy) donated the Prize pipe for the show. A slight bent straight grain pot with sterling silver cap on the bowl engraved BOSTON 1993. The pipe was won by former member and president Don Powers.
When I joined in 2002 Don Powers was the president, Andy Camire was the treasurer and Mark Maxfield was the secretary. I’m not sure if there were any presidents between Alan and Don. Many of the members mentioned above were still attending meetings. We were still doing a monthly theme and occasionally vendors came and did a trunk show. One thing that was always a big hit was when member Kenny Kasparian, who was a salesman for Ardor, Brebbia and other names, came to the meeting. He always had lots of pipes to sell and at very good prices. If you look back at the SHPC Gazette archives you can relive many of these meetings. I hope to resurrect some of them in upcoming newsletters since these were the final years of the golden days of pipe smoking and need to be relived so we don’t forget.
President Don Powers had to move with his family in New Hampshire and sadly passed away in 2009. Mitt Romney signed a smoking ban in 2004 that meant we could no longer meet at our meeting location in Mansfield which was now owned by Holiday Inn. We were homeless. We met at member’s homes when we could, we met at the Tinder Box in Mashpee and we even met in New Hampshire once. These were not good times. We kept it together but in the process, we lost a lot of long time members.
Eric Kahn, a member who has been with us since 1998 told us that his temple in Stoughton had a cigar group and that maybe we could combine our meeting with theirs. We thought it a good idea and started meeting at the temple in March of 2005. It didn’t take long to overpower the cigar guys and they soon stopped coming (which was not our intention). We met there for many years but also had a back-up location at the Massapoag Sportman’s Club in the next town. Our club moved from a collector/smoker group to more of a smokers/enthusiast group. We still had lots of pipes but the focus was more on camaradarie and sharing tobaccos and stories, But it was all still good. We had two presidents while at the temple, Dock Perry, who resurrected the yearly club pipe which had started back in the late 90s then went on hiatus for a number of years. He no longer attends meetings but up until 2018 he was the only member to own every SHPC club pipe that was commissioned. When Dock decided to step down in November of 2007, Eric Kahn stepped up and remained the club’s president until February 2017.
In May of 2016 the town of Stoughton changed their smoking laws and we could no longer meet at the temple. Fortunately, with the help of Eric Kahn and Merrick Sokol we were able to keep our alternate meeting location at the sportsman’s club in the reserve and they agreed to let us meet there on the first Tuesday of the month. Although the temple held a lot more smoke, the sportsman’s club was more conducive to pipe smoking. We felt like we belonged there.
In February of 2017 Kevin Catanzaro from Rhode Island became our next and current president. Kevin joined in April of 2015 and between April and November brought in half of the pipe smokers in Rhode Island to become members giving him enough points to win the club’s first SHPC’s Club Card challenge which was a way to bolster enthusiasm and grow membership. So Kevin did grow the membership a bit and being a Mason brought a lot of club enthusiasm and order with him. In February of 2017 we held elections and Kevin was elected the next and current president of the Sherlock Holmes Pipe Club. What was once a laid back casual meeting of like-minded folks sharing the passion for the pipe has evolved into a more organized group of pipe smokers with high expectations of the club’s future. We look forward to seeing where this new direction leads us.
So that’s it in a nut shell (sort of). We can’t end without thanking all of the members involved for keeping this club alive all these years. All of you who got it started and the rest of you for coming each month and keeping us going. Just a couple more shout outs for those who played key roles in the club. Rick Frederics was the club’s treasurer for many, many years and did a great job. He had to leave the club due to illness which left a big hole in our club. He is doing well the last time I checked. His position was covered by your truly while continuing in the role of Secretary since about 2003 and keeping you all updated on all of the SHPC happenings via the SHPC Gazette. I was extremely happy that Matt Plaud took over the role of treasurer last year and has done a great job taking care of the club’s finances. Finally, I’d like to thank Tim Hynick for all of his hard work making the SHPC Club Pipe happen each year. It’s not an easy job but he makes it look that way. Thanks to you all for all you’ve done for our humble little club.
So since this is the month for President’s Day and for the Super Bowl I would like you all to bring in a small Patriots related trinket (keychain, foam finger, season tickets, etc) for our President. Anyone who brings in a Patriots trinket for Kevin will get an extra ticket for this month’s President’s Raffle. This request has been sanctioned by Kevin, this is not a joke. (Go Pats!!!)