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Three Pocket Knives

A pocket full.

My father said that a Mr. Tyson lived on the west side of Highway 5 and carried three pocket knives. He also recalled Mr. Tyson as “a big fat man” who was a bi-vocational preacher, wore overalls and moved his family to Alabama. That impression lasted through my father's life, and as a child, he thought all large men were preachers and would move to Alabama.

Having a pocket knife was nothing unusual, but three?

One was a Barlow knife, a very old company name and style. I found that George Washington carried a Barlow.

Mr. Tyson whiled away days at Mr. Bart Duke's store. A bench right of the front door was a roost for local men who whittled on sticks of wood as they talked.

His whittling knife was a canoe knife with pivot blades on each end of the husky handle. There was also a large single bladed knife that Mr. Tyson habitually honed on the leather sole of his shoe.

Mr. Judson “Judge” Wood produced creative little “do-dads” from green hickory but mostly produced piles of chips.

In the town where I grew up Mr. Feldman sold men's clothes in a local department store. He was a flashy dresser, wore straw hats, bow ties, and colorful pocket squares.

Mr. Feldman had a dry sense of humor and carried an expression that he knew a secret. He could pull a nickel out of a kid's ear and make things disappear into thin air.

His legend was that he and a brother were performers in the early 1900's. The brother married and the team fell apart.

Mr. Feldman carried a finishing nail in his pocket. He used the nail for cleaning his fingernails and scratching notes on pieces of cardboard and wood.

His calling card was a thin piece of banana box wood upon which he scratched his name and telephone number.

The only odd thing I've carried was a personal water filter made by “Life Straw.”

When I ventured into places where one could suddenly be without clean water, the filter was reassuring. This small filter can produce a thousand liters of clean water out of whatever you have.

My father carried a bone-handled two bladed Tree knife.

When I became an adult I bought a Tree knife and was often the only man in the room with a pocket knife.

The gate keeper sounded like a Drill Sargent wannabe, the dour, tight-mouthtalking official who ordered me to empty my pockets and gave me a stink eye while asking about my “weapon.”

It was the last time I saw my pocket knife and hope he is enjoying it.

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