LAKE CHARLES VAPOR – A FAMILY AFFAIR
by Paul Levingston
Family. It is what binds us. What gives us strength. What molds us into the kind of people we aspire to be. With the passing of my brother, Ken Levingston, this past April, I was reminded by my wife that there are multiple lessons that we can learn from any given experience. Any one of us, at any moment, is susceptible to taking that final march into the unknown. This is what has inspired me to write this article today. I truly hope it finds you and finds you well.
Growing up in Lake Charles in the late ‘70s and ‘80s were without a doubt one of the best times of my life. Being the youngest of three brothers, there were always new and interesting ways of being tortured by my older siblings. One such instance occurred when I was but six years old in my room with my Lincoln Logs (remember them?) when my middle brother, Ryan, entered my room to show me something he had discovered in the nearby woods.
Obviously excited about my older brother’s interest in me, I happily asked what it was. No sooner did those words leave my mouth when I noticed a rather large object hurtling towards me through the air. Fear, dread, and a general panic swept over me as I realized what this object was: a very large and very unfriendly-looking black snake. Blood-curdling screams and absolute panic ensued, but all I could hear was the God-awful howls and laughter from my beloved brother and his ridiculous friends.
Now tangled up completely by this serpent from hell, I began to notice something very odd. The snake had almost a rubbery consistency to it and made no movements whatsoever. It was then that I realized that this creature would not be my physical undoing but would certainly be a source of years of scorn and ridicule. I guess that’s what happens when you freak out after a rubber snake is thrown at you.
As you can probably imagine, The Snake Incident, as it would come to be called, was now permanently imprinted into my psyche from that point forward. But as the summer of ’85 was now upon us, I had bigger fish to fry. Swimming at the Country Club on Saturday afternoons was one of my most cherished events. For a seven-year-old in 97-degree SWLA weather, there was nothing sweeter. Ken, Ryan, and myself happily jumped in the water to do away with the day. Given the six and seven year difference in age between myself and my brothers, they understandably could not be bothered to play with me in the shallow end. I understood this unwritten rule completely as it applied to most other activities as well. No matter, I would enjoy my frivolity nonetheless.
About 30 minutes into my solitary play day, I noticed a hulking and menacing figure approaching me from the deep end. It seemed as if it was on a B-line just for me. I then realized it was a HUGE 5th grader from my school with whom I’d had words with that week on the playground. Luckily for me at that time, a teacher had stepped in to prevent my inevitable demise. This time, however, there was no teacher, only a distracted lifeguard whose attention seemed to be more focused on a conversation with a bikini-clad young lady than to actually be guarding anyone’s life – most importantly mine. This was quite unfortunate for me.
Before I could make a break, I was already in the clutches of my schoolyard bully, being tossed, dunked, and thrown about. After what seemed like an eternity, this horrendous assault upon my person suddenly ceased. Water flooding my nose and throat and chlorine stinging my eyes, I was truly defenseless. It was then, through my chlorine-soaked eyes, that I witnessed my brother Ryan, who you will recall was responsible for The Snake Incident, giving my 5th grade attacker a little 7th grade justice. It was then that I realized the true power of loyalty and family. Oh, and by the way, I never seemed to have any further altercations with the bully from that point forward.
My oldest brother, Ken, was truly the rock star of the family. By the time he was 11 years old, he already was beating on his drums and ripping the chords on his Fender guitar. If you’re over the age of 30, you may recall the rock tunes of the day. AC/DC, Ozzy, Quiet Riot and others were the rock gods and Ken was determined to play along to his heroes at full volume. As you can imagine, this did not go over well with my mother who belonged to the generation of Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Peter, Paul, and Mary. While considered somewhat edgy at the time, they paled in comparison to Ken’s favorite musical icons.
I refer to this time as the Great Rock Poster Tear Down of ’85. By the title of this aberration of history, I’m sure you can guess what occurred. All of Ken’s laminated rock ‘n’ roll heroes were ceremoniously ripped from his walls and disposed of accordingly without mercy. Chaos ensued. Mother vs. Son, Old vs. Young, God vs. The Devil. Despite this cultural clash of generations, Ken and Mom came to an eventual cease-fire. I can vividly remember the relief I felt during the calm after the storm. Crisis, temporarily, averted.
Moving forward 28 years, my brothers and I were still extremely close. At this point, however, all three of us were still searching for our little niche in life. We had been in such professions as finance, stockbroking, advertising, bartending, you name it, we attempted it. That’s not to say that each of us didn’t have success. We just felt that we were working to live and not getting true enjoyment out of what we were doing. That’s when Ken had one of his “bright” ideas. I put quotes around “bright” because, you see, not all of Ken’s ideas could be characterized as bright. This, however, seemed to be different.
The Birth of the Vapor
All three of us had been smokers since we were 15 years old. We all knew the risks but had pretty much settled on the fact that it was an addiction that we could not conquer. That was until Ken heard about a relatively new product called e-cigarettes. The idea was that you could still consume small quantities of nicotine without the other extremely harmful chemicals, toxins, and poisons that are in traditional cigarettes. Ken ordered all of us our starter kits that day. We all received them and were completely stunned at the effectiveness of this amazing product. All three of us simultaneously quit smoking, followed by our wives, friends, and other family members. Our passion was now discovered. On August 1, 2013, Lake Charles Vapor was born.
For almost three years now, Lake Charles Vapor has helped literally thousands of people in the Lake Area finally kick that toxic tobacco habit. Every single day, I hear the success stories from people who are genuinely amazed with how they were able to put down that cancer-causing traditional cigarette and replace it with the e-cigarette alternative. We have been so proud to be a part of that. We have even been able to expand recently to Sulphur as Lake Charles Vapor Westside to better serve ALL of Southwest Louisiana, making us one of the biggest e-cigarette retailers in the state Our entire Lake Charles Vapor and Lake Charles Vapor Westside family invite you to make the switch today to better your health and your life. Because after all, what’s family for?
Lake Charles Vapor, 1413 W. Prien Lake Road, Lake Charles, LA 70601 (337) 564-6895 vaporroomLC@gmail.com
Lake Charles Vapor Westside, 3921 Maplewood Drive, Sulphur, LA 70663 (337) 888-3112 firstname.lastname@example.org