Sunday, January 27, 2013

My collection of cigarettes

Smoking Dog

This photo was taken by my Great Grandfather, Abraham Gunzendorfer, who was a professional photographer. I have a box of photos that are marked on the back with “Photographer, Gunzendorfer, Monterey, California” which on one hand is cool because he took them but also makes it difficult because I’m never certain if the photos were of his family or some other random people. But this photo has intrigued me, especially since the next page of the scrapbook is cigarette based.

So as I turned the page of my Grandmother's scrapbook, I came across this.

Yes, that’s right – my grandmother had a collection of cigarettes!  Why on earth I’ll never know but it is interesting that she not only saved the cigarettes but she marked them with whose brand it was.  I wonder if Carleton was a special friend since she kept two of his cigarettes – his ‘regular’ brand (St. Francis) and his ‘cheap’ brand (John Bollman Imperials).  And maybe Meyrl was another favorite since she also has two of his brands.  I think Meyrl is probably J. Meyrl Pugh, one of her classmates that I see in her high school yearbook.

Meyrl Pugh
J. Meyrl Pugh
Monterey High School Yearbook
El Susurro 1915

It amazes me that these cigarettes are still here after nearly 100 years, although if you look in the crease of the page on the left side you can see the tobacco piled up. 

And next to the page was this.

And closer up.

Cig Box 2 

Frank Ordway gave me this box the night he, Hallie, Neil & I went to the “movies” together, a week before the boys went away.  We had an awfully good time.

I know Hallie was her friend Hallie Hitchcock but who were Frank and Neil?  They don’t appear to be classmates.  One thing I’ve learned about Grandma – she had a lot of friends!

I’m guessing the other ‘treasure’ is the inside of the box.

And a close up of the outside of the box.

Philip Morris

I don’t see that any of the cigarettes were Philip Morris & Co. although I don’t see Frank Ordway’s brand, either.

Oh Grandma, why did you save these?  Did you ever imagine that your granddaughter would be looking at these nearly 100 years later? 


  1. Debi, what a curious find! No, I'm pretty sure your grandmother had no idea you'd be pondering this a century later! The scrapbooks are a treasure, though, no matter how eccentric the collector may seem through these choices--a real window into what made each of these people tick.

  2. You have got such interesting ephemera in your collection. I hope you have good storage space in your house ;-)

  3. You don't say how old your grandmother was but I can imagine an 18- or 19-year-old thinking this would be a funny thing to do and amusing her friends with her page. On the other hand, had I saved a scrapbook page like this when I was in my late teens, I'm certain I would have parted with it a decade or two later. Your grandmother was an interesting lady!

  4. While this is all very insightful about your grandmother and her many friends, the cigarette history is equally interesting, regardless of what we might think about the connection to cancer and all that. The brands, their markings - lots of history and social commentary to ponder there.