The March 2004 New York Pipe Show is the Kentucky Derby of Rich Esserman's annual Triple Crown of pipes shows and took place this year on March 12 & 13 at the Ramada Inn at the beautiful Newark Airport. The Sherlock Holmes Pipe Club of Boston had a strong showing at this event with 11 members present, many of which were clad in their colors of green and tan. But although these shows have been running for many years it was this pipesmoker's first show and I was a bit anxious to get started. They had no trouble getting me in the gate but when the bell rang I got off to a slow start....
Taking advantage of the Friday night pre-show viewing, another newcomer Dock "Junior" Perry took an early lead and gained substantial ground throughout the day Saturday. Also out in front but a length or two behind "Junior" were Dick "The Pusher" Morse, Eric "Eveready" Kahn and Dr. Bob "Grabow" Kiess all vying for second. But with his acquisition of an oversized Ardor poker and a Walt Cannoy 3D candledrip, "The Pusher" edged ahead and for a time securing sole possession of second place. The favorite Steve" Mass Consumer" Gutz had fallen back a bit to find himself in an uncharacteristic fifth place. Further back in the pack and carefully planning their move were Tim "Timid" Hynick and Rick "Abacus" Fredericks but all I could see of them was their tobacco smoke. About a length ahead of me was Ted "Sea Foam" Blank and Andy "Doc Watson" Camire. Steve "The Suit" Wyman flew by on my right side but I lost sight of him from that point on.
I was so entranced by this strange new arena that I could barely keep to a slow trot. So much was going on, so much to see... but what to look at first? The crowd was amass with new faces, a few familiar and a few legends like Teddy Knudsen, Peter Heeschen and Rolando Negoita that I'd heard of through stories and on the web, but they all looked like one big blur to me right now. After a few laps around the track "Abacus" dropped back and saw my distress. "What is it," he asked? "I saw a nice Caminetto earlier but now I can't remember where I saw it." "I was warned about this, why didn't I listen," I thought to myself. We retraced my tracks but came up empty. "It must be gone," I finally conceded and watched as he caught back up with the rest of the pack.
Finally, I overtook "Doc Watson" for a few furlongs and was able to clear my head. I began hearing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" playing in my mind. It was so soothing, but what did it mean? Then it came to me. I remember hearing it playing from an iPod Friday night at the Santa Fe Pipes room. I remembered how welcome and familiar I felt there and the great selection of pipes Tony and George had to offer. I started to relax and everything suddenly became clear. Maybe they were my pot of gold "over the rainbow?" While standing there still lost in thought, "Doc Watson," after falling back and gaining some perspective, recaptured his position.
Just then I was hit with a blast of Hermit's Pink Champagne that snapped my senses back to full alert like a freshly cracked smelling salt and I was off and running, down the stretch and around the bend. Ahhh good... that Savanelli Autograph with the beautiful strait grain that I had seen the night before was still there. This must be destiny. I picked it up and felt it's smoothness and admired it's beautiful grain. Instantly we became one (cue the romantic music). "Is that the one you were looking at last night?" Tony of Santa Fe Pipes asked. "Yes," I said, "and I'll take it." I had no sooner handed him the money when I looked down at his table and there it was... the Caminetto I thought I had lost. I picked it up and looked it over.... "I'll take this one too." But the race wasn't over yet. After a couple more laps around the track I ended up back at Santa Fe where they made me an offer I couldn't refuse. My final purchase was a Radice Rind, very similar to one I had been eyeing on the web and hoping to find at the show.
As we rounded the final bend the excitement from all this over stimulation
had our adrenaline at full throttle and we found ourselves neck and neck
down the stretch to the finish line and ended with a photo finish at the wire.
Because after all, when you think about it, we all took home some really great
pipes. Doesn't that put us all in the Winners Circle?
All fiction aside, the New York Pipe Show was an extremely enjoyable time for me as I imagine it
was for all who attended. It was great seeing some of our old New York comrades there like Paul
Bonaquisti, Bill Feuerbach of Kaywoodie and Rob Denholtz, Jim Murray
and Rob Garibino from the Hudson Valley Pipe Club. I also had the pleasure
of meeting Jay and Louise from Hermit Tobacco and it was great getting to know Tony and George from Santa Fe Pipes (I think they were a tad happy to have met me as well $$ ). And I can't forget to mention our Master of Ceremonies Sailorman Jack with his infamous herald, Attention! Attention! We also had an opportunity to speak with David and Janice of R.D. Field who we look forward to hosting at our April meeting. We even recruited one new club member, Alexander "Sandy" Gerli.
One of my favorite tables was the BacArt table with it's amazing display of exquisitely sculpted pipes. The craftsmanship and artistic talent that went into the making of these works of art clearly portraits the passion and dedication that Bartlomiej Antoniewski has for his craft. As much as I would have loved to put one of these beautiful pieces on my mantle, today was just a day to admire them as I did thousands of pipes that day.
Now, aside from a serious lack of appropriate signage directing you from the highway to the Ramada Inn, (remember the rotary scene in National Lampoon's European Vacation.. that's what it felt like) my first visit to the New York Pipe Show was one I'll always remember. But of all the new experiences I had at this show, I think the most memorable part of all was just being surrounded by so many genuinely nice people that share the same interest as we do.
I look forward to my next visit to one of the New York Pipe Shows which I hope will be soon, but right now my sights are set on Richmond and I've already begun hording my money..... well maybe I should start saving right after RD Field comes..... then again maybe I should wait until after the Watch City Cigar visit in June..... I don't think I'm going to have enough money................ Can anybody lend me a fiver?