Sage Grass & Cedars
by Darrell Thompson
I assume that every boy has a fascination with one thing or another when growing up. I also think that it is a healthy thing when that fascination can turn into an appreciation and stop just short of being an obsession. My childhood fascinations were guns and knives. With knives being much cheaper than guns, it was easier for me to be involved with knives instead of guns.
My fascination with knives began with my dad. He always carried a good pocketknife that was near razor sharp. When I was about five, he was plowing in a field near our house. I carried him a jar of ice water and stayed and played in the edge of the woods around the field. Dad must have assumed that I was getting bored and stopped the tractor and came over and gave me his pocketknife to whittle with. I still remember his instructions "Always whittle away from you, not back towards you, or you’ll cut your guts out."
My only knife trading that I remember being involved in was in the fourth grade in school. Several boys would bring their knives and do some trading and selling out on the playground. I laugh when I think how well that would go over today. Our knives weren’t worth much, maybe even free knives that we got at the cotton gin or with a pair of Tuff Nutt blue jeans. Even though I have forgiven him, I still remember the dude that beat me out of eighty-five cents on a trade. I reminded him a few times and he always promised to pay me later. By the seventh grade I began to understand that he had beat me out of it.
One of my first knives of any value was a three-bladed Old Timer that I got for selling magazines in the FFA. It was just like one that dad had or used to have. I thought I had really arrived as a pocketknife owner. I kept this knife for several years and then, as the way with most pocketknives, I lost it and it was never to be found again.
Years later, a friend that I worked with sold me a three-bladed Buck knife. This was one of the better pocketknives that I have owned. Once sharpened, it kept its edge for a long time as long as I didn’t try to cut stuff that I shouldn’t. As luck would have it, I lost that knife too. I did find it a few months later when I gave our wood heater a good cleaning out in the spring. Of course, the handle was burned off and the blades would just flop around however they wanted to.
An animal health representative gave me a small green butterbean looking knife. It didn’t look like much, but it stayed sharp and the shape of it made it carry very well in my pocket. I lost it several times around the Co-op but people would find it and return it. They probably judged it by looks and decided it wasn’t good enough to keep.
One of my favorite knives is a four-inch lock-blade knife that my dad found. I find some comfort that others loose knives too. He gave it to my granddad who used it in making handles for hoes, axes and other things. My granddad gave it to me about a year before he died. Not only did it have sentimental value but also it was my favorite knife to have with me in case I needed it on a deer hunt. I thought I had lost it also when it went missing for nearly a year. I found it when I was looking for something else in my truck and happened to be feeling around in the side compartment of the truck door. I have never been so happy to find any knife as much as when I found that one.
If I could turn this mostly mental knife collection into reality, I would start with a small Case hunting knife that I got for Christmas when I was in my early teens. I would start with it not because of the dollar value but because of the sentimental value. I think that my dad had just got laid off from his plant job and money was pretty tight in just making ends meet. My mother got me that hunting knife and Christmas gifts for my brothers and sisters with S&H Green Stamps that she had saved up from shopping at the local Piggly Wiggly. Looking back now I can see the resolve that my mother had to make sure that we got something for Christmas. Whoever came up with the saying "where there’s a will, there’s a way" I’m sure didn’t know my mother, but that statement could not be truer in regards to her. Many Christmases have come and gone and several more knives lost since then but I’ll always remember the "Green Stamp" Christmas and that Case hunting knife.
Darrell Thompson is the manager of Lawrence County Exchange in Moulton.