Alan Hunt loves a good conversation. He also appreciates a good Scotch or tasty beer and a nice cigar. So it isn’t surprising that he likes to share these things with like-minded souls. What is a little surprising is that he’s so committed to enjoying this that he opens his home (or at least his back patio) almost every single Friday evening to pretty much anyone who wants to show up.
Since 2006 Hunt has hosted informal get-togethers that he’s dubbed “Holy Smokers” at his Jackson Meadows home. All manner of friends, acquaintances and curious visitors may be in attendance: those whom Hunt has worked with in his engineering career, neighborhood folks, people he’s encountered at churches he’s attended, friends of any of these people, and perhaps the odd visitor or two from a certain local magazine.
On the moderately frigid night when we attended, Hunt’s canopied patio was cozy and warm. Conversations ran the gamut from music to politics to small towns in Pennsylvania (“I didn’t know you were from Pennsylvania!”). Cigars were critiqued, Scotch was sampled, snacks were offered. Ten convivial people were in attendance. A few guests were Holy Smoker regulars, some of them attend occasionally, and some were first-timers. All were welcome. “More than 130 total people have come” over the years, Hunt says, “and there were only two or three who I wish hadn’t.”
Hunt may focus his gatherings on cigars and Scotch, but he didn’t used to be much of a drinker or smoker. That changed when the Dallas native was living in Austin in the early 2000s and found a group of friends who met every week at a local bar to share good conversation and libations.
“I really liked the camaraderie,” Hunt says.
He moved to back to Dallas with his wife in 2003 and missed that dependable weekly dose of laid-back good cheer. “I tried to find something like it in Dallas,” he says, “but I couldn’t.” So he decided to create it himself.
At first, he hosted the gathering at irregular or biweekly intervals. “But that was just too confusing for everyone,” he says, so he started hosting them every week. These days he may call off one of his gatherings because of icy roads or a national holiday, but otherwise he’s there. Hunt primarily wants “to enjoy a pleasant evening with good company,” he says. So consider yourself invited. One guest, a longtime Holy Smoker regular, points out that the political and religious tendencies of guests are diverse. And, Hunt says on the Holy Smokers FAQ page, “We welcome you even if you are an illiterate, nonsmoking teetotaler, as long as you don’t mind that most of us do enjoy such things.”
“Actually,” he continues, “I was a nonsmoking teetotaler most of my life, but eventually I repented.”
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