What started it all?
Well, my Dad started it all. I think that's fairly clear to anyone that knows me personally. I remember having to sit in the car when we went to my Great Uncle Karl's house out in rural Pennsylvania. My wonderful Uncle Karl had a couple little ankle biter dogs and I was not allowed out of the car, you see. I remember that very clearly as I was bored out of my mind but that's the way Karl was.
Some people would criticize my Dad for making me stay in the car because of Karl but I don't fault him. I think in some ways parents do a lot of things wrong because they think their kids are little angels and many of them are not. I've watched enough kids in laundromats, restaurants and grocery stores to know that some kids are allowed to act whatever way they want to. Parents today, some of them, would say something like, "Well, if my child is not welcome in your house I'm not welcome in your house." Some of them back then would say it too. I just don't think it is that big of a deal. I also know that Karl didn't want a bunch of crumbsnatchers, myself included at that time, messing with his stuff.
My sister Donna said that when she was little and on our Granddad's farm, Karl would be visiting our Grandfather, his brother. Karl would throw pears and apples at her. She would run yelling and my Dad would tell Karl to knock it off. Probably one of the only things Karl could do to make my Dad kick Karl's ass on top of his head.
This is a picture of my Great Uncle Karl (on the left) and my Grandfather (on the right). Sometime in the 1960s.
Karl was not a fan of children. Karl never married, in his words; every woman he was interested in wasn't interested in him and everyone that was interested in him he didn't want. This is probably a cover story for the fact that he was meaner than hell.
Karl was the original owner of the three bladed Case XX pocketknife my Dad carried for years. Karl had given it to him in the late 60s or early 70s.
About five years after that one really memorable visit where I had to stay in the car, my Dad was dead and I was in Pennsylvania to stay for a month or so with my aunt after the funeral.
Karl came by most days when my aunt was at work. Karl was in his 70s by then, at least. I was well aware of his dislike for kids, even then, everyone told me!
No one had to tell you that Karl was a mean old man, all you had to do was look at him.
The picture below is Karl during that visit, Summer of 1982.
I don't know if it was because he really loved my Dad or because he felt sorry for me or what. But he would come over all the time and spend time with me. I tell this story to my sister Donna, who was not there at the time, and I can tell she is stunned. It is almost unbelievable. You just had to know this old man.
I know my aunt didn't put him up to it because you couldn't get Karl to do anything he didn't want to do.
No, really. Karl would tell you: "Go pound salt." And he meant it and he told you where you could pound it as well, not a pleasant man. I don't know exactly what that means but I know it would hurt and that was enough.
Karl and I went to the supermarket one day and he puttered around the place and picked up a couple bags of groceries. Then we went back to his house - truly unbelievable - children were not allowed at his house unless they stayed in the car.
We were back at his place and he pulls out a stick of pepperoni and some cheese out of the bag and removes this ancient Case or Old Timer pocketknife from his pocket. He starts cutting this stuff up and offering me hunks on the knife blade.
Man, there was green shit growing at the base of that blade. I don't know if it was common verdigris from the brass like you see on the liners of these knives or if it was mold.
I don't want to know either.
I ate the pepperoni and cheese, light green smear on the sharp cheddar and all I didn't get sick. Karl lived almost a decade longer so it must not have been too bad for you, he was old enough and decrepit enough at that time (Summer of 1982) to be playing Chess with the Grim Reaper everyday, anyway.
He was between six-feet three inches and six-feet five inches tall and he was bent over to about five-feet ten inches tall and he made The Tall Man in the movie Phantasm seem like a warm, Grandfatherly figure. He "got around" with two old Oak or Hickory sticks in his later years, one in each hand and would clobber you upside the head with one of them at the slightest perceived insult or if he thought you were being a smartass. He yelled constantly because he was going deaf and in the words of my Aunt, "Apparently Karl thinks everyone else is deaf too."
I remember a childhood friend went up to Pennsylvania with my Mother and I and we stayed a few days there at the farm. Karl came by and he was going to get up out of a chair in the living room and I told my friend Mike, "Hey, go help Uncle Karl get up."
I knew what would happen, sometimes I lack Self-control. Mike gently put his hand on Karl's left arm, behind the arm on the triceps, and Karl responded with the right-handed stick to the top of Mike's head.
"I don't need your got-dammed assistance, boy."
I just got up and walked into the kitchen trying not to laugh.
My Dad gave me a love for all of this stuff and I can remember him cutting pepperoni and cheese with his pocketknives and after sitting down with my Uncle Karl, I could see it then.
Pocketknives and things were just part of a way of life to these old guys and it's rapidly becoming a thing of the past.
My Dad kept his knives a lot cleaner than Karl did though.
Before my Dad died, I was in the Cub Scouts for some time. My mother, egad, was a Den Mother for a while. Talk about taking just about all of the fun out of the whole endeavor. When we had meetings at the local Methodist Church, however, we were able to have a bit more fun. The activities were quite limited and I never spent enough time later on in the Boy Scouts to have enough good times to talk about.
