They looked pretty much like this one:
I know, I know. What? You, the most vehement anti-smoker gal that anyone has ever met...you had a bevy of pipes? When? Where? Why? How?
Well, I had a mom that was a teacher at one time. Never during my lifetime, but at one time. Unless you consider someone a teacher whether they are employed as a teacher or not, which I do, which would mean that my mother was a teacher during my lifetime, and remains so to this day, which kind of negates the whole "at one time" thing, but you get my drift. And what that meant, that being-been-is-a-teacher thing, is that there were always what we'll call "materials". Things. Objects. Paraphenalia. Stuff to do stuff with. Art supplies. Toys. You name it. It wasn't all out, but it was all there, and I knew it.
So, in one of the many drawers, there were corn cob pipes. I bet they're still there. I never associated them with smoking. I barely knew that was what a pipe was for, even though my uncle, who visited sporadically, smoked a pipe, which I gotta say smelled great, not like the stench of cigarettes or cigars. I just didn't put the two things together.
No. I wasn't stupid. I was a child.
That was one of the beauties of a childhood that was genuinely a childhood, so unlike many childhoods these days--it carried with it an entirely shameless naivete. So many folks these days, when they talk about how "I had a water pistol or a toy gun, and it didn't hurt me none, I didn't grow up to shoot people, it's so ridiculous when parents these days don't let their kids play with toy guns, they've lost control of their senses, they're helicopter parents, blah blah blah". No. That's not it. In addition to an arsenal of water pistols, I had a hefty toy gun, a big green scuffed plastic toy gun (wait, I'm going to ebay right now to see if I can find one like it). It clicked when you pulled the trigger, and it had a whistle where the little doohickey that you pull back to "cock" a gun would have been located. This one is kinda close, except it was green, not blue, and it didn't say police on it, and it was scuffed, not shiny, and, like I said, mine had a whistle (I know, I said that twice, but how cool is it to have a whistle on it? I can still remember the taste of the plastic.) But still.
Yeah. Me. The rabid "don't let your kids play with guns" person. I had one. Well, actually--and now I'm a little embarassed--when i was searching for the cool green whistle gun on ebay, I found this one,
which I also apparently had. Hell, maybe i had a whole arsenal and I'm just in denial about it. Anything is possible.
Okay, so I had a whole mess o' guns (or two, anyway). But most especially that green one. I loved it, and yeah, it didn't hurt me none, I didn't grow up to shoot people or even like guns. But here's the rub: I didn't know ANYTHING about real guns. I didn't see them on TV, except in westerns, which were okay, but I didn't exactly identify with the characters. I didn't know anyone who had a gun, other than my dad's non-operational German gun in a leather holster that was a souvenir from his service in World War II, which was kept in his bedside table drawer for my entire childhood. I knew it was there, I saw it, I held it--for all intents and purposes, it was indistinguishable (other than by weight) from my green plastic toy gun with a whistle. It was an item, with a label, but it had nothing to do with bullets, nothing to do with harm, nothing to do killing...I didn't even know of such things. Under these conditions, playing with a toy pistol is a whole 'nother ball 'o wax. If you're young, and you weren't around during the 60's, you're just gonna have to believe me. We just didn't see people shooting people on TV--real people, I mean. It wasn't like that. Context is everything.
So plastic guns were for chasing people around and pretending to shoot them without any awareness of what shooting was. Candy cigarettes--which are still sold, and which I also think differently of now (there were no health warnings on cigarettes way back when)--were for pretending to smoke to look cool--they didn't turn me into a smoker, either, maybe because I had no idea that those people who were putting those white sticks up to their mouths were inhaling smoke. I thought they were props. Mine were. And corn cob pipes*? They were for blowing bubbles.
You soak 'em in some dish soap (hot tip: Dawn is best for this) and water, and then you blow bubbles to your heart's content. They're not like the kind of bubbles that float through the air (even though that's what it looks like on the youtube videos of fancy schmancy bubble pipes). They're the kind that just grow and flow and cascade over the side of the bubble pipe, landing on your red rubber toed sneakers, soaking them in soapy suds. So cool.
I bet that's what General MacArthur did on his time off.
*Given my stream of consciousness style, I want a little bit of credit for not blathering on about how i don't get how anyone would come up with the idea of turning a corn cob into a pipe anyway, because frankly, when I eat a yummy ear of corn, the last think I think about is "how could I hollow this out and stuff something inside it and smoke it". But hey, that's just me.