Monday, November 22, 2010

Rolling Cigars

Today's picture was taken in 1939, and shows people rolling cigars. The picture was taken at the "De Hoas" Cigar factory in Kfar Ata, Israel.

Even today, the best cigars are made the old fashioned way . . . by hand. Machines can not make really good ones. There is a cigar shop in San Antonio where they have a set up very similar to the one in this picture, and you can watch as they roll up perfect cigars.


  1. "What this country needs is a good five-cent cigar."
    Thomas Marshall, Vice Pres. 1913-1921

  2. Isn't it silly that we do not have trade relations with Cuba when we recognize nearly every other brutal regime (including China!)? Of course, it is politics as usual.
    Additionally, if a refugee from any country comes to our shores and is apprehended, they get shipped back to from where they came, but any Cuban who gets to our shores gets automatic citizenship. WHat a shame.

  3. Anon:

    I agree with you totally, and I made a similar observation yesterday, which appears below:

    Re the cigars, it is definitely true that Cuban cigars are better - and cigars in general are coming back into vogue as “sophisticated.” My husband is now at an age when he and his buddies find it “cool” to smoke cigars at the bar at our beach club; and several upscale “cigar lounges” have opened around here.

    Although it is still illegal to import Cuban cigars (as it is considered “trading with the enemy”), they are still available in the US - it’s sort of like bootlegging during prohibition. You can purchase Cuban cigars everywhere else in the world, including Canada, Mexico, and the Carribean. Personally, I don’t see what the big deal is - people buy them in other places and then smuggle them back in their luggage. I’m not admitting to anything, but I’ve seen it done.

    And, this brings me to another sore point - I, and many others, think it is a ridiculous waste of time for the United States to continue to impose a travel embargo on Cuba - it’s pointless and hypocritical. When I was younger (before Castro), Cuba was one of the most beautiful vacation destinations in the world, and members of my family went there all the time.

    Technically, it isn’t even illegal to travel to Cuba, but it is illegal to spend money there (again, the “trading with the enemy” thing). You are supposed to get permission from the Treasury Department and it has to be for work, journalism, or humanitarian aid. I don’t see what the point is - we are allowed to travel to countries like Russia (where they hate us), China (which is communist), the Middle East, and even Vietnam, where they slaughtered our servicemen. I’ve even been to Venezuela on vacation. And . . . .every other country in the world allows travel to Cuba,.which has some of the most beautiful resorts in the world -so what’s the point?

    Each year, almost 83,000 Americans visit Cuba - with about 20,000 to 30,000 doing so illegally, mostly by going from Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean. There are ways to get there without getting caught - by going through a third country - people do it all the time. And the Cubans welcome the Americans and their money and don’t stamp your passport.

    I intend to make it to Cuba one way or another in my lifetime. If they don’t lift the embargo, I’ll eventually take my chances - the worst they can do is fine you.

  4. I had no idea there were cigar factories in Israel at that time. (Although I'm not sure Israel is the right nomenclature for 1939 - the year of the White Paper.)

  5. From Nat Sherman: "...America has supported and has been supported by tobacco farming since the 17th Century. Some of the first tobacco plantations in the south date back to about 1610. Around the same time period, tobacco cultivation began in the Connecticut Valley, where some of the finest cigar wrapper leaf is still grown.

    During the American Revolution, tobacco loans were the major financial support behind the First and Second Continental Congress. Tobacco revenue also helped finance the war, and it was tobacco that helped stimulate the post-Revolutionary economy in the infant American democracy. Back in Europe, the custom of smoking cigars made in Spain spread rapidly in the early 18th Century. By the turn of the 19th Century, cigar manufacture had spread north to France and Germany, roughly matching the growth of the U.S. cigar industry.

    In the early 19th Century, as European demand for high-quality product rose, Cuba began a shift from tobacco exporter to cigar manufacturer. By then, cigar smoking had become such a widely accepted facet of social life among the upper classes that smoking rooms were introduced in gentlemen's clubs. By the turn of the 20th Century, the "after-dinner cigar" had become an evening tradition throughout the European continent.

    But, despite the cigar's ascendancy in Europe, it took some celebrity endorsements to help the cigar custom gain a firm foothold on this side of the Atlantic. To that end, the first celebrity cigar endorser here was probably President U.S. Grant, who did more than any previous American to popularize the cherished 'cheroot'...

  6. Appropos of nothing (just jumping in here), when I was a kid here in north Florida, they grew shade tobacco (it looked like cheesecloth over the fields) and they told us that they were used to make the outer wraps of cigars. They apparently shipped it to Tampa to their cigar factories. It hasn't been grown here for years, but I loved riding in the car when I was a kid and seeing the covered fields.

  7. Hi there; about the comment on this photo, Israel was creted on 1948. Regards

  8. I just can't put 'tastes good' or 'smells good' in the same thought as a cigar...

  9. A few things seem to stand out in this picture as not authentic.

    1. The first girl's watch, and the placement of her ear-ring, do not appear to suggest 1939, but more likely a modern staged photo.

    2. The board on top of the desk appears to be a modern planed 12" pine shelf board, which would seem somewhat out of place, while the rest of the desk appears to be more authentic vintage rough sawn wood.

    3. The second girl appears to be wearing a t-shirt beneath her apron.

  10. Please . . . I don't think people are running around faking pictures of Middle East cigar rooms from 1939.

    The picture was taken by the American Colony in Jerusalem, by Eric Matson. It is part of a collection of photos from about 1900 to 1945.

    No, it is not staged.