A legend has passed away
- and this time not a pipemaker...
On Monday night, our good friend of the shop, John Thulau, passed away.
Ironically, he left us on International Pipe Smoking Day (20th of February). We are all very saddened by this.
John was many things. He was a customer, he was a friend, and he was 'the star' in our shop.
Although he by no means was wealthy, he was an expert in shopping for second-hand clothes and loved high-profile brands. So, basically, he looked like a million dollars.
He was flamboyant and colorful.
I will never forget one day in the old shop when he came down the stairs and sang “I feel pretty, oh so pretty” from West Side Story, wearing some kind of cowboy outfit because he was going to see the premiere of the Quentin Tarantino movie Django Unchained.
I still laugh when I think back to that day.
Did I mention that Mr. Thulau was a pipe smoker?
He had a pipe in his mouth constantly. He smoked everything, and if we had some dry leftover tobacco from fragrance samples, he gladly took it.
He had a jar at home where he mixed all these leftovers and moistened it up.
Sometimes it went well, and other times I had to ban him from smoking within 500 meters of the shop.
He just smiled at me.
When he was in the shop, he preferred to sit in the corner and watch our work.
Often, he had a hat on and looked majestic with his Dunhill Calabash with its shiny silver ring. Lots of people asked if they could take a picture with him, and he always said yes. Thousands must have a picture with themselves and Mr. Thulau.
Actually, his behaviour created comments where people write “I visited The Danish Pipe Shop, and it was so cool. The owner sits in the corner, smokes, and watches that everything goes perfectly”. I, as the owner, thought this was so funny that we decided to give him a title: Head of Security. Mr. Thulau loved this title, and he was always helpful if we were busy watching out for shoplifters.
My story with Mr. Thulau starts in 2011. I had met him before, and we nodded to each other when I visited my father in the shop, but honestly, I did not know him, and my father had a lot of 'hangarounds'. But in the days after my father died in 2011, and I was in the shop, I noted Mr. Thulau was outside looking at the windows. He didn’t come in. The staff said that he used a lot of time in the shop, and he might be in doubt whether I liked it, so I went out and pulled him in next time.
He stayed in the shop every day for 1-2-3 hours.
Over the years, we developed a friendship. We talked about football (soccer), music, and naturally pipes. Mr. Thulau loved music, and he was ahead of his time. We found out we shared a love for certain indie music (my wife calls it DING DONG music), so we went to several concerts together.
We have been on road trips together, watched soccer games, visited my parents’ graveyard, he joined us at Christmas lunch, and my wife and I helped him financially at a time when he was almost thrown out of his apartment because he had not paid the rent.
Mr. Thulau had no money and received the lowest pension you can get. At the same time, he was not very good at handling the few he had, so he spent them all as soon as he got them.