Dear Ms. Davenport,
This lighter was given to me after my grandfather, known to our family as Granddaddy Wink, passed away. We never knew why he was nicknamed “Wink” or where this lighter with the name engraved in it came from. It was possibly a gift from my grandmother or from one of his war buddies from WWII. I have no intention of selling it, but it would be nice to know something about it.
Thanks for your time,
Clint, Union City
Your granddaddy’s lighter is Ronson’s 10 case model, also described as a tuxedo lighter. It held 10 standard-size cigarettes — think unfiltered Camels. In addition to efficiently lighting a cigarette even in mild wind, it is the height of art deco styling with its cleanly positioned black, chrome and white lines. It was made around 1930, and the monogram is precious.
Ronson lighters started production as Art Metal Works by Louis V. Aronson. As a young inventor, Aronson patented the process for electroplating metals onto another metal that is still used today. The money he generated by this invention was the start-up money for Ronson Lighters. The company’s 1926 motto was “A flip — and it’s lit! Release — and it’s out!” Aronson’s safe, wind-resistant lighters could be lit or extinguished easily with one hand. Although the charm of smoking has diminished, his designs were featured in many memorable 20th-century movie moments.
Ronson’s factory was charged with producing ammunition for the war effort during World War II, although other brands of lighters were available. When peace returned, Ronson expanded to make razors and kitchen appliances. The company was taken over by Zippo in 2010, but the Ronson brand is still attached to fine lighters made by Zippo.
Mass-marketed, check-out lane lighters, although a far cry from your Ronson, have Louis W. Aronson to thank for their success.
Dear Connie Sue,
I am writing in response to Diana’s inquiry in the June edition of The Tennessee Magazine. Her photo of the woven stool she received from her grandmother is strikingly similar to a pair of woven stools I also received from my grandmother.She learned to make them at a home demonstration club meeting in the Clarksville area, probably in the 1960s. She also made a small toddler chair that matches the stools. I have scanned and attached the original typewritten instructions she used for making the stools, along with a photo of one of them. The stools and chair were made from “Hong Kong grass.” I am hoping you can pass this info along to Diana as she might find it of interest, and perhaps the instruction sheet will help her figure out a way to repair the hole in her stool.
Thank you for sharing your memory and, amazingly, the instructions for caning. The little cherry stool has generated more responses than any other item featured in my column. Some callers still own the stools, others wish they did. A few readers have offered to repair the seat. I’m pleased to have started this conversation and retrieved a nice memory for you all.
It’s Just Stuff, but it often holds the key to our past.