In the past few years I have had the opportunity to accompany my uncle on appraisals and to view and list consignments to his antique and estate auctions. I grew up working in the family business, but I am learning so much more now. And occasionally I get great stuff – without even asking for it.
In July I was helping my uncle list a consignment from longtime friends of his and fellow antique dealers. I gasped when I spied this Sportsman Cigarette Tin. Both of my grandparents smoked Sportsman cigarettes. My grandfather died when my mother was only 10 or 11 years old, so I never knew him.
But I have few memories of my grandmother that don’t involve her smoking. She was one of those chronic chain smokers that frequently light one cigarette from another.
She’s even holding a cigarette in some photos, like this one.
Her smoking is not a good memory (although we have a number of funny stories that feature her smoking – and trying to hide it when her children tried to get her to quit).
She was my best friend. I adored her, but I lost her to a brain aneurism (which is linked to smoking) when I was only 9 years old.
Her death in turn triggered a domino effect of very sad events that dominated nearly 3 years of my childhood. I should hate this tin.
But I gasped when I saw it and held it up for my uncle to see. From the son who had bribed and begged his mother for 20 years to quit smoking poured forth warm, funny stories. Like about the time she promised to quit smoking if he would buy my mother (then a single mom) a washer and dryer. When he dropped by her house the week after installing the washer and dryer, Grandma pretended the screen door was jammed shut while she had one arm held behind her back and a tendril of smoke spiralled upward from behind her back.
In the presence of such emotion, John told me I could have the tin. In addition to be a reminder of my grandparents, I collect Canadian antique tins and this one clearly states that it was made in Canada.
I am in the process of launching myself as a freelance writer with an environmental specialization. I’m using the tin to hold cards and bits of paper with contact information of prospective clients – using it to help clear the air on many levels, I hope.