I can’t remember when I first carried a folding knife in my pocket. A good pocket knife was an essential tool for a farm kid in the forties and fifties. It was used to cut the ties on fodder bundles and hay bales. A sharp Case, Schrade or Barlow, and you were ready to skin a squirrel or clean a mess of Clear Creek bullheads.
I was instructed in safety measures early on. Such things as always cut away from your body, and don’t run with with the blade open.
At school we played Mumbley-peg during recess. It was a gentler time. No one questioned the right or reason to carry a pocket knife to school. No one was ever hurt or threatened by a pocket knife at any of the rural schools I attended.
One of my most prized possessions during the fourth grade was a pair of high-topped lace-up boots equipped with a snap down knife pocket sewn on the side. I wore them until they came apart from wear.
As a teenager while finishing high school, I worked at a feed mill on Saturdays grinding and mixing feed. Most of the bags of grain and supplements we handled were one hundred pound size burlap bags. They were tied or sewed with heavy cotton string. To drop the contents into the hoppers the ties had to be cut. Pocket knives were left laying on the scales or some other handy place ready for use on each bag dumped.
One old timer I worked with never lacked for good old country humor and sayings. He would pick my knife up and run his thumb across the dull edge, shake his head and say, “Dull knife, dull feller.” Well, I did have trouble sawing through the larger cords. I went to work on the knife with a sharpening stone. I did not think much about it. A few days later I turned around just in time to see him pick up the knife and run his thumb over it before I could warn him. It must have bit him just a little. Harry grinned and said, “Sharp knife, sharp feller.”
Today I carry an electrician’s knife in my pocket. It has a large drop point blade and combination screwdriver burr reaming, lock open blade. I also carry a pair of regular old slip joint farmer’s pliers in the plier pocket of my yard overalls. Both tools are the handiest tools a man could carry.
These tools were made in America by craftsmen who knew what a good tool is. When I am done with the knife and pliers, they will still be solid enough for another generation of handymen.