Farewell to an SHPC Icon – Steve Gutz
We learned late last week that our good friend and a founding member of the Sherlock Holmes Pipe Club had passed away from complications of kidney failure. Steve Gutz, nick-named “Mass Consumer” for his vast collection of anything related to pipes and tobacco, rarely, if ever missed a pipe club meeting up until the time he got sick. We’re talking from 1989 until early in 2007. That’s a pretty good attendance record. Steve was always a focal point at whatever table he was sitting at. He was a wealth of knowledge and loved to tell a story. Steve was also the 2004 winner of the Kaywoodie Pipe Smoking Contest (his tongue will never forget it). Years ago he started the annual SHPC barbeque at his home which was always well attended and a great time. His house was like a pipe & tobacco museum. At one of the barbeques he had bought a bunch of different blending tobaccos for everyone to try their hand at creating the “ultimate blend.” That what a great idea and everyone loved it.
After he got sick and was confined to a wheelchair his passion for pipes never faded. He’d have Francis his driver or a family member drive him around to antique shops and book stores looking for old pipe related items and books and he continued to buy pipes on Ebay. He would always bring his new acquisitions to the club meetings to share them with the others. He was a key component to the Sherlock Holmes Pipe Club and if there is one thing we can do for him now, it’s to keep the club going strong. Steve you will be sorely missed. – Nelson
After hearing about Steve’s passing, I was in a depressed mood, as you can well imagine. He’s been a friend for many years. Probably the first to befriend me when I joined SHPC. A number of years ago, he gave me a tin of Condor Ready Rubbed. It was old, and when you shook it you could tell that the contents had dried out. But the tin was pretty rare these days. He’d given it to me as a birthday present. When I got home, just for yucks, I put in in my refrigerator humidor and let it sit. I never really thought it would rehydrate; figured that it was past dust. I’d truly forgotten about it, completely.
But that evening I wanted to have a special smoke to his memory, and I keep some special tobaccos in the humidor. So I opened the humidor, and because it was so packed, I had to pull out a few things. And there it was, the tin he’d given me. Could it be smoked? I shook it, and there was no movement like I’d heard before. I thought I’d give it a try, I had nothing to lose. The can was rather corroded and pitted. The lid was not a twist off, you had to place some coin or leverage against it to open it. The tobacco was perfect. Just right for smoking.
I placed some in a bowl. Thinking to myself how appropriate it was that I smoke some of this Condor. Steve and I both loved Condor. I would always make sure I got some for him when I was in the UK. So I imagined Steve sitting next to me, and sharing a bowl, deeply regretting that it can never again be. I lit up the tobacco, not knowing what to expect after years in the humidor. It was wonderful. Smooth and rich in complexity. Round and deep. Just like my friend Steve.
Details of the April & May Meetings
Seems like the April meeting was a long time ago now, and my memory’s not getting any better. I do remember we had a good turn out although Neil missed his first meeting so I had to drive to the meeting alone. Don’t do it again Neil.
Bob brought a friend with him but did I remember to write down his name. Of course not. Well, hopefully he’ll be back again and we’ll let you know his story.
In May the major topic of conversation was the 2011 club pipe. We had been communicating with Erik Nording which seemed promising but the communication broke down and then we were told that he wouldn’t make small number of pipes but we could use one of his production pipes if we wanted. Unfortunately, the selection was very limited so we’ve decided to look elsewhere. This was a disappointing endeavor.
Mike has taken on the task of talking to Mastro Beraldi and Neerup, both of which are interested in doing a pipe for us. Mike’s done a great job with this and we will discuss it further at the June meeting and make a decision. Right now we’re leaning towards Beraldi and can set up Neerup for 2012.
Next meeting is Tuesday, June 7th, 2011 at 7:00 PM at Sportsman’s Club. Meet Early C.B. Perkins at 5 PM – Cobb’s Corner, Canton.