Kid's Stuff Part One


An Article of a Different Type

This website is chock-full of all sorts of reviews and articles and this "article" might seem a bit out of place to some people. It's just me doing what I always do with whatever "article" or "review" that I write. It's a story that unfolds, some of them are epic sagas, and the others chronicle the various stages of the experiences of…me.

On another level, this article is going to be really different as far as the subject matter is concerned.

I'm sure that some people will look at this and they will start laughing at it. They will probably squeal to others, "He's finally lost it man, he's talking about fingernail files and Cub Scout stuff."

This change began over three years ago and that's why I started moving towards other survival-related topics. I started writing about the need for a simple survival kit for most people and perhaps a not-so-simple survival kit for others. First-Aid kits as well. I took the website in that direction because those things are equally important to Self-preservation.

This is an article, or a series of articles, on how most of the thought processes started a long, long time ago.

I originally planned to write only one article and title it "Kid's Junk." After really getting into it, I found out two things quickly: it needed to be in two or three parts because it was going to be rather large and it also dawned on me that it was really improper to refer to this stuff as "Kid's Junk" because it's not "junk" at all. When I refer to "junk" knives or "junkers" later on, you can more or less take that whatever way you will. I don't want to go back and change some of the early writing in this article, it doesn't seem right to me.

The more I handled the stuff and the more I thought about it, I came to the realization that a lot of what is being peddled now is the real junk and we didn't know how good we had it back just two decades ago.

Added to all of that, this is just plain fun stuff to write about. Everyone thinks I am "too serious" or something along those lines. Sometimes I am. Other times I am not and I think people really like to categorize and compartmentalize you and in so doing, they turn you into something you are not. This is just fun stuff.

Social Commentary

This article is going to have a good bit of social commentary in it as well. I'm positive some will be offended. If you're a "knife person" or a "gun person," i.e., someone who believes that American Citizens have the right to own the guns and knives that they see fit to own…regardless of type…you just might like it.

Likewise, if you think knife laws are simply absurd, you might like it.

If you think we were "better off way back when," you might like it.

If you are, as my Dad referred to some people, a "do-gooder," well, you're probably not going to like it at all.

My Dad also called people like that "a nose." What he meant was, people that are not happy unless they are sticking their nose in other people's business. "Interventionists."

Crusaders…nosey people. The old lady that lives down the street and has no life other than watching her neighbors and logging in their activities in a notebook. And the others that believe with every ounce of their being that when Johnny stubs his toe, he needs a grief counselor.

Gumball Machines and Crackerjacks

You used to be able to get these really small knives out of gumball machines. I'm pretty sure that I got one or two of them out of boxes of Crackerjacks too. A tiny single-bladed penknife with a very small ring on the back to put on your keychain. Crackerjacks had miniscule little knives and sheaths that were plastic "charms." I'm not talking about them, I'm talking about a real knife.

I clearly remember buying them out of gumball machines though, a dime or a quarter and you had the chance to get a nifty little penknife.


Imagine that, a kid could buy a tiny pocketknife for a dime or a quarter and it really was nothing to be concerned about.

"Oh, David, that's so cute…" - 1977

Now?

"I'm calling the vending machine company, this is outrageous! It's a knife for God's sake! And they're selling them to children! If they won't do something about this I'm calling the POLICE!" -1990 and Beyond

Those days of common sense and innocence are long gone my friends. Like a beautiful October day, they're long gone but unlike a beautiful October day, these days won't ever be back.

One Man's Junk is another Man's Treasure

I thought about my time in the Cub Scouts and very limited time in the Boy Scouts. I thought back to how interesting it might be to try to assemble a lot of the "old junk" that became treasures to a young boy…some of the things cannot be replaced…

We all have access to junk shops. We all have access to garages, attics and basements through yard sales and flea markets… These things sit and languish in Depression Era glass ("Depression Glass") Lazy Susans, salad bowls, ashtrays and pitchers…

Old King Edward Cigar boxes…one of my childhood favorites. Now, with public school prohibitions against "promoting tobacco," I would hazard a guess and say you're no longer allowed to have one in your desk to put your Crayons in.

So, I started my search to find the little clunky things that could usually be found in my pockets when I was a youngster.

Well, for one thing - always a pocketknife of some sort and usually a very good one. But there were other "junkers" that I collected and more importantly, used.

Every time my beady eyes spied one in a store, I would ask for it or buy it cheap - because they were cheap back then!

