Salome Magazine
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LAce Posted Monday, January 14th, 2008
Up in Smoke
Sally Kemple

Ever heard the expression, "Pick your battles?"

That's easy to say but to actually do it, well—it's not so easy.

Forty-eight years ago, at twelve I picked up my first smoke and will never forget the first drag I took. Although I'd coughed my fool head off, I lit another and then another.

Having just moved to Portland from a country berg I remember vividly how badly I wanted to fit into my new surroundings. Everywhere I looked boys and girls stood on street corners socializing, laughing and having a marvelous time while the air around them turned blue.

I thought they looked cool. Smoking made them look older and sent me the message they were mean, meaner than those who didn't smoke—and those kids weren't to be messed with. I didn't know it at the time, but it was illegal for juveniles to smoke or have in their possession tobacco or Copenhagen. According to the cops it was a controlled substance.

Cops on the beat often stopped their patrol car, got out and demanded, "Put those cigarettes out. What you're doing is against the law—hand your packs over."

To the ones who did so without question, they shook their fingers and yelled, "If I catch you kids smoking again, your butts belong to me. Got it?"

They walked away and shook their heads as they wondered how they'd get another pack. In 1959, smokes were thirteen cents a pack. Money wasn't easy to come by and picking up bottles and cans wasn't an option, for the bottle bill hadn't yet been put into play. If you didn't get an allowance, or hold down a job for two-bits an hour you begged, borrowed and stole in order to have the illegal contraband in your possession.

The ones who refused to do as ordered were hauled off to N.E. 67th and Glisan in a police car, JDH, (Juvenile Detention Hall) better known as Juvy. We'd be kept the night, and the following morning we'd stand before a judge.

The Judge wasn't happy to see so many young offenders dragged into his courtroom. After a good tongue-lashing on the perils of smoking, we were released to our parents. I can't tell you how many times I was stopped, lost count, for there was always a next time.

It seemed to me the more often they stopped us, the more we smoked and some of us went underground.

What's truly amazing is that ithappened such a long time ago, can you believe almost half a century?

The other day, while picking up prescriptions I asked the pharmacist, "Do the stop smoking products really work?"

"Some are better than others according to people who buy it," she said, "Depends on your motivation. Tell yourself you want to quit. You can do it."

"I'm tired of coughing, and my bronchitis is killing me, but I sure as heck hate to waste my money on this stuff and not have it work. I can't afford to buy this and my smokes too, if it doesn't work."

"Wrong attitude," she said and walked away.

Okay. I purchased two boxes, seventy-two lozenges per box. The instructions are to take one table every two hours and one before I even get out of bed. That's fifty dollars a week, and the brochure suggested I do this for twelve weeks.

Six hundred bucks! My God that's a lot of money, but for the past year I've allocated fifty dollars for a carton of smokes per week.

Can I make my New Years resolution work this time, or will my money go up in smoke as always?

Comments [post a comment]

Posted by Marie Shield [ ] on Wednesday, January 16th, 2008 at 7:42 AM
Good one, Sally and good luck to you. Like that you didn't turn it into a morality thing. Marie

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