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I grew up in Upstate New York in the late 1950s, in a blue-collar neighborhood of Syracuse. In those days, the city was booming and bustling with life. The men worked full-time, while the women stayed home to raise the kids. My dad was a machinist for an automotive company. He would come home greased after those long shifts, but proud of a honest day's work. He was born and bred in the Italian neighborhood, next to the Irish and the Polish.
While most men in that era smoked cigarettes, my father smoked bold cigars. We used to go downtown to pick up a few things from the Italian market for my mom to prep for important family and holiday meals. Among many things, Dad would always pick up a box of Toscano Cigars, those unmistakeable hand-rolled Italian cigars. As a kid, they looked like adult candies to me.
Every evening after dinner, dad would fire up a Toscano cigar while listening to our stories about school as mom cleaned up the plates. Sometimes I would accompany him in the den as he read the newspaper or just enjoyed the smoke with his drink as he unwound. I loved going in the den because of the distinct sweet smell that no other room in the house had.
Dad was an avid smoker. Whenever his cigar got down to the nub, he would unroll and crush it up then fired up the Kentucky tobacco leaves in his trusty pipe. I knew smoking those cigars was a significant pleasure for him and I admired his dedication in enjoying every last bit of it. Perhaps it was his "Child of the Great Depression" instinct that would not allow him to waste any part of such fine quality cigars.
Whenever I go back to my family's home, I like to walk into the den and take in the remnants of that special aroma and think of my father. I can see him right there in his chair, enjoying his cigar in a true moment of peace and relaxation, after a long day of taking care of his family. Till this day, whenever I think of my dad, I can somehow smell that fresh, earthy aroma of Toscano Cigars.