Imagine it's the 1970s again, man. As a society, we are such sissies now! I mean, we are scared of our own shadows now folks, we really are. When I was a kid, kids had pocketknives, and that's the way it was.

Now, The Wall Street Journal, of all things, has come out with a "hit piece," just a nasty piece of yellow journalism on "deadly" pocketknives. Nevermind the kids! They don't even want adults to have pocketknives now!

Now if a kid has a pocketknife, it's a SWAT Call-Out. There must be an "intervention."

What a pant-load.

I've had pocketknives since I was about six or seven years old. There is no argument that you can put forth that I will agree with about prohibiting kids from having pocketknives unless the child is simply not safe with them and if you never trust them, you will never know, will you?

I know, I know, I've heard it all before. I've heard all of the arguments against guns and knives that are supposed to be, at least on the surface, well thought out arguments on why children should never be exposed to guns and knives, let alone trusted with them.

Don't be silly. Don't parrot silly propaganda. People are dangerous, inanimate objects are…well, they're inanimate objects. A Kenworth will kill you if you get hit by it. A human being is still driving the thing, right? But when it comes to guns and knives, some people lose the power of reason and logic and immediately blame inanimate objects for the acts of careless or broken and/or rotten human beings.

If you believe otherwise, perhaps you should dress up in your windbreakers and tennis shoes, eat your barbiturate-laden applesauce and shed your vessel so you can meet the mothership because you're just another clone.

The Time Machine

I've been thinking back for a long time about stuff like this. I had to sit and try to remember various hunting, fishing and camping trips and stuff about knives and slingshots from my teenage years…because I wanted those experiences in bits and pieces in other articles.

Then I thought to myself, "Well, what about before that? What kind of stuff did you have?"

I don't think it came to me that clearly, really. I think it was far more subtle than that. I think the first hint of this came from handling my Dad's Case pocketknives, which are in the article about him on this website…

You see, whenever I could, I would snatch that smaller Case pocketknife up from the kitchen table and take off with it. He generally carried two Case pocketknives, one large, single bladed knife and a smaller, three bladed pocketknife.

He, on the other hand, gave me multiple pocketknives that I lost or dropped in the water or "something happened to them."

The Camillus pocketknife, what came to be known as a "Demo Knife," was a constant companion. That is, when I was not losing one of them. I think my Dad purchased a total of three of them for me and then gave up. I wish I had them now, I am truly saddened that I lost so many things that he cared enough to give to me. (And let that be a lesson to you youngsters who might read this, cherish your time, you never get enough of it…)

Ken (Cook) and I would be talking on the phone and he would be telling me about the "Demo Knife." And then he explained to me what that particular piece of cutlery was and I was like, "Yeah, I had some of them!" To me, it was just an "Army Pocketknife" or whatever name I chose to give it at any particular time. I think my Dad referred to them as a "Camillus Knife" just as he referred to the Case pocketknives simply as "Case Knives."

You know, "Hey, Donnie, where's your Camillus Knife?"

You get the idea.

The "Demo Knife" or Camillus military pocketknife, well, the design has been around for a long, long time. World War Two Navy Pocketknives were the same basic design except they had beautiful scales.

It was also the basic design for a lot of Official Cub Scout and Boy Scout Pocketknives. This Cub Scout knife is made by Camillus.

Oh, yeah, and the Girl Scouts as well. Yes, girls were once encouraged to carry pocketknives, imagine that.

The Imperial "Kamp King" was a really low budget version of this knife. Just a couple of bucks and with black, plastic scales, you almost needed a pair of needle-nosed pliers to open the blade on it. Here is an old pair of them, one leaning on the other for support in their old age.

I remember asking my Dad (he referred to this as "pestering") to buy me this toenail cutting contraption. I think it was called an "Angler's Pal" or "Angler's Pocket Pal." You see, when you are trimming monofilament line (fishing line), if you use nail or toenail clippers, you can make really neat knots that are trimmed properly.

Well…this thing was like a pair of toenail clippers and on the end where you usually see the hole to place a ballchain through… Well, there was a knife blade and an awl and a can and bottle opener blade… And it had a neck lanyard on it like you see on whistles and, again, I had two or three of these things and I lost them as well when we were fishing.

I found one after I wrote that portion above and here it is in all of its 1970s glory in the picture below. The lanyard is different on this one.

