A.C. Snow

Snow: I quit smoking and never looked back

On an unseasonably warm day, at a stoplight on Glenwood Avenue, I pulled up behind a pickup truck. As I waited, the driver rolled down the window and extended a slender arm at the end of which dangled a cigarette.

Still in the afterglow of Christmas, I reminded myself of one of the greatest gifts I ever received: the willpower to stop smoking.

It wasn’t easy. I’d been a Marlboro man a long time. But one night I awakened gasping for breath. Next day I quit, cold turkey.

However, a friend still questions the “cold turkey” claim.

“You bummed cigarettes off me for over a year after you ‘quit,’” he insists.

In a recent e-mail, a longtime reader recalled how much he enjoyed smoking before he quit several years ago.

“Should I ever reach 90, I intend to resume smoking those Camel non-filters which I gave up 27 years and seven months ago,” he said. “I have missed each and every one of those cigarettes ever since.”

Fortunately for me, I haven’t.

I rejoice in today’s smoke-free restaurants and workplaces. I no longer feel the guilt of exposing my family to the flow of nicotine-laden smoke that I sent their way or at leaving bits of tobacco in my shirt pockets for my wife to shake out before laundering. I no longer have to endure the stench from an ashtray piled high with cigarette butts.

Smoking is on the wane. Still, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17 percent of adult Americans smoke, consuming an average of 14 cigarettes per day.

Another fact that should get smokers’ attention: It is estimated that committed smokers on average live 10 years less than nonsmokers.

Another fact that should get smokers’ attention: It is estimated that committed smokers on average live 10 years less than nonsmokers.

Not least, I’m glad not to be spending $4.55 per pack on Marlboros, ($14.50 per pack in New York). I’d rather invest the money in Häagen-Dazs strawberry ice cream.

OK, go ahead with your lecture on how I’ve jumped from the frying pan into the fire.

Mini-miracle

Among the most remarkable news items closing out 2015 was the salvage of a wedding ring from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

Jay Bradford of Belmar, N.J., was pulling up anchor after a fishing expedition when his ring slipped from his finger into the ocean.

He texted his wife, “I lost my ring in the ocean.”

“I nearly threw up!” she was quoted as saying upon learning of the loss.

Four days later, Bradford returned to the site with a salvage diver, who went down into the water and within 10 minutes found the ring resting on a rock on the bottom of the ocean.

Such a happening might well qualify as a mini-miracle.

Multitudes of married men can identify with how Bradford must have felt as the ring disappeared into the ocean.

The words “with this ring I thee wed” haunt husbands for a lifetime as they live with the subconscious dread of losing their wedding rings and confessing their carelessness to their mates.

A replacement ring can never match the magic of the original because it has no emotional history.

Notorious crime

During my grandchildren’s holiday visit, I described a time of youth when murder and violence were rare instead of routine as they are today.

They were fascinated by the details of one of North Carolina’s most notorious crimes, Charlie Lawson’s 1929 Christmas Eve murder of his wife and six children, followed by his own suicide. I was a wee boy at the time, but the ballad has survived almost a century.

I recited some of the ballad’s lyrics:

It was on one Christmas evening,

The snow was on the ground.

When a man named Charlie Lawson,

The murderer he was found.

They say he killed his wife at first

And the little ones did cry,

Papa, dear Papa please spare our lives

For it is so hard to die …

Today’s grin

Former state Sen. Eleanor Kinnaird of Chapel Hill has an even better suggestion for our state logo: “Still Ahead of Mississippi.”

(Area Mississippi transplants are welcome to equal space.)

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