Old Mack’s Tales

January 28, 2011

OldMack’s No Longer a Smoker!

Filed under: Opinion and Memoir,Short Stories,Uncategorized — Ron McKinney aka "OldMack" @ 9:22 pm

I May Be a Non Smoker Already!

There’s no need to tell you who know me that I’ve been smoking tobacco products ever since I was a pupil in George Dewey School at the San Diego Naval Housing Unit in 1944 at age ten.  I recall only one period of a few days during which cigarettes and tobacco were unavailable to me; I smoked crushed oak leaves rolled in Zig-Zag papers and it got me through that crisis.  People have always been able to smell me coming by the tobacco odor clinging to my clothing, hair etc.  In Korea that was a real problem; the local cigarettes didn’t leave the same odor on us, so I started swapping cigarettes with our Yobos (Korean Service Corps Laborers—for whom monuments ought to have been built to honor their selfless service).  Prior to going out into enemy territory on patrols I’d eat Kimchee with our KSC troops; I can’t swear that it did any good, but I passed through Chinese lines and territory unobserved and unmolested a few times on scout/sniper missions.

My favorite smoking moment was this: Dave Priest, Randall Crawford and I climbed a lengthy chimney in Smith Rocks at the top of which was a chock stone.  They were slim of hip and able to pass between the chock stone and the face; I had to climb out and over it quite exposed; that’s when my pack of Winstons fell out of my pocket and drifted down to the Crooked River Gorge.  We three stood on a wide ledge congratulating ourselves on our rousing good climb, but we all craved cigarettes.  We patted ourselves down.  I found a manifold real estate form; Dave found a few grains of tobacco in the bottom of his pipe tobacco pouch.  We rolled smokes, lit up and enjoyed the view, our camaraderie, our smoke and our ongoing speculative philosophical discussions—which on this occasion centered on their recent receipt of “Greetings” and invitations to participate in that war in South East Asia; in short, our last venture together for the next few years.  All of this seemingly disparate blather may tend to show that smoking is less an addiction than merely a habit of rewarding ourselves after doing something foolish, fattening or fun.

I have no craving for a cigarette this morning.  But I have been busy.  Assembling the DeVilbiss compressor and nebulizer equipment, caring for our two dogs, Zooey and Buddy, and cat plus cleaning up the dishes from my last night’s snack, and making contact with Christine at the hospital El Club Med to report kept me going since dawn–she’s doing fine, meeting lots of interesting people, hearing new stories, keeping up her journaling, in short, having a grand time.

I pause to suck in some nebulized Albuterol—holding the expanded plastic like a cigar and pretending—stayed both that tickle in my throat, the coughing impulse, and my craving for tobacco smoke.  While nebulizing I sorted out my morning ration of prescription pills which control elevated blood pressure, prevent clotting of blood in the arteries, and control the tendency of my pump to cavitate when excited.  I’m sure none of these chemicals would be needed if only I could get out for a romp on steep rocks with old friends.

The mere sight of a fir-clad mountain—up close and personal—would make my day!



  1. I’m glad to see new posts from you. I enjoy your stories.

    Comment by train-whistle — January 29, 2011 @ 8:44 am | Reply

    • Thanks train-whistle. Drum up some traffic; I’m just about to begin writing again.

      Comment by OldMack — May 2, 2011 @ 4:28 pm | Reply

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