Pipe Smoking at Yale in the 1950s

Pictured above: a pipe smoker from the 1957 Yale Class Book. In a back issue of the Ivy’s alumni magazine, Andrew Legendre writes:

Back in the 1950s, smoking a pipe was as much the fashion at Yale as button-down Gant shirts and scuffed white bucks. I wasn’t a smoker, but when I received my acceptance to Yale, my mother bought me a Dr. Grabow Yellow Bowl pipe and a can of Prince Albert tobacco. She thought smoking a pipe would have a calming influence on me. Her father smoked a pipe for over 60 years and was rarely, if ever, stressed out.

Over the summer, I practiced stuffing and puffing on my new pipe. It didn’t take long that fall to learn that Dr. Grabow and Prince Albert were not the choices of discerning Yale pipe smokers. The pipe smoker set in New Haven was big enough to support two local purveyors: Johnny’s Pipe Shop at College and Chapel streets, and the older and more upscale Owl Shop, around the corner on College. Johnny’s is gone now, but the Owl Shop is still smoking.

Legendre’s description of a civilized habit segues into an absolutely queasy description of the college radio station’s annual endurance pipe-smoking competition. Life Magazine covered the 1959 contest, capturing photographs of the hijinks.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s