I’m probably just old enough to be part of the last generation that would remember the classic American tobacco shop. You know with the jars of loose tobacco, and racks of pipes, shelves of cigars in boxes, a carousel of Zippo lighters and the obligatory candy case. It some of the few memories with my grandfather. The ones I remember had a horse ride for the children that cost a nickel, a bubble gum machine that coast a penny, and of course the 6 foot wooden Indian. There were a few in my neighborhood that I remember, but this one in particular I believe was called Optima. I guess one of the things I remember was the smell, the odor of pipe tobacco, sweat, and pleasant. I still have my grandfather’s pipe stand and the tobacco jar that sits in the middle of it. It holds the pipe that I bought as a teenager when I was trying to find my identity. The store was surrounded by many things that might fit this type of thinking, it was near the el train at Myrtle and Wyckoff Ave in Ridgewood NY. Across the street was the newspaper stand, and on yet another corner was the shoe shine. Another of the nostalgic Americana that has all but falling by the wayside. Colette’s ice cream store with cases of knickknacks, and candy. Life was so simple then, everything was sold at a specialty store, and everyone knew everyone. Well the Mercer Museum had a collection of these guardian sentinels of the smoke shop. I’ve captured them and worked them into a collection here. I hope if you’re old enough that they bring back good memories like these did for me. And if you’re not, my hope is that they raise a curiosity about them that would ask you to google them and see a little more of this by gone era.