Then we would go back to good ole' Clyde's Sportshop and there would be another one, or some other knife in the display case and I would be like, "Please-please-plea-gimme-please."

Now that I am older and I have become taken with the mental infection of thinking about such things… I wanted to gather up some of the things that I had way back when…if for no other reason to place them in a drawer and use them or look at them from time to time. Or perhaps to become lost in thought, thinking about another, better time, long ago when I was a little boy because when I look at the world around me and what this country is becoming, it's just about the only solace I have left. There are many times when I read my E-mail or interact with other people online that totally reinforces this belief I have.

The Barlow

I almost forgot the Classic Barlow. You can overlook the really simple things, can't you? Barlow pocketknives were everywhere when I was a kid. Old men had them, young men had them - kids had them.

Odd and Even Days

I turned 38 years old during the Summer of 2006. Do you remember the "Odd & Even" days of gasoline rationing?

We had this Country Squire station wagon. The color was that sickly Ford mix of yellow and tan that combined to form the color of Betty Crocker cake mix. Of course, it had the wood paneling. A big old 390 Cubic Inch engine that would really move the old wagon too. Factory air conditioning that my mother would not run because there was a gas shortage, don't you know… Yeah, gas was around .39 cents per gallon and went up to almost .60 cents per gallon - stop the presses! The world, it now ends, we're "On the Asphalt."

It felt like the world was coming to an end in that station wagon! The vinyl seats conspiring with the summer heat, engine heat as it cools down and a relentless sun in no shade…

And the exhaust fumes of those around you that leave their cars running, hangs like a pall… Then everyone starts up to move a couple of spaces forward and we get to those pumps and they are working non-stop… The exhaust and the heat and the gasoline fumes get to me and I get out of that car and I'm retching like a sick dog.

We get our gas and I feel better, having churned up everything I had, the air is cooler, flying down the road with the stereo on:

"I could sing you a tune or promise you the moon,
but if that's what it takes to hold you,
I'd just as soon let you go,
but there's one thing I want you to know…

You better look before you leap, still waters run deep,
and there won't always be someone there to pull you out,
and you know what I'm talkin' about...

So smile for a while and let's be jolly,
love shouldn't be so melancholy.

Come along and share the good times while we can…

I beg your pardon,
I never promised you a rose garden.

Along with the sunshine,
there's gotta be a little rain sometimes."

- Lynn Anderson


I'm in the back "cargo area" of the wagon; I go from the back bench seat to cargo area with complete disregard for seat belt laws - because there weren't any! Over the top of the seat I go, back and forth, no problem at all. On several occasions, my mother hits the brakes like Godzilla is standing in the center lane of the Baltimore Beltway and breathing fire onto oncoming traffic and I go flying and hit the back of her seat, or the back of the front passenger seat… I fold like an accordion to the floor.

THUD.

Cool!

Yes, children were allowed to become dangerous Bag-O-Flesh and Bone inter-vehicular missiles back then. Now it's strap this and buckle that or write on this and pay that.

Some time ago, I received one of those strange but funny chain E-mails and I usually just delete them. I actually read this one and it was funny and worth my time. It had this long list of things about "child safety" and growing up before all of these laws came into our lives. It was funny because it was so true, if we have to have all of these laws to "save children" or whatever, how in the hell did any of us ever make it through the 70s? Let alone the 40s, 50s and 60s.

Anyway…

The cargo area of the Country Squire looks like the back seat of Bonnie & Clyde's getaway car with all of the guns - but they're not real. They're toy guns and they didn't have the stupid little orange, yellow or red muzzle on them to keep untrained, terrified people from shooting kids playing Cops & Robbers or Cowboys & Indians…

Nowadays, we are to believe that a five year old boy in a car could actually have a FIVE or TEN-THOUSAND DOLLAR vintage Thompson Submachinegun. Or that a five year old would need to yell - "Rat-a-Tat-Tat" running through a backyard if he had a real machinegun. That is, if we are to believe the people that think someone could actually mistake a mere tot carrying a plastic Thompson or Uzi for a real criminal...do you understand what I'm saying?

Like Elvis, common sense has apparently left the building.

Uh…yeah…okay…if I think about it too much, it makes me feel like I have buzzing hornets inside my head.

My how times change.

Hotwheels and Matchbox cars of all types litter the floor… I'm about five years old.

Thinking back to those summers of long ago and to see what things have become now.

Some things are etched into my memory and will never leave.


