Sturkie Family History
Father Tries To Stop His Son's Smoking
~~by Paul D. Sturkie, Phd.

My Father had four sons and before all of us were grown up, he had changed considerably his ideas about how to manage and discipline boys. Ira and I were the eldest and my father learned from us. In the beginning he embraced the “don’t do this or that” philosophy. If you do, you will be punished. For example, long before we had thought of smoking, Dad told us not to smoke and related repeatedly to us the evils of smoking. This was many years before we knew that smoking could cause cancer. Such admonition against smoking encouraged us to try it; at least once, for if we didn’t we might be missing an exciting experience

An older friend of ours agreed to teach us how to smoke if we would supply the “makings”, the tobacco and the paper to roll the cigarettes in. Since my father stocked such items in his store, this was no problem for us. We took from the store a large cloth bag of R. J. R. tobacco (R.J. Reynolds, or fatuously, Run Johnnie Run”), and the requisite papers, each about three inches long and about one and one fourth inches wide and fairly thin and flexible.

Our friend, Burton,taught us how to roll a cigarette by holding the paper in the left hand, cradled between the thumb and second finger with the forefinger compressing the paper between them. The requisite amount of tobacco, determined largely by experience, was then dribbled from the bag by the right hand onto the paper by the gentle tapping of the bag with the right fingers. The fingers and thumb of the right hand were then positioned the same as those of the left hand. By manipulating the right and left forefingers and thumbs in a rolling motion against the second fingers, the tobacco was rolled into a fairly tight cylinder. The back side of the paper was wetted by the tongue and sealed over the front part of the rolled paper. To prevent leaking out of the lighted end, the end of the paper roll was twisted. The cigarette was now ready for smoking. We learned how to cup our hands to light a smoke in the wind, and how to inhale smoke without choking.

We had a special hiding place for our tobacco, in our garage where one of the siding boards was short about three inches. We pushed the tobacco back into this opening. Our father must have suspected that we were smoking, although he never asked us if we were. He told us that if we wanted to smoke to do so in the open, but he knew we would not do this.

One day he found our hiding place and brought our bag of tobacco and papers to the dining room and hung them on the chandelier. When all came to dinner, Dad called the family’s attention to our smoking and invited Ira and me to smoke when we would like but please hang the bag back in its accustomed place. Frequently we had guests for dinner, particularly preachers to whom he called attention to our smoking. Dad thought he would shame us into not smoking and that we would leave it well enough alone. He was wrong. We took him at his word and contined to smoke “out of his sight" until the supply was exhausted and only the limp bag remained. Shortly thereafter the bag was gone and Dad never mentioned smoking again, but we did not smoke in his presence until several years later.