Daily Archives: July 29, 2018

Father Tom – The urologist’s call brought an end to ordinary time

Blog by Steve Laug

Days passed quickly  following the horrendous experience of the biopsy and soon became weeks. Father Tom blissfully moved ahead, almost forgetting the experience and even beginning to be hopeful that the biopsy would come back negative. His days were filled with his work – weddings, funerals, homilies and the normal life of a priest. It was easy in the busyness to not think about the news of the biopsy that would come. He filled in the spaces between the work and sleep with his pipe and some good tobacco and enjoyed the ordinary rhythm of his life as it marched forward. He loved his work and the pattern that it provided for his days and weeks. He loved the time in the study and he loved the time with his people. It was a good life and he enjoyed it so it was easy to fill his waking moments with the work.

On Tuesday morning, he was in his study when suddenly his weekly rhythm was interrupted and things abruptly changed. He was working on his homily for the following Sunday and as always had a pipe in his mouth with a wreath of smoke encircling his head. He was reading and writing his reflections when the ringing of the phone jarred him into the present. He murmured his usual dislike of the intrusiveness of the phone and picked it up after a half-dozen rings. The woman on the other side of the phone confirmed with him that she was speaking with Father Tom and then identified herself as the clerk for the urologist’s office. She said that she had his test results. He expected that to be followed with some niceties and typical telephone banter but there was none. She went straight to the point. “You have cancer,” she said. He could have dropped the phone with the abruptness of her comment. The words struck him hard at the core of his being. He felt like he had been punched in the stomach. The fear and dread that had been held at bay for weeks broke free in those few moments. He was not prepared for this news. He was stunned and just sat there. She repeated her news and asked him what he wanted to do. She repeated herself in case he missed it. He mumbled out that he had no idea. She set an appointment for the next week for him to meet with the doctor to talk through his options and hung up the phone.

He sat there stunned, immovable and silent. He still held the phone at his ear oblivious to the beeping sound that told him the conversation was over. He did not seem to notice the noise, or maybe it just did not matter at this moment. He sat there for a long time in shocked silence. Finally he shook himself and laid down the phone. He stared into space with her words ringing in his head – “You have cancer”. He could not believe what had just happened and how it had been done. He was too stunned to even get mad. He shook himself back into the moment and sucked on the pipe in his mouth. It had long since gone out but it did not matter. The quietness in his soul was consumed in the swirl of chaos. The quiet of the study was gone. In its place was a huge cloud of uncertainty whirling around stirring up what had once been peaceful. He shook himself once more and relit his pipe. He slowly pulled the smoke into his mouth, savouring the taste of his favourite tobacco. He quietly let the ritual of lighting, puffing and sipping his pipe restore a bit of sanity to an insane moment. He knew that once he was calm he could think through what was going to happen next but that seemed far from his reach.

As expected the rhythm and cadence of the pipe brought with it the ability to distance himself from the moment for Father Tom. It allowed him to move to a place of quiet where he could objectively view what lay in front of him. It had always worked that way in his life and he counted on it to deliver that for him once more. He sat quietly puffing on his pipe and sipped his cold tea every so often in the process. He did not move other than to puff and sip his pipe and tea. Time felt like it stood still. Birds sang outside his window. The phone had long since stopped it annoying beeping and the receiver lay on its side on his desk. His notes and books were in disarray on the desk top and his chair was pushed back from the desk. He sat, oblivious to his surroundings and the passage of time. He disappeared into the quiet space the pipe created in his own soul.

