One night after supper Daddy began to cough up blood. I could hear Mother insisting the next morning he go straight to the company hospital. Luck was with him, and Dr. Hyde was there to treat him.
When he got home Mother wouldn’t leave him alone until he told her what the doctor said. I tiptoed to where I could hear them.
Daddy stammered a little, and said, “Doc Hyde looked me straight in the eye and said, ‘Edd, there’s nothing I can do for you. What you need to do is stop smoking. If you don’t, you’re going to die pretty quick. I don’t like my patients to die on me, so if you won’t quit, don’t come back to see me. Now get back to work.’”
Mother was surprised, “He really said that? What are you going to do?”
Daddy took his two cartons of Camels and put them into the hot coals of the kitchen stove. Then he placed a large red can of Prince Albert pipe tobacco in the center of our fireplace mantel.
He looked at Mother and swore, “I promise I will never smoke again. My promise to you and that Prince Albert Can will remind me to never smoke again, and I hope it will teach the two boys to never start.”
Mother asked, “Why don’t you tell them that at the supper table tonight?”
He grinned, “I can do that.”
For years I would see Daddy take out a packet of peanuts occasionally and place three or four peanuts in his mouth, but I never saw him smoke again.
All my teenage years classmates would try to start me smoking. As they talked, I would remember seeing Daddy with blood running down his chin. Needless to say, I never even tried just to smoke one.
The bad news is my brother Chuck didn’t see Daddy when Daddy was sick. Chuck started smoking in high school. It wasn’t long until he was smoking two packs a day. Chuck was born on my eighth birthday. He never stopped until he died. He didn’t live long enough to retire.
“Don’t smoke” was one of the many lessons my wonderful Daddy taught me.