There must be a black hole out there in the universe filled with all the sunglasses, car keys and pocket knives people have lost through history.
It’s amazing I’ve managed to hold on to three pocket knives that are dear to my heart, given to me by friends over the years. Each time I pick one up, I think of the friend who gave me that knife. They’re mementos I hope never end up in that black hole, unlike dozens of sunglasses and at least one set of keys I’ve lost.
If my oldest knife could talk, no telling the stories that’d unfold. It’s a slim pocket knife of an unknown brand, but it’s a dead ringer for a Case brand pocket knife.
My buddy Hog Ears gave it to me when his dad, Hog Ears Sr., passed away many moons ago. Hog Sr. carried that knife in his blue jeans for decades. He sharpened it so many times there’s not much blade left.
It’s obvious he didn’t use the knife’s two smaller blades much. They’re still full size and don’t show any sharpening wear.
I don’t think I would have made it through college at the University of Missouri without Hog Ears Sr. He and his wife, Wanda, lived in a cabin out in the country and had their very own lake. I’d go visit them about every weekend to forget about classes and studying for awhile. I think of Hog Sr. every time I pick up his knife.
Another knife I love found its way to my hand about this time of year, one September during dove hunting season.
I was lucky to get invited to hunt doves years ago on opening morning with a bunch from the Benton County Quail Unlimited chapter, now known simply as Benton County Quail.
The hunting was great. I missed so many birds, but shot a ton of pictures. One of the guys brought his retriever on the hunt. That dog stayed busy all morning fetching downed doves. One photo showed the dog bounding across the field with a dove he’d retrieved, looking happy as any dog could be.
My friend loved that picture so much that I fixed him up with a print of it. A few weeks later, he stopped by to visit and gave me a swell Gerber pocket knife. The blade is emblazoned with a logo that commemorates the 15th anniversary of Benton County Quail Unlimited, an anniversary celebrated years ago.
Whenever I use that knife, I think of my friend and see that picture in my cinema of the mind.
The knife I use the most nearly ended up in the black hole where lost knives go. It’s a French-made Opinel folding knife with a silver ring that turns to lock the blade in place. Its round, wooden handle feels just right in my palm. I lost it once, found it under my pickup seat a month later.
My pal Kelly Mulhollan gave me that knife. Kelly and I played in a bluegrass duo together for 17 years having more fun than two guys ought to be allowed to have. Most folks know Kelly and his lovely bride, Donna, as the music duo Still on the Hill.
Kelly had me unwrap that Opinel knife at Christmas one year. What a knife. The blade hones up sharp as a barber’s razor. I love the wood handle and the silver locking ring.
I was devastated when I used it one day and the tip of the blade broke off. A week later I was at the Sharp Show crafts fair out at War Eagle and visited with guy who was sharpening knives at his booth. I asked him about the broken tip.
The next day I took him my prized Opinel knife. Lo and behold he artfully used his bench grinder to grind a new tip on the blade. I’ve been using that knife for years since.
Here’s a nugget of knife etiquette: When someone asks if they can borrow your pocket knife, etiquette suggest that you open your knife, grasp the tip of the blade with your thumb and forefinger and present the handle toward the borrower. That way, he or she can take your knife by the handle, not the blade.
Flip Putthoff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org