As the quiet settled over him, he stood up, repacked his pipe, stuffed a tin of tobacco in his pocket and headed out the door. He needed to walk and clear his head. He knew that the appointment with the urologist would give him a clear picture of what lay ahead and what he could expect so he decided not to spend a lot of time guessing and processing the “what if’s”. He chose rather to think through the new course that his life would take with the diagnosis of prostate cancer and begin to move toward a place of acceptance. What it meant for him would somehow become clear soon enough but his acceptance of the new direction was another matter. He could not change his life back to the pre-cancer rhythms and patterns so he had to move ahead. He needed to accept the powerlessness of his new status and trust that the history of his life of faith would carry him to a place of surrender to God who was greater than himself and was truly his friend. He was not sure how to get there at the moment so a walk and time alone would help create space for him to move toward a sense of the acceptance, the assurance he needed and ultimately at least the beginnings of surrender.

He walked for a long time with no seeming direction to his walk. His internal compass had taken over and he ended up at Stanley Park. He walked along the sea wall as far as Brockton Point and sat on a bench. He reloaded his pipe and fired up the bowl as he sat looking at the sculpted, lone figure of the woman in a wetsuit sitting on a rock in the midst of the waves breaking against her pedestal. The sculptor had somehow been able to capture a calm serenity in her expression that was unchanged by the waves that broke around her. Even though she was bronze – her expression appeared unmoved by the circumstance of her setting. The artist had captured a heart of confidence and trust that had survived the years of incessant pounding waves in calm and storm since its placement in 1972. The statue was weathered but unmoved. It sat resolutely on its pedestal in the water.

As he sat contemplating the statue off the point a lot of correlations to his present predicament went through his mind. Sitting in a wreath of pipe smoke he began to connect the dots. Just as the sculptor knew the resting place of her work, he believed in a maker who knew his days as well. Just as the sculptor had carved her own resolution into the face of her statue, he knew that his life had been sculpted through the ordinary time of his life in preparation for the struggles that lay ahead of him. He began so slow down the cadence of his pipe and a sense of resolve began to displace the chaos as he continued to observe.

He had no idea how much time had passed but knew he had come to some peace with his next challenge while sitting in the shadow of the statue. He quietly breathed the words of the Serenity Prayer as he prepared to move on.

God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
and Wisdom to know the difference.

He stood, tamped his pipe, relit it and began the walk around the point. He knew that he had made some progress in his thinking because he was hungry. He checked his watch and saw that it was already late in the afternoon. He had eaten nothing all day. He knew there was a great restaurant at lodge in the centre of the park. He had enjoyed eating there in the past. The food was good and the setting relaxing. It would not take too long to walk there and he could enjoy a good meal and a good pint. He also knew that the bus stop for a quicker trip home was not far from the restaurant. He could relax with a good meal and bus home afterward. He made his way to the door, found a quiet seat on the patio looking over the park and ordered his dinner and a pint. It was good food and did not disappoint him. He finished the meal, paid the bill and loaded another pipe. He went out the door and walked to the bus stop. While he waited for the  bus he enjoyed his pipe.

It did not take too long to get home and when he arrived he saw that Mrs. Conti had been there and left a note for him. She had put some food that she had prepared in the refrigerator. He figured he would eat it the next day. She was very kind to him and understanding of his idiosyncrasies. She also mentioned in her note that the urologist had called to change the appointment to the next morning. He needed to be at the office on Broadway near Vancouver General Hospital by 10am the next day. He poured himself a scotch, reloaded his pipe and went into the parlour to sit and enjoy the pipe and drink. He sat in his chair and sipped on both the drink and the pipe. It was good to be able to be free of the initial paralysis caused the news and face it head on. He resolved that he would not spend a lot of time worrying about the morning’s appointment. It was good enough to know that tomorrow he would get informed about what was next on the agenda. He finished his drink and his pipe and laid them aside. He made his way up the stairs to bed and actually fell quickly to sleep.

