A FAMILY TRADITION AND SOUTHERN HERITAGE
Today, is Easter Sunday. It’s been a very long time since I’ve reflected on this day, in any other context, except it’s the day Jesus rose from the Grave to fulfill a biblical prophecy for our sake. However, for me - today also marks an anniversary that’s fifty four years old. More specifically, Easter Sunday marks the anniversary that my grandfather gave me my first brand new Case pocket knife back in 1966. Until this date, I was use to being afforded the privilege of being the recipient of hand-me-down pocket knives from relatives. Usually, by the time I received them the blades were like tooth picks from repetitive sharpening over-the-years.
However, on this date my grandfather surprised me with an Easter Gift that I’ve cherished for fifty six years – my first ever, brand new Case pocket knife. A knife made in America, by American craftsman, and not China. A two blade trapper. A blade for general purpose use and a skinning blade. You see, I grew up in rural North East Alabama at the foot of Oak Mountain which was an extension of the Appalachian Mountains where farm life was a food necessity and hunting and fishing were not only a favorite pass time, but necessary for food as well.
Therefore, a pocket knife was a necessity and an indispensable tool. I also grew up in a era where self sufficiency was a way of life. And era where dressing in the morning and putting your knife in you pocket, was as natural as putting on your overalls, your baseball cap, and tying your brogan boots. Everyone in my household had a favorite pocket knife, including my great grandmother and my grandmother.
In this era, pocket knives came in all sorts of models, shapes and colors. A pocket knife is a personal thing – like a favorite color, shirt, gun or shoes. My great grandfather had a hawk billed Case which he used for cutting tar paper for roofing needs, general purpose use, and cutting Days Work chewing tobacco. My grandfather had a small two blade Shrade he used to cut fruit and clean his nails. My great grandmother had a single blade Shrade she called her paring knife which Grand Ma Dolly used to cut up a lot of fruits and vegetables during canning season. Other family members carried Bucks and Old Timers. All came equipped with carbon steel blades, not stainless as they are today.
My grandmother had a three blade Shrade which she did everything with including cutting sewing thread during quilting. Back then, pocket knives had a myriad uses and were used for everything from peeling fruit and vegetables to cutting bailing twine and stripping wires to repair electrical issues and cleaning automobile battery terminals. The pocket knife was also used to clean fish in the summer and wild game in the winter. What ever and when ever the need arose, everyone had a favorite pocket knife to handle the chore.
I use to enjoy watching my relatives whip out their pocket knives to fix about everything they could that was broken. Each one had a common element. The knives they carried were razor sharp. Sharpening our knives on the porch every evening was a common pass time. It was also a pass time for each of use to reflect on what we were thankful for and enjoy time together. Eventually, my first knife wore out from use and sharpening. However, it was replaced with a new Case, which I carry to this day and I have a spare backup.
My early knife has seen a lot of history during its existence with me, including: my growing up days on the farm, my life’s travels around the world, man’s first moon landing in 1969, the civil rights movement, my time in the Army during the Vietnam War, my days in law enforcement and drug enforcement, the invention of the beeper, the computer, and the cell phone and the list of technological advances goes on. Many life changes have taken place since I first received my Case back in 1966. One common element remains the same, I still carry a Case pocket knife. The only time my first pocket knife was out of my possession was when I left for the Army to serve my country. I left it in the trust of my grandfather for safe keeping and I picked it up when I returned two years later.
Today, I use my pocket knife for any need necessary including: cleaning game and birds I’ve harvested to repairing broken farm equipment to broken horse tack. What ever and when ever the need arises my Case knife is my companion for the repair. As I was taught many years ago, I take explicit care of my pocket knife and it remains razor sharp in my pocket.
THE TYPE OF PERSON WHO CARRIES A POCKET KNIFE
Overall, the person who carries a pocket knife is self-sufficient. A self-reliant, do-it-your-self type, so-to-speak. A person who isn’t afraid of hard work and is up to the challenge of making instant repairs, in order to complete a project. More over, a pocket knife carrying person is a confident person. Confident in his or her abilities. A person who gets a job done when tasked with a project. Further, a pocket knife carrying person is one who has been entrusted with carrying on family tradition and a symbol of responsibility and trust.
“UNTIL NEXT TIME, KEEP EM BETWEEN THE BRIDLE”