Cigar Lifestyle

An excerpt from “The Cigar Maker” by Mark Carlos McGinty

Salvador was always happy when his boys came home dirty with sticky fingers caked with tobacco residue. He told them, “Boys your age should be earning wages for the family. Work hard, boys, or die like a lazy dog.”

On Javier’s tenth birthday, Salvador named him his apprentice. The economy was still recovering from the Ten Years’ War and employment as a cigar maker was sporadic so Salvador taught Javier how to roll cigars using the inferior leaves that were normally thrown away by the sorters. He taught Javier the art of blending tobacco to balance the flavor of the leaves, and instructed Lazaro to salvage scraps of floor sweepings and bring them home so Javier could practice.

“Soon you will be a master cigar maker,” Salvador told Javier. “And you will be able to work in the factory with real leaves, rolling cigars that will be smoked by rich men all over the world. Your cigars will be tasted in every major city from Mexico City to London to Madrid. Imagine that!”

After E.J. was born in 1890, rumor began to grow of a new cigar city in Tampa and many Cubans began to leave for Florida to work in these brand new factories. But Salvador’s sense of nationalism was strong and kept them planted firmly in Havana. “My father died for this island,” he would remind Olympia until it made her sick. “I have killed for this land and you have given up too much to just walk away.”

But when the city became overcrowded with peasants and beggars and the Spanish-American War started with the explosion and sinking of the Maine in Havana Harbor, everything changed. The Ortiz family packed their belongings, left the land of Salvador’s father, and settled in Ybor City. Salvador wondered if Olympia ever regretted her decision to leave the plantation behind. One time when they were alone in bed, he asked her how she felt.

“Do I miss the comforts of affluence?” she replied. “Of course I do. Who wouldn’t dream for someone to cook your daily meals and wash your clothes? The food was divine and I loved the clothes and perfume. But I have learned that the necessities of that lifestyle are nothing more than luxuries meant to satisfy the very desire they create.”

She never told Salvador about the times she wished she could drop everything and return to Cuba to be with her brother and sleep in her giant bedroom. It didn’t happen often – only when food was scarce and the family sank into lulls of depression – but there were times Olympia wished she could run away like before, and be free once again.

*   *   *

To learn more about this book visit The Cigar Maker website.

To receive a signed copy of The Cigar Maker, click here.

© Copyright 2010 by Mark Carlos McGinty / Seventh Avenue Productions All Rights Reserved.

Leave a Reply

Mark McGinty

Mark McGinty

Mark McGinty is a descendant of Cuban cigar makers and the award winning author of The Cigar Maker. His work has appeared in Maybourne Magazine, Melbourne Magazine, Yahoo! Entertainment and La Gaceta. Mark lives in Minneapolis with his wife and daughter. They run a small publishing company called Seventh Avenue Productions and will release Mark’s next book, Home to Nagasaki, in 2013. Visit his official website to learn more:

Show all Mark McGinty's Articles
Aganorsa Leaf Famous 80th Anniversary Cigar Review Video Cigar Advisor Cover

CA Review Panel: Aganorsa Leaf Famous 80th Anniversary Cigar Review (Video)

The second of Famous Smoke Shop’s 80th Anniversary cigars comes from one of today’s hottest boutiques – and we’ve really been looking forward to getting it between our fingers. Did it make the grade? To see our review, click now…

Read More
EPC EP Carrillo Cigars Guide EP Carrillo cigar review Cigar Advisor Cover

2019 CA Report: The Essential Cigar Advisor Guide to E.P. Carrillo Cigars

Take an E.P. Carrillo deep dive with us, as we sample every EPC cigar in the lineup for this CA review guide: whether you’re new to smoking or a grizzled vet, odds are, Ernesto has something you’ll love…

Read More

5 Things You Need To Know About… Whiskey And Cigars

This relationship actually runs pretty deep…so I’m sharing 5 Things I learned that bond whiskey and cigars together: how cigarmaking dovetails with distilling, why a smoke is a natural fit with a pour of whiskey by its side, and what else these indulgences have in common.

Read More
8 nicaraguan puro cigar recommendations

2015 CA Report: 8 Top Nicaraguan Puro Cigars

Today's Nicaraguan cigars are earning ratings equal to and higher than Cuban cigars. See why when you try these 8 Nicaraguan puro cigars you must smoke!
Read More