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"Target:" Good to the Last Puff

by Eva Pasco

Man, the Sixties were smokin’! Winston became the best-selling cigarette brand in the United States, holding the no. 1 spot from 1966 – 1972, thanks to its successful marketing slogan: “Winston tastes good like a (clap clap) cigarette should.” We Sixties kids had an unfiltered, smoke ring-side seat watching The Flintsones (1960 – 1966) light up Winstons at the end of the show. Though this animated series was considered adult entertainment, by the time Pebbles was born in 1963, these cave toons were no longer blowing smoke in Bedrock, but pitching Motorolas and Welch’s grape juice. Besides, the U.S. Surgeon General declared smoking harmful to one’s health in 1964. "Yabba-Dabba-Doo!"   

My father smoked  Raleighs, whose namesake, Sir Walter Raleigh, founded the short-lived colony on Roanoke Island, Virginia. Though it’s a mystery as to what became of the settlers who seemingly went up in smoke, Wally World gave Europeans their first experience with tobacco which began the multi-billion dollar cigarette industry. It paid to drag on a Raleigh because inside each outer, crinkly, plastic-wrapped pack was a tobacco-stained, parchment coupon one could redeem for merchandise. My father always broke off a piece of hard candy to suck on while he Raleigh-ed a few puffs before crushing it in an ash tray, or flinging it out the car window when littering hadn’t became a moving violation subject to strictly enforced fines. 

My sister and I smoked ours to the last puff—not nicotine sticks—but/butt those bubblegum, chocolate, or chalky sugar sticks with red tips, wrapped in paper as to resemble real cigarettes. “Target,” whose evil twin was “Lucky Strike,” reigned supreme as our brand of choice.  Just as the two of us perfected the society matron act of sashaying in our mother’s discarded gowns, hats, handbags, and high heels—we mimicked Hollywood glam legends who smoked like chimneys-- oblivious to the forgone conclusion of wrinkles, yellow teeth, and reeking of carcinogens. My sister and I took our vaudeville act on the road-- two backseat barbarians, sitting at opposite ends of the spectrum with a view of the world stage speeding by.  Our performance was flawless. 

This performance commenced shortly after a visit to our grandparents where my grandpa picked a fresh bunch of roses from his garden for us and wrapped them in foil so we wouldn’t get pinched.  Once on the road, my sister and I plucked just enough petals off of one rose, gave ‘em a lick, and pressed them over our fingernails so our hands flashed the manicured nails of mavens. We procured a cig from our packs of Targets, struck an imaginary match, and the drag began in earnest.  Every now and then we’d nibble the end of our cig stick and pretend to flick our cinders in the ash tray of our arm rest, while chatting nonsense to each other. By the time this number was up, we’d consumed the entire stick and our rose petal overlays had shriveled.  

What a lucky strike we didn’t live in the state of North Dakota which banned candy cigarettes from 1953 – 1967. Yeah, yeah—critics believe candy cigs desensitize children, leading them to become smokers later in life.  Believe me, my sister and I are living proof this assertion is poppycock. If anything, smoking Targets to the last puff effectively killed any desire to light up for real.  Puff on this: look what Prohibition did for alcohol consumption… 


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Underlying Notes by Eva Pasco  An E. Quiche by Eva Pasco



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