Cigars, Farts and Monkeys


How was your week? Average? Inconsequential? A bore?

Mine was, typically, bizarre.

There were three stories I covered this, raucously public and the other two almost completely cloistered. If you didn’t know how to find them, you never would. There is nothing really so satisfying to me as walking into a space where quiet industry rules the day and bringing a bit of that to a television audience.

So my week started at the only place in the country that still makes hand-rolled Cuban cigars. It’s a sepia-toned enclave that’s been quietly crafting cigars for generations. There’s no big retail outlet for this kind of thing anymore. This product is more-or-less custom ordered. But you could almost squeeze the atmosphere out of the place after you walked in. It doesn’t smell like smoke. It smells like ageing Cuban tobacco leaves, wonderfully aromatic. I watched a woman roll a cigar in less than four minutes…and that’s not easy. This woman has been working at the factory since she was a teen. She’s been there 18 years! There are customers who will only order the cigars that this particular woman rolls. I love it !

The second story was found at Canada’s largest toy show. It’s not an event that’s open to the public . Retailers come here to talk to manufacturers and see if they can spot the next big thing. And in the middle of the biggest names in the toy industry was one tiny booth manned by a mother and daughter team…who called themselves The Farties. They have created comic book characters to help teach children about displaying proper manners when one erupts. They, apparently, have found ready audiences of adults and kids at libraries, and daycare name it. And they were (what my father used to call) a couple of pistols! So I ignored the manufacturing mavens and devoted the entire story to The Farties. How could you not?

A kinder, gentler (definitely quieter) tone for the third tale. Did you ever have a sock monkey? I did…although damned if I can remember what became of it. I talked to a sock money historian to wind up the week. In addition to knowing the complete back story on this most cherished childhood memento, this artist has probably made and sold about 1,000 knitted simians. The sock monkey image can now be found on everything from umbrellas to wine bags but, for the purists, the gangly-armed, red-lipped doll, made from those crimson-heeled American work socks have always been the benchmark. The Canadian version of that was made from wool socks with red stripes around the ankles…which produced a sock monkey with rosy hands and feet.

The things you learn.

It’s a crazy world!


3 Responses to “Cigars, Farts and Monkeys”

  1. It sure is a crazy world Dave! Saw the farties story…cute! I remember hearing the cigar story from the other room and somehow managed to miss your sock Monkey offering đŸ˜¦ However, I did find a picture of someone who had painted their nails as sock monkeys! Wish I could share it with you, they sure are making a big comeback! Have a wonderful weekend , as always, so nice to read your blog đŸ™‚

  2. Gail Carey Says:

    hi Dave,

    Ha! Cigars, farts and monkeys………..I LOVE IT! To answer your question, my week was average. Finished painting another doll and have one waiting to be rooted. Definitely not as interesting as yours.

    Allan and I went to a cigar factory in SanFrancisco de Paula in Cuba a few years ago and I know what you mean about the smell. WOW. Pungent is the word that comes to mind. Everyone making cigars there was female. Of course, all of the bosses were men. I did not know we had a cigar factory here in the Great White North!

    I’ve never owned one of those sock monkeys. Not sure if I would want to. Not even the Canadian version. I’ll have to get me one of those books by The Farties though. I don’t ever remember the folks teaching me proper fart behaviour. I usually just hold ’em if I’m in public cause they’re nasty if ya know what I mean. LOL

    My week would have been a hell of a lot better if I could have watched you on the tele in the mornings. Oh well……..I suppose I’ll get used to it.

    take care,

  3. Nice to see you posting again and to see this place back. Interesting week you had.

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