Tuesday, March 12, 2013

‘Bro. Lyn Beyer: Friar of the Briar’

While the Craftsmen’s Calumet Club, by far the pre-eminent society for pipe smoking Freemasons in New Jersey, is off to a start, with three gatherings held since January 22, we’re always on the lookout for persons, places, or things that connect the Craft to the art of setting gentle flame to fragrant leaf. That is where the Spring 2013 issue of Pipes and Tobaccos magazine comes in, with its illustrated four-page feature article on Bro. Lyn Beyer, Grand Senior Deacon of the Grand Lodge of Kansas. (The grand lodge is only days away from its annual communication, and I do not know whether Beyer will remain/advance in the line.)

Courtesy Pipes and Tobaccos magazine.
In the cozy (read: shrinking under pressure) culture of tobacco enjoyment, Bro. Beyer is a giant in his home state. Writer H. Lee Murphy provides a biographical sketch of his subject, chronicling Beyer’s professional and personal love of pipes and tobaccos. Beyer (pronounced Buy-er) is proprietor of Cigar & Tabac, Ltd., “one of the heartland’s best retail shops,” located in Overland Park, Kansas. Beyer also is a co-founder and (naturally) sponsor of “one of the best clubs anywhere,” the Greater Kansas City Pipe Club, with about 50 members gathering in the store to greet guest speakers and enjoy tobacco samplings. (The store’s smoking lounge seats more than two dozen.)

The Grand Senior Deacon also is a craftsman; he carves briar pipes, makes repairs for his customers, and devises his own blends of tobaccos “with assistance from McClelland Tobacco Co., which is headquartered a short drive away.”

It’s enough to make me want to leave the New York City area to settle in Manhattan, Kansas.

Courtesy Pipes and Tobaccos magazine.

And there is a second shop, Town & Country Tobacco, located in Town and Country, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis.

Amid all the words devoted to Bro. Beyer’s personal and professional histories, there is a quick and unexpected mention of our Craft. “Lyn now spends more time with one of his abiding passions, the Masonic Lodge. He’s a 32nd Degree Mason, is in the grand lodge line in Kansas, and is devoted to various fundraising projects…” These two sentences’ appearance pose a non-sequitur, so I gather their inclusion by the writer is to make the point of showing Freemasonry’s importance to his subject.

Read an excerpt of the article here.

I recommend subscribing to Pipes and Tobaccos to all pipe smokers. It is a quality publication on heavy, glossy paper with content devoted to its eponymous subjects that often is contextualized to reveal a bit more about the pipe world than one might expect, as is the case with this feature on Lyn Beyer. Reading this magazine is an excellent way to learn about the people who manufacture our pipes, blend our tobaccos, and bring them to market; and there are informed reviews of tobaccos, and lots more useful information written in engaging and thoughtful style. (The tobacco review feature is titled “Trial by Fire,” which might bring to mind a certain ritual element of esoteric initiation.) Regrettable is the reduced pipe events listings, which I suppose indicates a decline in the number of pipe clubs and their happenings and the preference for on-line advertising by many of the clubs still extant, but that is a sign of the times. Because practically every aspect of pipe commerce concerns small businesses, even the advertisements in the magazine can be counted on for helpful information and direction. Subscribe here.

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