"I woke up this morning and realized what I had done,
I stood alone in the cold gray dawn,
I knew I'd lost my morning sun.

I lost my head and I said some things,
now come the heartaches that the morning brings,
I know I'm wrong and I couldn't see,
I let my world slip away from me..."

- Charlie Rich


School Daze

Certain songs can take you back in time, that is the power of music.

Certain smells can "take you back" to other times. Certain "things" can as well.

Do you remember "Ditto Machines?" You know, the copied papers in public schools, "Take one and pass them on."

Remember being in school and hearing the Teacher start what appeared to be a cross between a Model - T Ford and a mini - washing machine? The Mimeograph…

Slur-Chunk-Slap Slur-Chunk-Slap Slur-Chunk-Slap Slur-Chunk-Slap Slur-Chunk-Slap Slur-Chunk-Slap…and the smell wafted through the room and it stunk and you could barely read the paper passed on to you. The ink was purplish and the original being copied back in 1977 probably originated when President Kennedy or Johnson was still in Office. Maybe even Eisenhower, you just never know…

Music class, learning to read music, the Cryptogram from The Mighty Ditto Machine would read something like: "Ever God Bot Deserts Fug."

The Teacher would be saying, "Follow along, 'Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge, E, G, B, D, and F…" and you're thinking, "Errah, uh…that's not what this thing says…"

We had these stupid pieces of paper and you could barely read them and sometimes the more ambitious teachers would pencil in the correct letters. Other teachers, probably wash-outs from a job at NSA, allowed the cryptogram to stay the same and let you figure it out for yourself.

Now kids have computers and laser printers and copiers and they're not nearly so smart…I wonder why? Hmm…I'll have to meditate on that one.

Most of us resembled Jack Nicholson's character in the movie, "As Good As It Gets." Hopping, swaying and swerving going down the halls with the teacher telling us to stay in line like the good little cubicle slaves of tomorrow that some of us would become.

"Step on a crack, break your mother's back, step on a line, break your mother's spine."

They give you Luvox for that behavior now.

Yes, certain things take you back in time. If you were a kid in the 60s, 70s or very early 80s, prepare to go back in time.

Do you remember these cool little pencil boxes? Some were advertisement items and others were just sold as school supplies, made by companies like "Sterling Plastics."

A ruler, a pencil sharpener (the beginning of the end!) and a multiplication table calculator and…a pencil box. All in one neat little package.

Advertisement Knives & Some Junkers

Sometimes I lovingly refer to knives like these as "Junk Knives" or "Junkers."

Hey, look, "Junkers" are so cool. Not all of them are "ad knives" but many of them are.

This is really going to drive some people up the wall. Steelheads and Lock-freaks everywhere will start moaning and groaning…

Success!

For those that don't know, in some restaurants and diners, you would pay for your food at the cash register and there was some type of plastic bucket, candy/mint dish or other container and they had these little "knives" that would go on your keychain.

The body was just steel and folded over and the blades were secured by and pivoted on…like a hollow rivet. A small length of ball chain or a split keyring was provided and it usually had the name of the restaurant, diner or motel stamped into the side of the body. There were a lot of other businesses that had these "giveaway" advertisement knives as well.


Some were quite nice and not the type described above. Imperial, Colonial and Camillus as well as other companies manufactured some of them. These were not the stamped and folded over hollow-rivet pivot point knives, these were "conventional" pocketknives.

If you bought a Lawn-Boy lawnmower at the dealer, you might pick one up. John Deere tractors, you name it. Ken has an old ad knife from Lawn-Boy, for example.

Yeah! People used to give away knives! Isn't that cool? Well, most people would say, "Yeah, they gave them away because they were JUNK!"

Not so friends…

Tell ya what, these Pre-1980 "Junk" Knives and Advertising Knives made by Trim and similar to those made by Trim were ten times the quality of knives that you see at flea markets and in gas stations now.

The little Colonial, Imperial and Camillus Advertising Knives were twenty times the knives the gas station owners are peddling now…all of the rancid little Chinese "knives" made out of a potpourri of metal - pot metal. And to add insult to injury, they're not free, you have to pay for them. They're cheap compared to a regular knife, but considering what you get, they're not really cheap at all.

Chinese copies of Spyderco Enduras and Delicas primarily. They don't look as good as Spydercos, of course, but it is the same basic shape and usually have a plastic thumbstud instead of the hole to open the blade. - Absolute garbage…

Give me a Junker from the "No-Tell Motel" in Elkridge or "Joe's Choke & Puke" in Savage any day!

