How I Met the Yankee Inhaler
Adventures during my teenage years were often energized with a healthy inhale of Cannabis. The summer of 1977 featured some memorable shenanigans and a cool cannabis pipe I have not seen since.
My 17th year was a typical for a teenager of the 70s with the required amount of rebellion and angst. I was fortunate to spend the end of my summer hanging around in Vermont far away from my parents and in the company of locals Kevin and Rob. It was a magical time with strong memories of a carefree farewell to the last summer of my high school years.
One particular evening, Kevin, Rob and I hunkered around a backyard fire pit. Blue Oyster Cult was blasting from Rob’s car in concert with a choir of nocturnal insects. The fireside discussion settled upon a rumored pot patch. Apparently, there was a small garden growing against a farm house on a lonely section of road just outside of town. Before long, the three us packed into the getaway vehicle and were on our way to stealing some weed. We loudly sang “Don’t Steal My Reefer” as BOC’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper” raged on the car’s tortured speakers.
Since I was the youngest of the group, I was selected as the designated thief. I would cut the weed, run to the road where the getaway car would pull up for the pickup and we would flee into the night with our green booty.
With Bowie knife in hand, I jumped from the vehicle and slipped into the pasture beside the target. I watched as Kevin and Rob drove out of sight then proceeded toward the house. I crept through the tall grass and up to the small garden. Sure enough there were Cannabis plants growing amongst the tomatoes and squash. I went to work chopping the stems and gathering up the 6 foot plants one by one. With my arms straining to contain the giant harvest and the crime fully engaged, my heightened senses detected what may have been a screen door squeal… Panic time.
In a flash of fear, I dropped the knife and sprinted toward the open pasture clutching my ill gotten gain. With such a bail of Cannabis in my arms combined with the darkness of night it was impossible to see where I was running. At full teen speed, I ran blindly through the field fueled by fear. The first fall was a spectacular cartwheel into a large ditch that appeared without warning. I never let go of the precious cargo, landing atop the bundle. With an athletic snap to my feet, I was running again before I even knew I was upright.
The adrenalin surge was real and my romp through the pasture was nearing its end. I could see headlights on the road ahead. Then my feet made contact with an extremely large and still moist cow pie. Anyone familiar with farm life will tell you a cow’s poop has the coefficient of friction similar to the banana peel. Upon entering the “pie”, my feet were propelled forward at 10 times the rate of the rest of my body. With cartoon-like choreography, I was launched into the air, hovering above the ground just long enough to realize the next instant was going to be unpleasant.
With a an extremely squishy splat, I landed on my back into the enormous pile of dung. But the weed was safe. Back on my feet and quickly toward the approaching lights, I ignored the pain and odor as I saw salvation ahead. I reached the edge of the field and jumped out into the road.
The vehicle drew closer and I was looking directly into the lights, impairing my vision. I did not care… I got the weed and I was home free. I stood in the road so my getaway vehicle could pick me up as planned. The car pulled up slowly. Peering around the bundle of contraband, I focused on my ride.
It was not Kevin and Rob.
As the mysterious car pulled up, I saw the driver window go down and the unknown occupant staring disbelievingly at the walking bush before them. There was nothing I could do but stare back. And the car pulled away quickly with a chirp and a leap into the darkness. I believe my mouth was still open when Kevin and Rob drove up a minute later, their hysterical laughing echoing across the valley.
Standing on a dark and lonely back road in Vermont covered with cow shit and desperately grasping an enormous bundle of stolen weed, I planned my next move as my laughing transport came to a stop. I was not amused. Neither was Rob when I fumbled the door open, flopped across his back seat and commanded him to drive.
Before Rob’s foot hit the gas pedal, the stench from my cow shit covered self hit his nose. It must have struck Kevin’s nose as well as suddenly the laughing stopped and the gagging began. I ignored their over-animated retching and continued to scream for a hasty get away. I was still clutching the cannabis lying across the back seat, unable to move. With a squeal, Rob took off toward the only destination the made sense.
