Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cigar Store Indian

Cigar Store Native American doesn’t quite cut it, does it. Saw this fellow outside a tobacconist on Barclay Street, across the Hudson. Wall Street, that area, the N.Y. Financial District, the lowest of lower NYC, has that real old time knickerbocker style, strip steaks and good scotch and a few bars of daisy, daisy in barber shop harmony like we sang wearing raccoon coats in the glee club of our fraternity, before we were forced to let in the Jews and the Irish. Bought our tobacco from the tobacconist down the street, the one with the Cigar Store Indian. I read a history article about the cigar store Indian. Tobacco was our first cash crop, kind of built the country. Smoking took off in Europe, and it was always associated with Native Americans, the New World savages. The Cigar Store Indian was early American branding, distinguishing the USA product from Turkish blends. While the feather headdresses and garb could be seen in lithographs and early photographs, no one knew the exact color of Native American skin because most Europeans had never seen an actual Injun. So they made the skin tone closer to the Africans they did know. Judging by the fringe on this guy, this is a latter model—the fringe and buckskin indicate a Plains Indian, not as well known during the colonial era. I like the breast plate, which was decorative but not just ornamental, it was made of bones and acted as armor. And of course, the pipe and the tobacco pouch of course—would have went into the store to see if I could get some inquiries answered but I’m an ex-smoker and never liked cigars so going inside this store just didn’t seem like the best idea. Sort of like smoking. Very enjoyable but still not a good idea.

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