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Jim’s Knife

December 22, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Dave the WriterMy Dad was a steady guy: honest, courageous, persevering and strong—among a host of other manly virtues. But, for some reason, one of those qualities in particular comes to mind this Christmas season: his skill with his hands.

I remember him idly whittling a small wooden dog with his pocket knife (always a two-bladed Buck ‘Deuce’—they were bigger back then) for my toddler little brother. And, he expertly carved a great wooden plane with a two foot wingspan for me when I was about nine. He even carved its free-spinning five-inch propeller while the family watched Gunsmoke and Rawhide and Maverick together

One of my greatest regrets is how I took such awful care of that amazing product of a father’s love, destroying it through utter idiot-kid flakiness within a week. One of my greatest joys is having been able to gather the gumption to apologize as we fished together a few weeks before he died. His response must have been one of those ‘loving parent’ things, because he told me that he didn’t even remember, though then, at 79 and nearly dead of lung cancer, his mind was still crystal clear.

After he passed away, his knife came to me. And, I’ve carried it ever since. Except when the T&A Gropers prevent that during their perpetual minuet of failure to focus on real threats. But, then again, I’m a veteran and Big Sis named all of us as major terrorism threats her first month on the job. Perhaps that’s it. Dad, another vet in a long line, would have been even less pleased with her and her bumbling, pointless minions than am I.

I hadn’t carried a pocket knife before the cancer got him, and now, many years later, I can’t imagine why. It’s such a useful tool for so many ever-present but somehow unexpected daily annoyances: opening impossibly tough plastic packaging, trimming a rough edge to prevent cuts, scraping epoxy bird crud off a chair on the deck, and a zillion other things we never anticipate but always stumble upon. For example, every year, mine is in great demand within a few minutes of festivities commencing on Christmas morning.

Most guys who do honest work for a living still carry them, while most of ‘the suits’ pretend pocket knives are in the same class of weapon as the .50 caliber sniper rifles the Attorney General ships to Mexican drug cartels. Well, they’re not; they’re tools. And, besides, I learned long ago in a class taught by a tough, leathery First Sergeant with three Purple Hearts that everything is a weapon if you need it to be: a pen, car keys, a picture frame, a rolled up magazine—everything. Maybe even a bucket of water poured on Big Sis for all I know.

So, if Dad hadn’t always carried a pocket knife and used it so skillfully, I like to think I’d still have been bright enough to carry one myself, even though for most of my life, I’ve been on the ‘suit’ side of the honest work divide.

Who am I kidding? By now, you know as well as I that the most important reason I carry my Buck ‘Deuce’ is to honor the best man I ever met.

Merry Christmas to all.

  1. December 22, 2011 at 9:19 am

    Well, my Dad didn’t pass down a knife to me, but, I have had the same ‘Case’ pocket knife since about 1970. And, except for those same times as you and the TSA, it has always been in my pocket. I keep a small sharpening stone in the drawer of the small table beside ‘my chair’ to keep it in shape.
    Thanks for the thoughts …..

    • December 22, 2011 at 1:18 pm

      Great news! A kindred spirit. I need to do much better on the sharpening part. Think I’ll copy your method!

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