August 14, 2020
At the Joy Council:
“Oh, hello, Mommy. Papa and I don’t smoke cigars, not ever! Not ever will we even when we’re growned up. But Mr. Roosevelt was gonna smoke ‘em and so we been makin’ ‘em. We went to our workshops and we got a bunch of really big leaves and we dried ‘em quick and quick. Then we rolled ‘em up and put some grounded up grasses in ‘em. We glued ‘em shut with some glue paste and we got ‘em lookin’ really good. I painted all mine brown and brought them to Mister Teddy Roosevelt.
“I asked him if he wanted one of them, and he said, ‘Thank you very much, Charlie. I would like to have one of those.’ I asked him if I could light it on fire, and Papa said I couldn’t. Anyways, Mr. Roosevelt lit it . . . and . . . I don’t want to ever smoke ‘em. First of all they stink and number two they can burn your lips if the burn real fast.”
I have a picture of what happened, and it’s not pretty.
“He said that he was sure glad he was dead.”
“Yeah, he said that.”
“I think you left something out of the cigar making.”
“Probably one of the most important parts of this is that when someone does a great effort like I did. I painted it and gave it three good coats of the brown paint. I thought if he doesn’t like it he don’t have to.”
“Charlie, I love you so much!”
“I love you too, but I just want you to know that my lungs will be clear and clean.”
“Why was Mr. Roosevelt at the council?”
“We all decided that we wanted to have some of his advice about life being simple. We wanted to look at the simplicity of life in his time. We also hoped to bring back the values of that time. Teddy Roosevelt is an inspirational guy. He says things that make sense.”
“What are some of the things he told you?”
“I told him I really made a big mistake with the cigar and he said that anybody who doesn’t make a dang mistake is someone who doesn’t do nuthin’. He said that to me when his cigar burned up real quick and almost lit up his lips. And you know what else he said?”
“’If you believe you can do somethin’ you’re halfway there.’ That’s why I really like him. We wanted to ask him some advice about values because we was makin’ a transmission for the people of the world. It was Kennedy’s idea to get someone who lived in a time where you wouldn’t break the law for nuthin’. We been workin’ on a transmission for all kinds of people, and we asked him for all his quotes. He talks from his heart and says simple stuff.
“He told me it’s really tough to do something not quite right and the effort I did was so important to him that he was very happy he did it. He said it was really good that I tried, but it wasn’t a good idea to put just grass inside. And he said that the leaves I used were a little bit not the best ones. They weren’t tobacco leaves at all. I asked, ‘There are tobacco leaves?’ He said yes and you know what else he told me? He told me that chocolate comes from bushes and stuff. I said that the next time I make a cigar for anybody it’s gonna be with chocolate. He said, ‘You cannot go wrong with that. That is the path to success.’ He made me feel so good about myself.”
About the cigar experience, Tonas said, “You live on the edge when your children are Swizzlers and there’s no better place to be.”