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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Why I make pipes

Today's photo is a sneak preview of one of the Talbert Briars from the next website update. After Rheinbach, I thought it would be fun to make some lighter, more unusual pipes for a change of pace, as we work to finally get some new stock into all three of our website catalogs.

Why do I make pipes? There are lots of reasons. It's fun, I get to be my own boss, I love working with the wood, and I get to do something creative for a living. However, there's another motivation that I don't speak of often, because it borders perhaps on the squeaky New Agey realm, and that is that I believe that making other people happy is a good thing to do in this life. Good karma, if you will. All over the world now, there are people who come home from a long, maybe difficult, perhaps even traumatic day, and cap off their evening by spending a few restful minutes with a drink and one of my pipes... Something that I made gives them a few minutes of relaxation and peace. I believe this is a good purpose, possibly even one of the best purposes we can hope for in a lifetime. But I don't talk about it much, because so often the world of pipe collecting gets bogged down in the bickering, forum wars, and minutia obsession that it's easy to lose sight of the noblest purposes of the hobby, at least until you get an email like this one:

From Louise Gariépy,
Hi!
I am Hans Peter Strobl's wife. We talked a little bit when Peter ordered his last pipe from you

I am sad to tell you that Peter did not receive your last message.

When he ordered the pipe, I don't know if you knew it, he was in the Hospital, going through a necessary but dangerous procedure: a stem cell transplant. He had a been fighting a very resistant lymphoma since more than 2 years, and this stem cell transplant was the only hope, not that he could be cured, but might life a year or 2 longer..

He came out of the hospital Friday the 13th of July, seemed pretty well, but only 8 days later, he died of a heart attack probably provoked by a deterioration of his red cells, because he felt much better in the first days out of the hospital, but started feeling abnormally weak 6 days later.

He admired your work so much, and at least I can tell you that your pipe had come timely, he was extremely happy with it, and had a chance to smoke it at least once. As a matter of fact, it is the last pipe that he smoked before he died, and he did it with great joy!
Had the pipe arrived a few days later, it would have come too late, and my heart would have been still more broken, if possible.

I do not know you, and do not know much about pipes, except that it was his life-long passion.

Had he lived, he probably could not have resisted the pleasure of buying another of your beautiful pipes ( he showed me your web site so often), I wanted you to know that if you never hear again from him, it was not because he did not like the pipe!

Maybe when you build your next pipe, please think about him for a few seconds.

Be happy and healthy as long as possible,

Louise Gariépy

There isn't much more I can say to this very moving letter, except to the line, "Maybe when you build your next pipe, please think about him for a few seconds."
I definitely will.

5 comments:

  1. Dear Trever when I read it tears were in my throat.

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  2. You made someone happy before he definitely leave this world. Woaw, I can't retain a pinching in the heart...

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  3. Joerg Wittkamp8/21/2007 9:05 AM

    Hi Trever,
    there is no better reason for doing such good work.....
    Best, Joerg

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  4. Trever and Peter had a more in common that I would have thought:
    Both living away from their birth country, both loving pipes, both fantastic craftsmen (although not in the same field) and above all, both with so much heart and faithfulness to their friends.

    Thank you all for your comments.
    It's like if members of another of his communities hugged me for a last time, I need that so much!

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  5. Dear Trever,

    after reading your post and before I wrote this I had to clear my throat. I think the letter you shared with us touches the very core of the hobby (or the profession) we have in common. Our pipes and everything around them is something we are passionate about, often to a degree where aspects of sensibility are left far behind.

    It is this joy and passion that, at least the way I look at it, drives all of us. There is more to our hobby than briar, vulcanite and tobacco. Put these parts together, and the result is much more than a whiff of aromatic smoke.

    I can't find anything "new-agey" in being prized by the joy and happiness of others for the work one does. On the contrary, to reach this state (and were it only once) would reward any effort on the way.


    Dear Louise,

    my thoughts are with you in these hard times. Losing the one you love most, the one you shared your life with is the hardest thing of all. A big hug for you from a total stranger!

    Warmest regards,

    Martin

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