- Associated Press - Saturday, February 6, 2016

LAWRENCEBURG, Ky. (AP) - Allen Mobley remembers his grandmother killing two chickens as payment to their pastor for helping with the family’s tobacco harvest.

After working on one farm, the minister and other members of the congregation would move to the next the following day and help with their harvest. It’s just the way it was done then. The work was long and hard, but growing and harvesting tobacco was a part of Kentucky’s culture.

“I never went to school during harvest time,” Mobley said. Such was the way of life throughout much of Kentucky back when tobacco money was the lifeblood of the state. A good crop could mean Christmas presents for the kids and a bad crop could mean financial ruin.

Much has changed over Mobley’s 70 years. The horrors of smoking are well known and tobacco is not the cash crop that it once was.

Mobley says when he was growing up, he couldn’t get out of Kentucky fast enough. He lived in Florida and California for a combined 47 years. But the crop that he knew best lured him home.

Twelve years ago he started Kentucky Gentleman Cigar Company, a small boutique manufacturer, in Lawrenceburg, Ky. Before entering the business, Mobley would roll cigars as a hobby. Newly retired and looking for a profession, he learned the craft of rolling cigars the hard way, first at a small manufacturer in Texas, then by living with a master roller for General Cigar and his family in the Dominican Republic.

Operating out of a Main Street storefront, Kentucky Gentleman sells hand-rolled cigars in 27 different blends, including Fireball, Bourbon Cream, Moonshine and, coming soon, tequila and coffee flavors.

Despite his success, Mobley is not enthusiastic about the future of the tobacco business. “I can see the day coming very soon where marijuana will be legal and tobacco will be banned,” Mobley said.

Until that day, Mobley and his small crew will continue to cure their own tobacco and hand-roll each cigar they make.

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