To be honest, people who lived where I grew up would recognize names like, "The Elk Motel" and "The Tip-Top" and "The Beltway."

With these little junkers, you could put an edge on them; there was a knife blade, usually a bottle opener with a screwdriver tip, sometimes a nail file. There were a few different styles of them but they were all quite similar.

Kids need to cut things, they need to pry things apart, back before the proliferation of Torx and Allen Screws, and we needed to disassemble various things that we would acquire from junk piles, especially those from recently evicted tenants. I'm not joking, everyone can laugh if they want! I don't give a damn if a kid has rich parents, he'll root through a junk pile if given half the chance. It's not about poverty, it's about adventure.

You could also buy these junk knives in drug stores before they became known as "chain pharmacies." You can't throw a dead cat without hitting a CVS, Rite-Aid or Walgreen's now. Vast, corporate wastelands, eight cash registers with one cashier, two if you're extremely lucky. Cashier(s) pissed off because they have to work the floor AND make sure they get up front to the growing line of people who pay for service but don't receive any.

Good grief, you used to be able to get an ice cream float from the Soda Jerk at a drug store while you were waiting for the bottle of pink antibiotic hell that your mother was going to force down your throat, now you just get the jerk…

And those same types of Junk Knives with the folded steel body - hollow rivet construction were manufactured by a company named "Trim." Actually, that was the brand name for the W. E. Bassett Co.

They specialized in tweezers and a bunch of other handy little items that will be covered in the fingernail files section. Drug stores always had an ample supply of products from "Trim."

Guess what? Even on these things, most of them had "USA" on the blade, if they still make them, you know what's going to be on them.

Church Keys, Can Piercers and Openers

Before people became so lazy that everything had to have a screw-lid, you used to need bottle openers more. I remember my Dad buying my Yoo-Hoos and I didn't need no stinking bottle opener that was built-in to the front of the machine! I had a Junker and/or a Camillus in my pocket.

Do you remember the cap on the Yoo-Hoo? Had a little paper-thin piece of cork in there for a seal, you remember that? Just thought I would bring it up…

Now everything from Campbell's soup cans to Maxwell House coffee cans have pull-top lids; they are apparently slowly beginning to phase out can openers as well. This is a mixed blessing and a relief to some, I've purchased three electric can openers from Wal-Mart in the past ten years and none of them lasted very long. "Made in China" is quickly becoming synonymous with "Disposable."

I have purchased several "manual" Chinese can openers; I use a P-38 now in the kitchen. I'm going to a junk shop and buying a couple old manual can openers from the 60s or 70s, I probably won't need to get another one.

Soon the P-38 military can opener will be a "deadly weapon" as well.

Does a society become more "advanced" when it moves away from being a tool-using society to a pop-top, screw-lid and vacuum sealed rip-off lid society? Pencil sharpeners too, and "What do you mean the belt doesn't fit? Take it back and get another one." Well, no, if it's leather, we used an awl on a SAK or Camillus to bore another hole in the leather. This is fast becoming the thing that only the "eccentric" people or "nuts" do.

I don't think a society becomes more advanced when people don't even know what the hell a Church Key is for anymore. Dole Pineapple juice and V8, for example, you used to need the pointy end of a Church Key to punch a hole in the top. Carnation and PET evaporated milk as well.

You used to keep a "dirty" Church Key in the car. Why? Because you had to punch a hole in a can of oil as late as the 1980s.

They still make Church Keys, a/k/a the Can Piercer. They're Made in China now. The metal is so flimsy that you bend them on a can of PET Milk. You used to just cut a hole right in the top of the can, now you have to put your thumb directly behind the point of the tool in order to get it to go through the can without creating a worthless piece of U shaped metal. And it will STILL bend, just not as badly.

Thanks to Ken, I now know that these can piercers are called "Church Keys."

Have you bought a manual can opener lately? Totally useless. They rust if you look at them and you fight like a pitbull to get the damned thing to open a few dozen cans and then the key on the side that you turn breaks off.

But, hey, go buy another one from Wal-Mart!

Wal-Mart is a multi-billion dollar corporation and China thinks in terms of decades and centuries while we only think about later this evening, at best. Go ahead and give them more money! They need it more than you do, right?


CONTINUE ON TO PART TWO OF KID'S STUFF!

Copyright 2006 Don Rearic

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