One of my goals on this Western research trip is to find a spittoon. Why? I think it will be a great way to engage children and get them thinking about how the olden days in Western America were different from modern times. It also has the Ew! factor, which always helps.
When we go to Old Tucson Movie Studios I keep an eye out for a replica spittoon in the gift shops. One of the shops looks as if it might just stock such an item.
"Do you sell spittoons?" I ask.
They don't, but another visitor to the shop - Steve - looks up with interest. He wants to know why I'm looking for such an object. When I tell him, he admits that he chews tobacco. He pulls out a pack of
"What's it like?" I ask.
"Like smoking a cigarette," he replies.
That doesn't help me. I've never smoked.
"What was your first time like?" I ask. "Do you remember it?"
He nods. "I was sick." He pulls out a packet of Red Man. "Want to try some?"
For research purposes, I really should. Generously he lets me take a pinch. It is soft, dark and moist.
"Put it between your gum and your cheek and DON'T SWALLOW," he says. "It might burn a little."
I put a raisin-sized chunk in my cheek. "Is that too much?"
"No, that's fine. That won't kill ya."
It tastes sweet. A bit like what? Licorice? A raisin? A bit of both?
I don't swallow, but when I begin to feel a tingle I go outside to spit.
No spitting on the boardwalk, so I find a dusty place behind a cactus.
For the rest of the afternoon I have a tight head and feel a bit burpy. But luckily I'm not sick.
A few hours later I feel like myself again.
Why anyone would do this, I'm not sure. But at least I can say I know what it's like...
Oh, and I am still on the hunt for a spittoon.