The Cub Scouts consisted of making rubberband-powered wooden rockets, drawing and remembering pledges and various other things for the most part and then longing for the time in the Boy Scouts where all the cool stuff would be happening. But I only got a taste of that. It's sort of difficult to keep everything together when your whole life is coming apart. There are entire periods of time that I cannot remember.
Without my Dad and The Cub Scouts, this website would not even exist.
My Dad had a wallet made for me when I was about six or seven years old, that is one of the few things that have survived all of these years. This thing is over thirty years old now, I keep it in a Ziplock baggy with my Dad's wallet.
I purchased a Cub Scout Wallet later on, I don't know what happened to it, but I have another one almost identical to it now.
As I do with any article, I tend to refresh my knowledge and keep my opinions current. I'm pleased to see that the Boy Scouts of America still trust kids with fire and knives. There might be hope for the world yet. I'm not angered, but sort of surprised to see that some private schools and private military academies with "Scouting" programs that may or may not be affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America have a "no knives" policy. It might not be ALL of them, but I have seen some online.
Just what exactly is a "Scouting" program without a simple pocketknife? Parents who are on the right track and have the money should be taking their kids out of public schools and placing them in private academies to escape the stupidity of "zero tolerance" and related liberal thinking, not embracing it.
The Boy Scouts of America have come under fire in the past few years, attacked by radical liberals who wish to destroy it. I don't know how long they will be able to survive the attacks from the atheists and the promoters of "alternative lifestyles." Only time will tell.
If you want to live an "alternative lifestyle," that's your business. That doesn't mean you should change an organization that's against it. Liberals sure are funny people, they can't wait to attack the Catholic Church for their problems over the years and then wish to create the problem within the Boy Scouts of America - simply amazing!
Likewise, if you don't believe in God, changing the Boy Scouts to reflect your views is a lot like walking into a Baptist Church and complaining about religion and wishing to change it so you can compare clothing and vehicles on Sundays instead of going there for religious purposes.
Don't go there! Form your own camping and hiking group of atheists or whatever it is you wish to call yourselves and do your own thing.
Let There Be Light
Back before Sure-Fire, Inova, Photons and the rest of the current flashlights ruled the nighttime and back before even Maglites were popular we had Ray-O-Vac and Ever-Ready flashlights. If you wanted a good light, that's what you had to get. They had plastic lights that would crack under the weight of the batteries the first time you dropped them and then they had thin metal body types and some relatively strong, thick metal types.
There is nothing worse than trying to take care of bid-ness in the dark and the light stops working. When you were camping and you watched a beam of light repeatedly going up and down through the trees and heard a gentle, repeated thumping in the distance, you knew someone was out there in the darkness smacking their untrustworthy Ray-O-Crap or Never-Ready against the palm of their hand. In a desperate attempt to re-rattle that which had rattled loose during a most inconvenient moment while hunkered over a freshly dug hole.
There were two flashlights that really got me into the idea that having a light on you was a good idea. The first one was the G.I. Angle-Head Flashlight. A wonderful light! It won't roll off of a table if you place it on its side, you can also stand them up, and you can hang them upside down by the ring on the bottom that folds up into that area. And it also had a belt clip; you could position it with that as well.
It had an extra bulb as well as light filters - especially cool for kids out playing at night! They come in quite handy for a number of purposes other than simple fun.
The other light was this nifty little light I purchased while in the Cub Scouts and this one really put the hook in me as far as pocket-carried flashlights are concerned. Here is a picture of one just like it along with a classic "Ever-Dry" matchsafe, also identical to the one I had at the same time.
You flipped the lid on this thing and it exposed the bulb and activated the light. Pretty neat, huh? It devoured batteries and offered very little light. I'm going to try to modernize it a bit with an LED replacement. I have an LED replacement in my Mini-Maglites and those run on two "AA" batteries as well. So this little Cub Scout light should be pretty cool if I can get that kind of performance out of it. Of course, it lacks the reflector so it won't have the concentrated throw, but it will sip power from the batteries and that's good enough for me.
If you think the flash on the camera was too bright on the next picture, it wasn't, I flipped the lid on the light and it's on.
It's fairly impressive for an unfocused beam.
Here is the Patent Drawing for the Bantam Pocket Flashlight.
Stamped on the bottom of the flashlight:
"Bantam Lite Inc., N.Y.C., MADE IN USA
US Patent 2412313"
The issue date on the Patent: December 10, 1946
They have been around for a long, long time. Unfortunately, I cannot find the company now so they're probably out of business. What a long run in business though!
Bantam Lite made these flashlights with all sorts of artwork on the outside of them. Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, but also Dick Tracy, Batman and Robin and a whole lot more.
Modern Use of Kid's Stuff
Well, the little Cub Scout light is not going to replace my German-made Red Lenser or Inova lights or my excellent little Sure-Fire E2e. Or my Mini-Maglites with conversion kits or my Dorcy light - the Dorcy possibly the best thing that I have ever found that is stamped "Made in China."
See? I'm not xenophobic after all, I carry a Chinese made flashlight every day, it's just not the only one I carry. It's not a Sure-Fire but it sure does put out a lot of light for an LED. It's reliable and proves that China can make good products, they just don't choose to make good products for the most part. And until people here stop buying their garbage, it's not going to get any better either.