He woke in the morning and did his morning ritual – prayers, coffee and pipe before his shower. He finished those and dressed for the urology appointment. He filled another pipe went out the front door. He lit it before heading down the steps and quickly made his way to the street to walk to the appointment. It would not take too long to get there so he could grab a coffee on his way there. He was ready to learn about this new chapter of his life and move to accepting what it would mean for him. It would have been too much to say that the unknown did not scare him or make him nervous; however he was ready to enter this part of life knowing that the work he had done on the previous day had given him a sense of serenity. He stopped by and visited his favourite barrista and got his usual Americano Misto. He paused outside the door to relight his pipe and continued down Broadway to the Doctor’s office. He sat on the bus bench outside the door of the medical centre and finished both the coffee and the pipe. He had plenty of time before his appointment and to be honest, though he wanted to know he still did not want to rush.

When he finished he put the coffee cup in the trash and his pipe in his pocket and caught the elevator to the third floor to meet “his urologist”. When he came through the door the clerk he had spoken to asked him to sign in and take a seat. It was not long before the doctor came out to get him. He was a little man dressed in scrubs with a grin on his face. It was the kind of face that showed he walked through life bemused. Together they walked back to an examination room. He took a seat and the Doctor closed the door. He was far less abrupt than his clerk. Father Tom told him of the shocking phone call and the Doctor chuckled and said it was hard to get good help. He then walked Tom through the options ahead of him. Really there were two choices – one was radiation of the cancer cells in his prostate with relative success and the other was a radical prostectomy – cutting into his abdomen and removing the cancerous gland. Ultimately the choice was his to make but the Doctor said he personally leaned to the surgical solution as he had seen excellent results with little or no recurrence of the cancer. He told Father Tom that he would give him a month to think over the options and talk with people. Once he made up his mind on the option for him he could call and they would proceed. He prescribed a book called “Life with Prostate Cancer” and gave him a range of dates to book his follow-up appointment. He ended the visit with the encouraging words “I can fix this for you. This is what I am very good at. Talk with you soon.” With those words he left the room and the appointment was over.

Tom left the examination room and made the next appointment at the desk on his way out. He wanted to get this over with and was already leaning toward having the surgery. He figured that it would not hurt to read the book the doctor has spoken about and call some of his friends who had already gone through this. They would help give him an informed perspective on what was ahead for him. He took the elevator downstairs to the drug store and bought the book that had been recommended. Even the title reminded him of the horrid posters in the biopsy area at the hospital – Life with Prostate Cancer. He glanced through the titles of the chapters and figured it would give him a clear picture of what lay ahead for him. He put the book in his coat pocket and pulled out his pipe. Under the watchful eye of the pharmacist he nodded and went outdoors. He filled his pipe and lit it.

He stood outside on the sidewalk puffing while his pipe began to smolder. He thought about his options for the day. It was only a little after 11am and he had the afternoon ahead of him with no more appointments. He was not far from his favourite tobacconist so he thought would be a good option for him. He made up his mind and started his walk to the shop. As he walked there was a an internal struggle going on inside of him – part was dreading even dealing with the future ahead of him and another part doggedly wanted to move forward. It was the proverbial battle denial and facing the truth. He decided to put it aside for a bit, he needed a break before he tried to figure things out and read the book. From the chapter headings he knew that it would clearly spell out the path ahead, but he was not ready for that. He tamped and relit his pipe walked down the hill to the tobacco shop. Perhaps he would find one of the crew there he could speak with… no matter. Time would tell.

Refurbishing a Lane Era Charatan’s Make “Special” # 260 DC

Blog by Paresh Deshpande

The next pipe that caught my attention was a CHARATAN’S which was in the box of pipes which I had received from my Uncle. This Dublin has beautiful birdseye on the sides and beautiful densely packed cross grains on the front and back of the bowl and also along the shank. The bowl delicately flares up towards the rim top and together with a subtle bend to the double step saddle stem, lends this pipe a lovely Dublin shape with a charm and grace that can be seen on a well crafted pipe from this quality brand!!!The pipe is stamped “CHARATAN’S MAKE” over “LONDON ENGLAND” over “SPECIAL” in block capital letters on the left side of the shank. Further towards the bowl on the same side, it is stamped with the letter “L” inside a circle in cursive letter. The right side of the shank is stamped as “260DC”. The left side of the stem is stamped on the saddle with “CP” logo, with the lower half of the “C” embedded within the letter “P”. The right side on the saddle is stamped with “REGD NO” over “203573” I searched Pipedia for more information about the brand and also to try to accurately date this pipe. I have reproduced the details which I could glean from this website:

