not a teacher
As I mentioned in another post, your examples seem to be transcripts of conversations, so the grammar and tone is more informal. Perhaps I might have put a dash after "thing" rather than a comma, in any case.
The "strange thing" is the fact that no matter how short of money people are, they will still spend it on cigarettes and tobacco. Because the economy of Richmond depended to a large degree on tobacco sales, the smoking habit helped sustain the town through the Depression.
Student or Learner