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"When I was a young boy I had a surrogate grandfather, a man who took the place of the grandfathers I had never met, nor would I. He was not a verbal communicator but he possessed the ability to relate to me through actions. He was a diesel mechanic for Cummins Diesel and traveled around the globe finding the cause of problems the company was having with their engines. His expertise was legendary within the industry.
Anyway, we were able to communicate through his ability to do mechanical projects. We would work on projects together and he would teach me about the tools we were using and the proper and safe use of this equipment. Usually after dinner we would go down to his workshop (the garage) and he would set up the lathe or band saw we were about to use and he would teach me how to use it properly. Then we would begin the project. We spent hundreds of hours working together and creating useful items that could be used in the home. During all of this time he would have a cigar in his mouth that never seemed to go out. I never really thought much about it at the time, but it was something that made him different in my eyes. He was a good hearted person who seemed to enjoy the time we spent together.
When I was fifteen years old someone gave me some cheap cigar and I wanted to find out if there was something magical about it. I asked my mother if I could smoke it and she said I could if I smoked the whole thing. Well when I finished it, two things were apparent to me: one was that I felt relaxed and the other was I didn't care for the taste. But the feeling of being relaxed stuck with me.
Years later, when we were both older and I was a young adult, I had just returned from Vietnam and was having trouble adjusting to being in a safe environment and letting my guard down, I remembered those cigars and how he enjoyed them so much. I wondered if they might help me relax and reinsert myself into the new surroundings I found myself. So I went to a local liquor store and bought a roi tan cigar, or something like it, took a thermos of coffee and headed to Santa Monica beach, found a boulder to sit on and listened to the waves crash into the sand. After a couple of hours I found that my life was a little bit different and better. I did this a couple more times during the next two or three weeks and found that it worked very well. There was something about the activity of puffing on those cigars and listening to those waves that changed my reality and perspective about what I had experienced and what I was now experiencing. It all made a huge difference in my perspective and outlook.
So this man, Clyde, who spent hundreds of hours with me helping me learn to use my hands and create something worthwhile had also given me the magic tool that would change my life in just a few hours. To this day I smoke cigars for the pleasure and enjoyment that I found on that beach in April 1969."