EVERYONE WHO smokes knows that the Surgeon General has determined that cigarette smoking is dangerous to your health. It should be added that it sould be added that matchbooks can also cause trouble.
For a time the matchbooks that came along with the cigarettes in the office machines were advertising a office machines were advertising a well-known motel in Ocean City, and a few unwary smokers were aksed by close friends in nasty tones, "When were you there?"
Some explanations get people deeper into trouble, so the only thing to do is to try to get as many matchbooks advertising the motel as possible and flood the scene with them.
The matches come to you from almost everywhere: baks, funeral homes, restaurants, bars, hotels, motels, department stores, grocery stores and drug stores, wedding . . . You have to cope as best you can.
Some get people's curiosity up and some don't. When the Ocean City motel matchbooks stopped they were replaced by a driver's school advertisement, but no one asked. "Taking driving lessons again, huh?" And there are matchbooks urging veterans to study at home, but nobody asks a veteran when he produces a light. "Which 12 ways are you trying to better uourself?"
The cigar store I once frequented provided matchbooks advertising a place called Harold's in Las Vegas. On the few trips a friend of mine made to Las Vegas he told me he purposely avoided Harold's so that he could honestly say he had never been there.
To find out about the production of matchbooks I talked to Tom Lane, who is 77 years old and has been regional sales manager for the American-Supeior Match Associates in the Washington area for 37 years.
"Its a big business," he said. "To fill the orders we have 28 regional sales offices with two major factories, one in Chicago to handle the East and the other in Los Angeles for the West."
Advertising matchbooks come in three sizes. The regular size is 20 matches to a book, 30 is the next caliber, and 40 is the best and is mostly used as a business card.
THe price of matchbooks can range from as low as $12 per thousand to $100 per thousand. Orders can vary from as few as 50 books to a customer to 50 million books.
When the matches are ready at the main plant they are sent to the regional offices.
The advertising on the matchbooks is described to potential purchasers who might be liquor, tobacco or duo potential purcahsers who might be liquor, tobacco or drug stores and vending machine companies.
Liquor stores do not want headache advertising and Mom and Pop, stores frown on liquor, wine or beer advertising.
For a while during my youth i became a matchbook hobbyist and had quite a collection going, having hadgered friends and relatives who traveled to bring back just one small matchbook from a hotel or restaurant or club they visited.
Like a stamp collector. I found this hobby kind of put me in touch with America and even some other parts of the world.
It wasn't an intense, time-consuming hobby, but every once in a while on a rainy Sunday afternoon I would get cut my shoe boxes and spread the matchbooks out on the bed to see how many major cities, states and foreign countries I had.
Some of the prize covers were in a separate box, and even at the age of 12 I could wonder what the Stork Club in New York or the Pump Room in Chicago were really like.
One Sunday I went to the closet to get my collection and it was gone. My mother said she had given it to a relative.
At the time my cousin was in a popular Massachusetts reformatory being detoured for a few years from the path of life he had chosen to follow.
I very seldom had the courage to ask my mother. "Why?" when she did something, but on this day I did.
"Because he has nothing to do up there and he needs a hobby," she went on to explain. "You're outside and he's cooped up all day, and this will keep him busy."
So I lost my first and only hobby, but for some reason it made sense.
Then there was the guy I knew who had 1,000 matchbooks printed to commemorate his wedding day. He had the name of his bride and his own name printd in gold letters on a white background.
A month after the marriage she ran off with a bus driver, but being frugal he kept and used the matches.For weeks after she left, every time he lit a cigarette he would look at the matches and say. "That rat."