Watching cigars being made by one of a few remaining artisans in Ybor City I almost regret that I don’t smoke. Unless one counts those rare drunken occasions, when it suddenly seems like a grand idea. But even then I fail to appreciate the effect.
Perhaps I would smoke cigars, if they were still hand made luxury items. And if relaxing after dinner in a fine company over a cigar was a socially accepted activity. But it never really was, not for women anyway. Cigarettes replaced cigars and television filled after dinner time before women became formally equal to men.
Ybor City lost its cigar factories and its ethnic rivalries between Spanish, Cuban, and Italian immigrants. In time it changed from abandoned city center to revived urban attraction complete with shops, clubs, restaurants and theaters. Its citizens use indoor plumbing instead of outhouses. Museum occupies a former bakery. Workers’ rights replaced factory owners’ care for their workers, suburban sprawl replaced planned communities, and automobiles replaced streetcars. Affordable health plans offered by mutual aid societies evolved into Obamacare.
It’s progress, isn’t it?