My Years With Proto Pipe
Always a marijuana smoker and a gadget fan, I was instantly attracted to the Proto Pipe. The ultimate pot smokers’ pocket “tool”, the Proto Pipe represents the perfect marriage of functionality and design.
I first saw the “ad” for the Proto Pipe in Dr Atomic’s Pipe and Dope Book, an underground comic by Larry Todd, creator of “Dr Atomic”. I knew I had to have one of my own. I got a postal money order, sent it off to Willits, CA and anxiously waited for my Proto.
When the package finally arrived, I was sent a notice to pick it up at the Post Office. Uh Oh. The “Feds” knew there was a marijuana pipe in the box. I was freaking out.
Keep in mind this was 1977. Drug paraphernalia was as illegal as the drugs themselves. I was stressing out over picking up the package. I gathered up all my courage and went in.
As it turned out, there was a COD charge (I could’ve figured that out if I read the pick up notice.) Apparently the Protopipe price had increased since the 1975 release date of the comic book ad. I paid the extra three bucks and grabbed my treasure.
The Proto Pipe was even better than I imagined. I was so elated with my purchase, I immediately bought a dozen more. The Proto Pipe company set up their own distribution system by giving deep discounts on multiple purchases. I received my dozen and sold them out in a day. I sold so many Proto Pipes that year, it seemed everybody had one. I was also the source for spare parts as most stoners lost the poker within a week.
I had 2 Proto Pipes for nearly 40 years, using one almost daily and the other put away as a spare. In 2014, I had one taken from me after a friend went through a stop sign without stopping. The police pulled us over, my friend was arrested for an outstanding warrant and I lost my beloved Protopipe. I also received a $100 fine for possession. One of the police officers was training another. He picked up the Proto and described it to the younger officer as a “one hitter”. I scoffed inwardly. My Proto Pipe was nearly twice the age of that policeman. It was all I could do to keep my mouth shut and not correct the officer.
Today, a genuine Proto Pipe can only be found on eBay or other “collector” sites. You will pay well over $100 for an original. There are a couple of copies out there but nothing will replace the Proto Pipe manufactured in Willits, California.