“In 1863 Frederick Charatan, a Russian / Jewish immigrant, opened a shop in Mansell Street, located in the borough of Tower Hamlets, London E1, where he began to carve Meerschaum pipes.

Charatan was the first brand to make entirely hand-made briars from the rough block to the finished pipe including the stems. The nomenclature “Charatan’s make” refers to this method of production and was meant to differ Charatan from other brands who “assembled” pipes from pre-drilled bowls and delivered mouthpieces.

On the retirement of his father in 1910 Reuben Charatan took over the family business.

In 1950 Herman G. Lane, striving to expand his business in Great Britain, made contacts with the Charatan family. Apparently Lane got a certain influence soon, but it was not until 1955 that Lane Ltd. became the sole distributor for Charatan’s in the United States superseding Wally Frank. This can be documented in a “biography” written for Herman G. Lane titled “Leaves from a Tobaccoman’s Log”.

Thanks to Herman G. Lane’s dedicated labor Charatan became hugely popular in the States. As reported by Ken Barnes in an interview with Rick Newcombe, Reuben Charatan passed away in 1962, and his widow sold the firm to Herman Lane 1 or 2 years after his death [1]. In the early 1960’s Charatan pipes were the first to overstep the $100 Dollar line in US pipe sales. In 1978 Lane’s heirs sold the Charatan company to Dunhill. The Prescot Street factory was closed in March 1982. Thereafter the fame and quality of the make declined.

The pre-Lane period (prior to 1955) and the Lane era pipes (1955 to until sometime between 1979 – 1984) are of primary interest the collector. The Lane era is often quoted as beginning about 1950. Charatan records indicate the DC (Double Comfort) bit was introduced in the 50’s, but some report seeing them in earlier production. Still others indicate they were introduced by Lane in 1960. Regardless, the DC bit is not an accurate way to date a pipe because many Charatan’s were made with regular and saddle type bits throughout the “Lane Era”.

 An excellent article, Dating of Charatans has been translated for Pipedia by Mathias Acciai. This study by Fabio Ferrara of Monterubbiano – Italy is based on more than 2000 old Charatan pipes he studied from the “Basciano stock” purchased by Mario Lubinski – Fermo. This fantastic addition to the Charatan knowledge base is now in English here on Pipedia.

The first step on dating a Charatan is to carefully look to some details:

  1. a) Shape of the mouthpiece
  2. b) marking on the mouthpiece
  3. c) engraving on the shank
  4. d)shape and position of shank engraving/writing

This is because you can make the following conclusions:

a) From 1863 to 1960 the mouthpieces have a normal shape, saddle or tapered. From 1961 they use the ‘Double Comfort’ style still used today. By the way there are some saddle bits (without the double comfort) used in pipes that date after 1960 but these models are always characterized by a X (in the place of the DC) engraved after the shape number on the shank. This means that if a pipe has a tapered mouthpiece instead of a double comfort one, it is definitely a pre-Lane pipe before 1960. While if a pipe has a normal saddle bit stem, it could belong to every era. Nevertheless the pipe is pre 1961 if the shape code does not include an X, and is a pipe from after 1960 if the X is engraved.
Finally any pipe with the double comfort stem is definitely after 1960.

b) The CP logo on the stem is stamped in a different shape according the era it was used. Some differences are less obvious than others, however the glaring differences are detectable in 4 phases. The CP till the 1960 is very fine, the C penetrates the P.
From 1961 to 1977 the CP logo is more pronounced and the C penetrates the P.
From 1980 (approx.) the C does not penetrate the P any more, even though the two letters are joined.
The CP of Dunhill era has a different shape than the one of the French Russell era.

c) Pipes that belong to eras till the 1960 have the engraving ‘CHARATAN’S MAKE LONDON ENGLAND’ in two lines, the shape code is composed by numbers only. The X and the DC appear only on pipes after 1960.

