When I was growing up in the 60’s, everyone in my neighborhood in Woodland Estates seemed to smoke. Our moms didn’t work, so they hung out in their housecoats, drank coffee, and smoked cigarettes. My dad smoked. The mailman smoked. I think the dog probably smoked. His name was Smokey, after all. Smoke filled the house. The brand of choice was Salem cigarettes. My mom loved her Salems. I could see the swirling smoke entering my nose and traveling to my naive lungs.
So, since it was such a part of our upbringing, it was nothing to walk up the path to Leach’s store and buy atomic fireballs, wax juice bottles, candy necklaces, gold mine gum, wax lips, and last but not least, a box of candy cigarettes. We loved walking up that path during the summer. It meant candy. Lots and lots of candy. Our mothers gladly threw money at us, for that meant they had more time to smoke, drink their Maxwell House coffee and gossip with the other ladies on our block. Well, I can only speak for my own mom, but she would give us money to walk to Leach’s every day during the summer. My sister, Cheryl, wore wax lips home about every day. I remember buying pretzel sticks. We all would wait until we got home to open our cigarettes. We wanted to be just like our moms. Well, minus the housecoats.
Our candy cigarettes had a pinkish tip, which I guess meant fire. You would get laughed at if you had the wrong end in your mouth. When we puffed on our white candied cigarette, there would be a chalky powder that would emit from the cigarette. It was probably cocaine. I mean, you just never know. It was the 60’s, afterall. Did tobacco companies secretly own these candy cigarette companies?
There are studies out that show that a large percentage of candy cigarette eaters became full-time smokers. I disagree. None of us cigarette eaters became smokers. I think our mothers’ smoking habits turned us off. I just never had the desire to smoke. I would put one in my mouth only to make fun of how my roommate smoked. Other than that, I hated them. Still do.
But, if that is the case, I also bought those bubblegum cigars all of the time. Does that mean I am going to smoke cigars? I bought the big wax lips. Does that mean that I would get BOTOX later? I also ate the gold mine gum. Did that mean I was going to eat money when I grew up? I mean, seriously.
Kids like to play grown-ups. We put makeup on, high heels, painted our fingernails, and smoked pretend cigarettes.
You know we are all going to end up with pretend lung cancer.