In Praise of a Basket Pipe

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Whalehead King
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Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2018 6:20 am

Fri Jun 01, 2018 6:35 pm

My first pipe was a basket pipe. I didn't know what I was doing. I had just decided to smoke a pipe. Mrs. King hates cigarettes and I was a heavy cigarette smoker at the time, 2-3 packs a day. That wasn't going to work if I wanted to keep her, so we compromised. We agreed that I would smoke something that smelled a little more pleasant.

I went to L.J. Piretti, in Boston, which was a few T stops from our house (the T is Boston's subway system). Walking into the shop, no one paid me any mind. The clerks at L.J. Piretti aren't out to sell you anything. They are used to tourists wandering into the shop, looking around, saying stupid things, and then walking out. Once they get to know you, these guys have hearts of gold, but, if you're a new face, you need to earn their attention.

I looked at the pipes on the wall, the name brands and the house brands, and, of course, the basket full of $20 pipes caught my eye. I had no idea what I was doing. I looked them over, not with the expert eye that I have today to ascertain pipe quality, but with an amateur's eye. Did this pipe look better than that one? What would I look like holding this pipe? Clenching it? Too brown? Too black? Too bent?

I picked a straight, a preference I continue to hold to this day.

I picked my pipe from the basket selection and I took it to the register. The guy behind the counter asked me if I had smoked a pipe before. I replied, "Years ago. I had a pipe for about two weeks and I smoked Capt. Black Gold in it. This is the pipe I've chosen. Can you recommend a tobacco for me?"

He did recommend a couple of tobaccos from the tins on display. I didn't listen to his advice. I picked a tin based on the tin art. Some things never change.

That pipe I purchased at Piretti is still with me. It's still a favorite pipe. I loved it then. I love it still.

I am leery about grab-bag pipes. When an online retailer says, "Let us choose it for you," I say no thanks. I've been burned too many times with that come-on. Out of a basket at a good B&M, though, based on this first experience, I'm not opposed to basket pipes. YMMV. My first basket pipe has never disappointed.

I've had plenty of pipes, basket or otherwise, that have disappointed me. You can compare picking a basket pipe to the lottery. For me, I came out a winner. My first pipe will be the last pipe I give up. It's going to stay with me until I die, a fond momento that has never let me down and that I will cherish as a life changing tool opened my horizons to some of the better things in this world. A good pipe is a reliable friend. My first basket pipe has been a good friend. It still is. I smoke it at least once a month. I should smoke it more often.
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I run a small hotel in New Orleans. It's in Louisiana, in case you're thinking of another New Orleans I've never heard of.
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The Mayor
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Joined: Sun Apr 22, 2018 4:48 pm
Location: Mineral Bluff , Georgia

Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:13 pm

Your story is very similar to mine . I snagged a bent billiard baskt pipe .. Tug boat / Made in Italy ... I prefer straights but my Grandpop smoked a bent . I picked up a pouch of Argosy Black , an all black Cavendish . I lucked out , man ... a really great pipe and a super cool no bite good tasting blend to start and I think that was a biggie plus . Had I have grabbed Flying Dutchman and a lame pipe .. I doubt I'd be here today
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Whalehead King
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Location: Burlington, VT

Thu Jun 14, 2018 8:22 am

I was born too late to have a local B&M with anyone behind the counter knowing something about pipes.

4noggins, and Wilke, were local but online only. Now they're both gone.

So far it's been the Estate lottery as far as finding an excellent smoker.
Underwater Basketweaver.
Baskets of basket pipes.
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