The engraving ‘MADE BY HAND (in caps) -IN-City of London’ in three lines identifies pipes made between 1965 and 1966. The engraving in script font ‘Made by Hand -In-City of London’ on three lines identifies pipes made between 1966 and 1979. The circled £ (Lane) characterizes pipes produced from 1955 to 1980 (approx.)

d) engravings are different in both size and shape, depending on eras.

Identification of a third era pipe (First Lane era, 1961-1965)

Pipes of this period are quite common.

1) The mouthpiece is frequently double comfort, rarely saddle without the double comfort, never tapered. If the stem is not a double comfort but a saddle one, it is characterized by the letter X on the right of the shape code (e.g. 2502X), naturally in this case the letters DC are not displayed.

2) In the CP logo, the C enters the P

3) Presence of £ on the shank (note that from 1955 all the pipe imported in the USA by Lane has it, however that stamping is not synonymous of the Lane era)

4) Presence of the letter DC just after the shape number (e.g. 2502 DC) or of the letter X only if the stem is not a double comfort one

5) Presence in some models of the stamp “MADE BY HAND” on the shank (introduced for the first time in 1958)

6) Presence of the writing “CHARATAN’S MAKE LONDON ENGLAND” in 2 lines

7) The CP logo is thicker than in previous eras. 

From the above information, it can be safely assumed that this particular piece dates from somewhere from 1960 to 1965, that is the first Lane Era, which coincides with the period of the other pipes that belonged to my grandfather. With this information in mind, I moved ahead to the next process in the restoration.

I always follow the advice of Mr. Steve given out in his blog on restoration process for novices like me and carry out initial visual inspection of the pipe. This helps a lot in formulating your POA for the restoration.

The bowl is heavily caked with an equally heavy overflow of lava on to the rim top. The outer edge of the rim appears to be intact save for the light charring on the left side in 9 ‘O’ clock direction. However, the inner edge of the rim is a totally different story!!!! Deep extensive charring can be seen on the inner edge in 1 ‘O’ clock direction on the right side and in 8 ‘O’ clock direction on the left side. The internal condition of the bowl and the exact extent of the char can only be ascertained after the process of reaming is completed. The stummel and the shank are covered in grime and dust of these years of use and subsequent storage, giving it a dull and lackluster appearance. This will need to be addressed. Air does not flow easily through the pipe and requires some lung power to do so. The airway in the stem and/ or in the shank is restricted and needs to be cleaned out. The stem is a Double Comfort stem which is correct for the period. Heavy calcification can be seen on the lower half of the DC stem with a few deep bite marks and lot of tooth chatter on both the lower and upper surface. The lip/ button is deformed and will need to be worked upon. All said and done, the major cause of concern which will require maximum attention and work is the rim top, rim inner edge and the extensive charring seen on the right and left inner edge!!!!

As usual, Abha, my wife took upon herself the task of reaming the bowl to get rid of all the grime, tars and oils accumulated in the chamber. Using a Kleen Reem pipe tool made short work of reaming and she was able to get rid of the thick cake. She gently removed all the remaining cake crust till she reached the briar using my fabricated knife set and thereafter sanding the chamber with a 220 grit sand paper. Thereafter, using the fabricated knife, I gently scraped and removed all the overflow of lava, tars and oil from the rim top. With hope in my heart and prayer on my lips, I gently scraped the charred wood from the inner edge on both sides till I reached solid briar. The picture below will tell the story of its condition!!!The char marks to the inner edge of the rim on the right side in 1 o’clock direction is the widest followed by the one on left side in 8 o’clock direction. The char on the outer left edge at 8 o’clock direction is not very severe. I decided to top the bowl and create a bevel on the inner edge to address these issues. I Facetimed with Mr. Steve and he too concurred with my POA.