When Rob pulled into the parking lot of the 24 hour laundry mat I was sure I was in the company of a genius.
It was 2AM. Not a soul in sight. I was covered in cow shit. There was weed that needed to be dried. We had quarters. There really was no other place we could go. Rob dug out a pillow case and some gnarly gym shorts out from his trunk. I stumbled from the car, still clutching the precious bundle and headed into the all night laundry with my two chuckling accomplices.
The plan was simple… we would dry all the weed by stuffing the pillow case and throwing it into the dryer. I would be able to wash my cow shit clothes at the same time. Again, genius.
We went to work stripping off the foliage and stuffing the pillowcase. The weed was clearly not ready as there were but tiny flowers. We didn’t care. Some of the leaves were huge and we stuck them on the windows and walls like cling-on decals. I remember the amazement I experienced at the adhesive quality of wet pot leaves as we decorated the laundry room.
We had been in that laundry mat drying our stash for a while. The entire space reeked of cannabis. Stems littered the floor and the windows and walls were decorated like a Rastafarian day care. We were just wrapping up our stay at the washeteria when Kevin called out for our attention. It appears there was a vehicle on its way down the long access road to the laundry. Somehow Kevin could tell it was a “Statie” from that distance. We did not question his vision and sprung into action.
I grabbed my moist clothes, Kevin grabbed the weed. Rob was already headed to the car for the second get away of the evening. We quickly piled into the vehicle leaving the laundry covered in pot leaves and smelling like a hippie hoedown. It was eerily quiet as Rob drove down that long dirt access road toward the approaching police cruiser.
We passed the Vermont State Police officer without incident. Maybe he was headed in to do his laundry? We didn’t care… When Rob reached the end of the dirt road, he squealed onto the main road and sped toward Kevin’s house. He parked out back and we hunkered down in the getaway car. We waited there for some sort of police action but none happened. We had gotten away with it and now have a big ole pillowcase of weed.
There was only one thing left to do…
We sat in the car, with Blue Oyster Cult breaking the silence once again. Kevin was in the back with his hands in the sack of weed. Rob leaned across the front seat and gave his glovebox a healthy “thwam”. The door swung down and a funky shape fell out into Rob’s waiting hand.
What is THAT?
Rob was grasping the oddly shaped piece of wood as he motioned to Kevin for the sack of weed. When Kevin held the pillowcase open, Rob stuck his hand in and pinched a generous plug of pot. He filled the hole in the wood and finished with a tap of the thumb. Rob held up the wooden bowl and flicked open his Zippo light with a satisfying “snick”.
I watched the glow of the Zippo flame illuminate Rob as he brought the mystery to his lips. The way he cradled the pipe was unlike any smoker I’ve seen. As if he was about to blow on a trumpet, Rob “kissed” the odd mouth piece and puffed a few clouds from the smokestack in his hand.
As Rob handed the smoking wooden shape to me, he explained that this was his “no wetness” pipe. I “kissed” the bowl and inhaled deeply. A satisfying yet somewhat ambitious lungful had me coughing like a newbie. Rob laughed and urged me to “go easy”. Kevin joined in and said with authority “If you don’t cough, you don’t get off.”
We passed that hunk of wood around for hours, filling the car with smoke in true hotbox perfection. I really liked that bowl and pressed Rob for the details on its origin. As it turns out, Rob worked in a furniture shop and used the lathe and a scrap chunk of cherry wood on his lunch break to craft his little smoker. Kevin and I urged Rob to make more, assuring him he could sell hundreds.
I never saw Rob or Kevin since then but those memories remain. I always hoped to see that bowl again but it was never to be. Which is why I have decided to resurrect that pipe from my memory. It seemed only natural to name the pipe the Yankee Inhaler as it has Yankee origins and kinda looks like an inhaler used by asthmatics.
Look for a new, hand crafted Yankee Inhaler smoker coming soon.