As I have written before, I have given a lot of thought to how we might best utilize the overwhelming surplus of tobacco sticks left behind by the passing of an industry and a way of life. There must be a way that much wood could be put to good use.

I have witnessed how some have fashioned tobacco stick “stars” by crisscrossing parts of sticks and securing the points of the stars with nails or screws. Not a bad idea, but there is limited demand for tobacco stick stars.

Tobacco sticks are too long for a campfire and lack the substance for burning in a wood stove or fireplace. Besides, it would be a shame to see something go up in flames which holds so many memories for those of us who lived and breathed the growing of tobacco from start to finish.

So here are few of my ideas. None have been patented so you may take any idea and run with it if you are inspired to do so.

I am considering taking one of those unique tobacco sticks (The ones with character or personality) and, with sandpaper or a woodworking tool, creating a smooth surface where a few words can be inscribed by laser or fire brand. I will call it a “motivational (tobacco) stick” which reads “Stick with it!”

Harkening back to my boyhood days when I rode a stick horse through imaginary canyons, across dry river beds, and along many a dusty trail in pursuit of renegades, bank robbers and bad men (who always wore black hats) I came up with the idea of a message burned into a tobacco stick which simply read, “Stick ‘em up!” But then I got to thinking someone would misinterpret “Stick ‘em up” and, at the very least, accuse me of condoning bank robberies, or, at the worst, of inspiring an insurrection. So, I gave up on that idea.

As advice to future generations, I thought of the ancient proverb which reads “If you discipline a child with a rod (stick), he will not die.” That could be coupled with a well-known Benjamin Franklin maxim, “A stitch in time saves nine,” to read “A stick in time saves nine.” “Saves, nine what?” you might ask. How about “a stick in time” might save a kid when he becomes a college student from spending nine years to get a four-year degree. Or a “stick in time” might save an undisciplined youth from spending nine years trying to figure out who they are, why they are here, and what to do with their life.

Back to the stick horse, I have been considering how to attack the epidemic of child obesity we are facing in America today -– too many couch potatoes, too much television, too many faces glued to iPhones and iPads, and certainly, too little exercise.

Here’s my idea. How about we require every child from ages 5 through 13 to ride a stick horse for a mile every day? I would suggest each child take their “horse” at a fast walk for the first quarter-mile, a hard gallop for the next half-mile, then a slow walk for the last quarter-mile to let their “horse” cool down. Just think about it! We could turn it into a slogan like Nancy Reagan’s “Just say, No!” or George H. W. Bush’s “No child left behind.” I can see it now, “A stick horse mile for every child.” I think it has a nice “ring” to it -– almost rhymes. I think I will suggest it to the new Secretary of Health and Human Services and the directors at WHO. Taking a phrase from the world of sports, it could be “a game changer.” Plus, it would put millions of tobacco sticks to good use.

I submit to you there would be less crime if everyone carried a tobacco stick with them everywhere they went. My generation could easily get away with it as it would appear to be a walking stick. Reminds me of Theodore Roosevelt’s words, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” I’ll bet would-be purse snatchers would think twice if “granny” was totin’ a tobacco stick.

The next time you are “back home” or have access to a tobacco barn pick out about a half-dozen tobacco sticks to your liking. Take your time and be selective. Leave one in the trunk of your car or behind your truck seat. Stand one just inside your front door. Leave one at the back door. Take one with you when you go for a walk.

There’s something special about the feel of a good piece of hardwood in your hand. Maybe it will help keep some good memories alive.

One thing about good memories: You can’t beat ‘em with a stick.

Jack McCall is a motivational humorist, southern storyteller and author. A native Middle Tennessean, he is recognized on the national stage as a “Certified Speaking Professional.” He can be reached at jack@jackmccall.com Copyright 2020 by Jack McCall.

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