The Odor of a Bygone World

Peter Freundlich, smoking in bed, during the '60s in London.

Peter Freundlich, smoking in bed, during the '60s in London. All the rooms were smoking rooms in London then, and in this country, too. Peter Freundlich hide caption

itoggle caption Peter Freundlich

NPR's Robert Siegel, a former smoker, talks about the sensations and memories provoked by the scent of stale cigarette smoke. He says, "It was the smell of America in the 20th century, a century that has passed and has largely taken its odor with it to oblivion."

All Things Considered also asked several of its commentators what they remember of the stale smell of smoke. Ralph Schoenstein talks about his father's habit and the glamour of New York City when cigarettes were everywhere. Mary Jo Pehl is reminded of her wild college roommate. The entertainer Teller, of Penn and Teller, remembers how his dad's cigarette smoke once cured his car sickness. Daniel Pinkwater heads back to a Chicago dive, and Peter Freundlich

remembers what cigarettes symbolized when he was young: life without consequences.

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