Alrighty, you ready for the story? Here we go...
So on November 30th, Kick Ass Oregon History will be hosting the 2nd Annual DB Cooper Symposium, along with Skyjack author Geoffrey Gray at the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma, in conjunction with their exhibit on DB Cooper. I will be the master of ceremonies, introducing various speakers and so on, but in addition, I plan to give a presentation as well.
At the First symposium that Gray hosted at the Portland Hilton, I presented a talk entitled “Bourbon, Bennies and 20s -Rock and Roll and DB Cooper.” Part of my thesis was based around the idea that if we knew how DB Cooper got to the Portland airport that fateful November morning, that we could begin to unravel this mystery. Did he take a cab? A bus? Was he dropped off by an accomplice (or – this is Portland Fucking Oregon – maybe he rode a bike…)? And to get a little closer to the gist of my report – what was he listening to on the radio? Country? The Theme From Shaft? Sinatra? For if we knew this little, tiny bit of information, we might be able to dig just a little deeper (indeed, maybe even deeper than before) as to who Dan Cooper was.
One of the true concrete pieces of information we do have – in a case almost completely devoid of such normalities such as “evidence” – is his brand of cigarettes. DB Cooper smoked Raleighs. As you can see on the FBI Bulletin from the crime, the suspect known as DB Cooper was a “heavy smoker of Raleigh filter tip cigarettes.”
As part of my upcoming presentation, I decided to examine this specific brand of cigarette; the history of, the demographic of the smoker, the intended niche it was marketed to – everything that would be possible to examine from Raleigh cigarettes up until Thanksgiving of 1971. And of course, as a historian who is known to bring you The Straight Shit, I would be remiss if I didn’t attempt to gather as much information as possible from the horse’s mouth – the company who manufactured Raleigh cigarettes.
So I contacted the company. As no historian was listed on their company directory, I emailed the media contacts (which is a fairly standard process for such a request).
My query was fairly straightforward. I am a historian, researched their perhaps most famous customer ever, and I was giving this presentation, and so on, and so on, and so on. I let them know about my presentation in Tacoma, and the basic thesis of said report. I asked them if they could provide me with any information from old marketing reports into the demographic of Raleigh cigarettes (by the way – Marla Cooper has told me that this was the brand that Uncle LD smoked).
The Tobacco executive, let’s just call him Dick, emailed me back about two and a half weeks later. Yup. He stated that he did not have the resources to address my question. Really? No sales records existed, even incredibly rudimentary figures, for a brand of smokes that you sold since 1928? You mean to tell me that a company founded in 1875 has no way to determine what their sales were in 1971? I find that very hard to believe.
I asked if there was any corporate history of the brand – Dick stated in his reply that there was not. I had also asked if there were any advertising materials (like those pictured in this post) that he might be able to forward to me – again, Dick stated that this tobacco company did not have such pieces. And then he ended his message with a copy/paste of some legal bullshit about how this company was unable to assist me in anyway what so ever.
Hey Dick. Fuck. You!
This is a multibillion dollar company that is killing our country. Hooking children on evil cigarettes. Weighing down our health care system and other social services. Likely collecting Department of Agriculture subsidies for their tobacco fields in North Carolina. Say what you want about cigarettes, freedom of choice, and all the other libertarian mantras, but cigarette companies are fucking evil. This is an accepted truism, right?
And to top it off, they fucking HATE Oregon History!
What I was asking for was pretty simple – just forward me a little information about some budget cigarette you made way back in the day so I can get a little deeper into one of Oregon’s most famous stories. And make your diabolical company look a little less fucking evil in the process. Give a little back to the community you are killing. Show a little kindness behind your sinister Snidely Whiplash mustache. Shit! This is a project you could put a lowly, no wage earning intern on. Just scan some shit and hit “Reply.” But no. Instead I get Fuck you Doug, fuck you DB Copper enthusiasts, and fuck you Oregon History!
But have no fear, Dear Ass Kicker! No $200Gs a year earning Asshole Tobacco Executive that I have named Dick will keep your Resident Historian from getting to the bottom of this caper! Oregon History WILL continue. Just without the help of some mass murdering corporation that has no love for the Oregon History.
Raleighs look to me to be a 70’s straight up, fuckin’ Manly Man Dude smoke. Outdoorsy, adventurous – the kinda of ciggy a guy who jumps out of airplanes in raging winter storms over the Cascades with $200,000 strapped to his chest would smoke? Maybe dude, maybe…
(The picture on the right looks a lot like Treat Williams in “The Pursuit of DB Cooper” me thinks. We showed that film last year, ya know? )