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You can’t play mumble peg without a pocket knife!


I’m a dinosaur. I know it and accept it. It’s taken a lot of years to get as set in my ways as I am and I’m comfortable being there and see little reason to change. But sometimes things I take for granted turn out to be soul searchers. Take pocket knives.21R624_AW01

I’ve been carrying the same pocket knife for over thirty years. It’s an Old Timer made by Schrade. I guess it’s what you’d refer to as a stockman’s knife used in stores to open cardboard boxes prior to the razor knife’s introduction. It has three blades: one regular blade, one “sheep’s foot” blade and a short flat edged blade. It’s too small for its own sheath and too big for a keychain. It’s just the right size for my pant pocket.

My first recollection of a pocket knife was my father’s. It was a common folding knife with manila colored sides that was popular in the 40’s and 50’s. When he gave it to me, the first thing I did was throw it at a huge oak tree in our backyard like Jim Bowie, hoping it would stick and I’d look cool. It didn’t. The sides popped off and worse yet, my dad saw me do it and I not only lost the knife, but after a swift kick in the rear, I had to start proving I was smart and mature enough to earn my having my own pocket knife all over again.

I think I was pretty typical when it came to thinking pocket knives were cool and everyone should know who to throw one and make it stick in a tree. After all, we played cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers and war. And the men we imitated and looked up to all knew how to throw a knife…..we saw it on TV and surely it was true.

We were expected to cut ourselves too; mostly by being careless when closing the blade. The good news was it only took one bleeding finger before you learned how not to cut yourself again.

Moms were never ok with boys getting a pocket knife. It took dad to allow it; usually as part of a camping trip or learning how to clean fish. Slowly moms came around once they understood the knives were only used on camping trips or part of a Scouting project.

Most of us never considered taking one to school. Getting caught meant having to bring a note home and have a parent come and pick up the knife, resulting in yet another swift kick or two in the rear – for carrying it let alone bringing it to school; no questions asked or explanations accepted.

I thought about all this because my grandkids are getting to the age when learning how to use a pocket knife is going to be important. As they do more outdoor things like go fishing, they’ll want to clean their catch so they can eat what they caught, cut sticks to roast marshmallows over an open fire with or maybe just plain whittle a stick down to a toothpick like gramps does.

Having a pocket knife today is a little different and can cause problems. Ever try getting through security at an airport with a pocket knife in your pocket? You’ll never get it back if you do. If a kid takes one to school, it won’t be up to the parent to straighten him out; it’s an automatic suspension in most districts.

There are good reasons for these restrictions of course. It’s the price we pay for feeling everyone’s pain instead of insisting on personal responsibility.

Pocket knives have taken on the connotation of being a weapon instead of a tool.

Having said all that, pocket knives are still a part (necessity really) of the out-of-doors and there is no reason for them not to be part of the “coming of age” process. So before things get too far out of hand, applying common sense might just be the “ounce of prevention”.

When my grandkids come up north, they’ll cut their own roasting sticks, sharpen them to take a hotdog or marshmallow and they’ll learn to use a fillet knife to clean fish. They’ll do it under supervision and with the knowledge that a knife is a tool not a toy. Just in case, I’ll have a good supply of Bactine and Band-Aids on hand.

The Boy’s and Girl Scouts are great organizations that teach kids the use and respect for things like pocket knives. They do an even better job when parents are involved too.

I can’t wait until the issue of a .22 comes up.


You can’t play mumble peg without a pocket knife!

  1. william says:

    I have carried the same knife all my life.

    1. admin says:

      And still have all you fingers.

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