Camel 16 of 17

That smashed and dirty Camel cigarette pack, that piece of detritus lying in the street, originally designed to attract and urge people to use a product that we know can kill them, had churned my imagination regarding my roots. The design of the package aroused a sense of the exotic in what was in 1912 to many Americans a new, mysterious and unfamiliar country. It brought back stories told by family members, who had been there and the look on there faces, when they talked about Cairo or Alexandria. That image of the camel, developed from drawings of a particular, nasty camel in the Barnum Bailey Circus performing at the time somewhere in southeastern US, I think, Georgia or South Carolina, not in the Sahara, also stirred my imagination, nearly one hundred years after the drawing was created. Few Americans had seen a camel up to that time, so this added to the feeling of the unusual for the Reynolds Company market. The Cigarette pack did not solve the “Riddle of the Sphinx” for me. If not serendipitous, though, the package at least carried my mind in many directions different from what R. J. Reynolds Company intended. It inspired connections I had not yet considered, regarding the relationship of the Turks and Egyptians, the relationship between the Ford Motor Company and my grandfather, Andreas Halkiopoulos, and the relationship between the West and the East. So many things before us can be noticed, if only, at times, we stop and look around us and think.

(NEXT: Concluding with the End Product…)

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