K is for Kents and the creek: I learn to smoke. Eleventh of 26 posts in the April 2021 Blogging From #AtoZChallenge. Theme: “Endwell: My Early Teen Years”— adding my story to the family history mix. Please join me on the journey.
In the summer when school was out, I spent much more time on my block. And by the early 1960s, many of the Baby Boom kids on the street were now teens like me — trying to model adult behaviors and figure out where we fit in.
At some point in our early teens, one of the cool, grown-up things we all tried was smoking cigarettes down by the creek at the end of our street. And this opened up a whole new world of deception and subterfuge to outwit our unsuspecting parents.
Where to get cigarettes?
On the block, we were already veterans of cooperative endeavors from our childhood Halloween Mayhem campaigns. To try smoking as teens, we also had to put our heads together to figure out where and how to get cigarettes.
A few of the parents were smokers, so it was easy enough for some of the neighborhood teens to pilfer one or two cigarettes from a pack here and there — which we would pass around, each of us taking a puff (but nobody inhaling).
My dad, who was a Kent smoker, was trying to quit — so all he had was one reserve “temptation” pack in the house. I pilfered one or two cigarettes from that — but then I had to stop or he’d figure it out.
None of this pilfering resulted in an adequate supply — so a new plan was hatched. One of the younger siblings would be drafted to make a trip to the store for a whole pack — someone old enough to walk up to Main Street alone, but young enough that the local store owner could see they were clearly not going to smoke.
Next was forging a note from the kid’s mother saying the cigarettes were for her — then pooling our allowance and babysitting money to pay for the smokes. Amazingly, this plan worked! And more than once, if I remember correctly.
Avoiding the parents
The creek was an ideal, secluded place for smoking. It was surrounded by woods at the end of the street — and our parents never went there. But we still lived in fear of being caught.
To protect my teen co-conspirators and avoid my parents’ prying eyes, I even invented a secret symbol in my diary to indicate when I had smoked — so they wouldn’t catch on if they happened to read it.
One teen got caught
But not everyone was good at subterfuge — and one of the funniest smoking episodes involved a teen girl up the block.
One winter — when it was too cold for the creek — she was periodically smoking in secret up in her room, then dropping the butts out the window into the snow.
Then spring came, the snow melted and her dad went berserk when he found the pile of butts under her window. Yikes! That was the talk of the street for weeks.
The creek: our teen refuge
Fortunately, although I enjoyed the intrigue of sneaking around, I wasn’t too crazy about smoking and never took it up.
But I still have fond memories of going down to the creek — where we teens could get away from our folks, try something new and exercise a bit of independence as we grew toward adulthood.
Up next, L is for Line dancing and Long distance friendships. Please leave a comment, then join me as Endwell: My Early Teen Years unfolds one letter at a time!
© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.