I started by topping the bowl with a 220 grit sand paper till the charred surface on the inner as well as outer edge of the rim was reduced. Using a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper, I gave a slight bevel to the inner edge. However, I was not very pleased to see the results. The charred surfaces stood out like sore thumbs on either sides of the rim.To further mask the charred inner edges, Abha suggested creating a deeper bevel and attempt to conceal the damaged inner edge within this bevel. After viewing the pictures, Mr. Steve also approved of this plan. Thus, I created a deep bevel making sure that the charred surfaces are within this bevel. The inner edge is looking much better and presentable as can be seen in the pictures below. It took me considerable time to complete this stage since I had to frequently check the progress so that I did not end up losing too much surface off the rim top. I, thereafter, cleaned the exteriors of the stummel, rim top and shank with undiluted Murphy’s Oil soap and a toothbrush, taking care that water does not enter into the chamber and the shank. I wiped it down with a soft cotton cloth and kept it aside to dry out. Turning my attention to the stem, I started by masking the “CP” logo and the Regd No. with whitener (pics…..). I painted both the surfaces of the stem with a Bic lighter to raise the tooth chatter and bite marks to the surface. Sanding the stem with 220 grit sand paper, I evened out the surface of the stem. The deeper tooth marks were spot filled with clear CA super glue and set aside to cure overnight. Back to the stummel, I dry sanded the exteriors of the bowl, rim top and the shank with 1500 to 2400 grit micromesh pads and wet sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. The beautiful birdseye and the cross grains really popped out at this stage!!!!!(PICTUREs…..). Though the darkened areas of the inner edge caused due to charring were very much visible in pictures, in reality it does not look as bad. There is an option to further cover up the darkened areas by staining the complete bowl with a dark stain, I decided not to do so for two reasons, firstly, the pipe looked beautiful in this lighter hues with lovely grains in plain sight and secondly, I DO NOT HAVE THE MATERIAL AND EQUIPMENT FOR THE SAME and also have never tried this technique (this aspect WILL be my agenda during next leave!!!). With that decision made, I rubbed a small quantity of “BEFORE AND AFTER RESTORATION” balm into the briar surface and let it rest for 2-3 minutes for the balm to work its magic. I really feel that this is one product which every pipe smoker should have for routine maintenance of his/ her pipe. This balm infuses fresh breath of life into the briar while forming a protective layer over the briar surface. Using a soft cotton cloth and undiluted (LOL!!!) muscle power, I buffed it to a nice shine. Have a look at the bowl for yourself. With the stummel completed, save for a final polish with PARAGON WAX, I turned back towards working on the stem again. Using a flat head needle file, I sanded the fills to match the stem’s surface. I also worked on the button edge and created a crisp edge. Once I was satisfied, using micromesh sanding pads, I dry sanded the stem with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and wet sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem with moist cotton swab after every pad and rubbed in Extra Virgin Olive oil after ever three pads (Pictures….). Although I tried to take all care and precautions to preserve the stampings on the stem, I HAVE MANAGED TO OBLITERATE IT!!!!  Can anyone suggest an easy method to restore it???? Indentations are visible though, which is a saving grace!!!!Once I was finished with the stem, I cleaned out the internals of the stem and shank using Isopropyl alcohol, cue-tips, shank brush, regular and bristle pipe cleaners till air flow was open and free. Thereafter, I gave a final polish to the bowl with Paragon wax, rubbing and buffing it with a soft cloth and muscle power till cows came home!!!!!!!! The finished pipe can be seen in the pictures below. Thank you for walking with me on this journey of learning and resurrection of fond memories of my Old Man!!!!!