Photo by Marek Studzinski on Unsplash


By Charles Towne

Kids watch adults. That is one of the ways we learn, isn’t it?

That’s how I learned the joys of smoking – by watching my good old pops shake a camel cigarette from a pack and light up. Oh yeah, how much fun could a guy have! And if he felt like entertaining us, he would blow smoke rings! That was a real blast!

But I never could understand, if smoking was so much fun, why was he was always warning me about the evils of tobacco? That didn’t make much sense to me.

Mr. Roy (not his real name) was a friend of my dad’s. He went to that great tobacco farm in the sky years ago.

Mr. Roy didn’t smoke though; no, he chewed tobacco. Red Man chewing tobacco to be exact. And he was the one that introduced me to ‘the evils of tobacco’. Good old Roy, he was always good for a laugh.

We were putting up hay at the time, and we had taken a break. You have probably noticed that I used the word “we” a couple of times there, but to be honest with you, there really wasn’t much a little boy pup of six years old could do other than carry water for the field hands. But I was there when Mr. Roy pulled that bag of Red Man chewing tobacco, with its picture of an Indian chief on it, out of his pocket. He was in the process of taking a pinch and stuffing it in his cheek when he noticed the kid watching him in great wonder and curiosity.

My dad had hiked off to the trees for an urgent nature call, and wasn’t there at the moment, so Mr. Roy decided to have some fun. He looked at me, smiled real big and friendly-like, looked at the pouch of tobacco in his hand, and held it out to me.

Now, I remembered something about my dad’s warning about the “evils” of tobacco, but I immediately rationalized, “This isn’t cigarettes, this is chewing tobacco! Surely daddy didn’t mean chewing tobacco was evil?”

I hesitated a moment longer, and Mr. Roy held the forbidden fruit a moment longer, and then he started to withdraw it. That was too much of a temptation for me to resist. I reached out and took a smidgeon, a miserly little bit. He frowned. And then he said, “Aww boy, ya need more then that! Take some!” So I took some. Then he said, “Good boy. Now you stick it in your mouth and start chewing. And remember – at first it won’t taste too good, but you are preparing your mouth for years of chewing pleasure!”

I stuffed that tobacco in my mouth and started chewing. I chewed and I chewed, and the more I chewed the more vile that stuff tasted.

I was about to spit it out but he stopped me and said, “Now that’s good boy, and it is about to start tasting real good. All you have to do now is swallow it!”

I swallowed it.

My entire body rebelled.

My stomach crawled out of my mouth and folded itself over my head.

I knew I was going to die, but then I was afraid if I did die right then, I knew I was going to go someplace that I wouldn’t enjoy.

I can still hear Mr. Roy’s laughter ringing in my ears to this day!

That was the first time I ever tried chewing tobacco.

That was also the last time I ever tried chewing tobacco.

That was also the last time I ever trusted Mr. Roy.

Thank you Papa God for giving me enough sense to know when enough is sometimes more then enough, Amen.

Charles Towne is first and foremost a Christian. An octogenarian, author, journalist, wildlife photographer, naturalist, caregiver, and survivor, his life has been and continues to be, a never-ending adventure filled with possibilities never imagined. He has adopted the philosophy that to Live fully, laugh uproariously, love passionately, and learn like there is no tomorrow, is a formula for a long and joy-filled life.


  1. Oh my goodness!! That story certainly hit home with me! My grandparents lived in KY and my Papa grew tobacco for a living.
    Amazingly enough, he did not smoke or chew. When I was growing up, every summer
    we would go up for at least 2wks, sometimes, the whole summer.
    I’ve seen enough chewin’ and a spittin’ to last for 3 lifetimes!!
    My brother and a few cousins made the same mistake you did.
    They tried a “chew”. Unfortunately, they accidentally swallowed a little and I don’t have to tell you how they were feeling for awhile after that happened! Ahhhhh, the great memories we make!! Thankfully, some of them are lifelong teaching moments! Thanks so much…truly enjoyed the morning laugh!
    God bless you!!

    • Dear CSG, the wondrous delites of a big wonderful swallow of tobacco juice! That is something one is not going to forget real soon! ARRGG! sometimes there are joys that are so much fun we only need one experiment! OH YEAH! Chaz

  2. Thanks for for the Sunday morning laughs. Remind me next time we talk to tell you my favorite chewing tobacco story from my days working for the phone company. Have a blessed day sir and keep the stories coming.

    • Mike, Mike Mike! What is there about some vile corruption that entices otherwise intelligent human beans to take their first cheW? Go ahed, try it; it is delicious! “Gag, choke, vomit!” Tastes sorta like horse puckie with a delicious cow pie aftertaste!

    • Dear NH, He didn’t have a point other than to make a little kid sick! But you are right, he did get his point accross. Thank God, I did learn. Chaz

  3. Oh how you bring back memories… At about the age of four I recall watching my father get his daily chaw of tobacco from a neatly wrapped cellophane package. It was approximately three inches long and two inched wide and a half of an inch thick. I vaguely recall the label being “Red” or “Red Apple”. He would take a pinch of tobacco after dinner. His contention was that he only used it to settle his stomach and aid digestion (go figure). He would not swallow the juice and would spew the resulting brown saliva in a tin can that was strategically placed out-of-the-way around the house. Unfortunately, no matter how well tucked away, the rambling nature of a hyper four-year-old was drawn to it like a heat seeking missile only to tip over the can and spill its contents. Once baptized in the chaw juice, all desire to engage in chewing tobacco was “forever” gone. In subsequent years, my father embraced religion and bid the demon leaf farewell.

  4. Dea EdG, A friends daddy kept a fruit jar handy for spitting. One time my friend poured the vile content into his daddy’s coffee cup without his pops knowing about it. There is no way tobacco juice tastes like coffee. My friends daddy failed to see the humor in that experiment. Life is interesting isn’t it?

  5. Ah, how well I remember those days when 4 out of 5 doctors recommended Camel cigarettes! Dad smoked and in those days everyone smoked so when I grew a bit, so did I but luckily no body I knew chewed, in fact, not until I was grown and working construction did I encounter guys who regularly used chewing tobacco! I remember the black stained lips, the frightening smile, and the foul cups they all walked around holding! Thankfully, chewing tobacco is one temptation I managed to avoid!

  6. Richard, i am sure there are some nastier habits I just can’t think of any right now. I knew of a guy that chewed and ended up with lip cancer. How much fun can a guy have? Bless you pal, Chaz

  7. Mama is the one who convinced Papa to stop smoking. After learning about tobacco’s cancer risk, she said to Papa, “Honey, I don’t mind the smell of cigarette smoke, and I even like watching you smoke, but each cigaraette you put to your mouth is a nail in your coffin. Please stop smoking.” Amazingly, Papa didn’t argue. He immediately stopped. Mama added, “To control his urge to smoke, your dad chewed Chicklettes until his jaws hurt.” Ever afterward, if Mama suspected a person of being a smoker, she would tell this story and recommend they chew gum instead.

  8. Yes Judith, I remember it well! Mama likely added years to his life in the process. “Alls well that ends well.” Bless you all, Chaz


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