You will see a Chinese made vehicle some time in the near future, does anyone remember the Yugo?
Even while I was writing this, the Chinese-made "holster" I have for my Motorola E815 wireless phone cracked at the belt clip pivot point and was never belt-carried! Just clipped to the inside of a Maxpedition Bag or the visor of the car. Failed at the three-month mark, might as well be a Chinese electric can opener
But all of the old knives?
Yes! I use them!
I have some interesting twists and ideas that I've been exchanging with Ken about them. I'm going to give you just a sample right now.
ANY of the knives in this article will serve you well as a simple utility pocketknife. The older ones, stainless or carbon steel, it doesn't matter, all of these little knives will sharpen up nicely. I mean, they are razor sharp!
I'm going to show you a little project I have going on. I had Ken take a chainsaw file to a couple of the little keychain advertisement knives, to make a striker notch for a flint firestarter.
This is really, really good stuff here
In the picture below is a little Trim Trio type of ad knife with a flint rod striker filed into the base of the bottle opener blade. It could also be used to strip wire if need be. There is a close-up of the notch in the inset picture above the stainless steel pill container. Between the pill container and the knife there is a magnesium rod with a smaller flint rod mounted into the side of it.
In the next picture, below, you see the striker notch filed into an area of the bottle opener more towards the end of the tool. There is also an inset picture to show you a close-up of the notch. This picture has the largest of the four type of pill containers I have, a Doan Magnesium Firestarter in the original plastic and an old but never used (yet) Fraass Survival Systems Metal Match with the protective covering still on the outside of the rod.
You need one of these little ad knives and on a piece of ParaCord or ball chain or on a keyring, you place that modified (striker) knife, a flint rod, Metal Match or Doan Magnesium Firestarter and a small stainless steel (waterproof) pill container. In the container, you pack in as many cottonballs as you can.
This is a large and very dense cottonball, it is "Sunmark" brand. You can get a bag of them for a couple of bucks and one of these cottonballs will light a half-dozen fires, at least.
The four types of pill containers, three are stainless steel, one is plastic. It's an "advertising" item from a chain pharmacy. You used to get stuff like this for free, now they charge you AND put their name on it, you pay them and they get free advertising. That's why you don't see the name, that pharmacy chain sucks and they receive no free advertising from me.
Simple! Put that in the console (armrest) of your car or the glove compartment and you will always have a little emergency firestarting kit for winter emergencies. There is no fluid to leak and no plastic to melt and no danger of a butane lighter popping in a car during the summer months. I have never heard of a butane lighter cooking off in a hot car but let me put it this way, 140 degrees plus temperature and butane in a thin piece of plastic is not really a good idea in my opinion. Just me, you might be different.
The Evolution: Some Things Never Change
Look at what people post on various discussion forums. Knife after knife, flashlight after flashlight. Firearms, wallets, did I mentioned knives? Watches, various pocket doo-dads, keychains. This, that and definitely the other.
Nothing has changed for most of us, some of the tools got more expensive, some got better, some got demonstrably worse.
And that is one of the things I found most interesting about my own personal evolution throughout life. I'm still basically carrying the same stuff thirty years later. The same basic life equipment. I had to get me another couple huge safety pins though! My Dad and I used to string squirrels and rabbits from them when the game pockets were filled to capacity - The Good Old Days!
All Good Things Come To An End
As you finish this article I want you to keep one thing in mind. Well, a couple things actually
None of this should be taken the wrong way. Although I had this stuff when I was a kid, there was nothing "psycho" about it at all. In other words, these were not the only things I was interested in. I actually liked TOYS. I LOVED Matchbox and Hotwheels cars, Tonka trucks and bulldozers. I had, at any given time, a five-gallon bucket full of the small green army men with various jeeps, tanks and howitzers.
I was particularly fond of Tops, especially Whizzzer Tops and "trick trays" for them as well as Marbles and Yo-Yos.
And I still love these things
I am more likely to quote people like Thomas Jefferson than the Bible, but this seems fitting:
1st Corinthians, Chapter 13
11: When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12. For now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face: now I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known.
I'm not going to put away these things. I know that is not what the passage is about but it's simply an awesome piece of writing. Many people will read this series of articles and go away shaking their head, I don't know how many will understand it. Time will tell. If you just want to take these articles as "70s Retro," that's fine as well. It's a lot more than that to me.
It's especially irritating to hear someone who has "been into knives" for one, two or three years pontificating about locks and steels and this, that and the other. It's incredibly aggravating to hear people go on and on about how a knife is made, what it is made out of and the rest of that. I'm not talking about the Knifemakers, they are fascinating to read. I'm talking about all of the little wannabe "knife testers" and "knife experts." There is a place for it, but I really like to read/hear about what people did with knives and what they can do with them.
A person that can carve something useful out of wood while sitting around a campfire is one-hundred times more interesting than someone who has been reading forums dedicated to knives for a couple of years and they can sing the praises of various steels and locks.
All of that is the easily-acquired knowledge. After all, they're just parking their ass in front of a computer and absorbing what they read and then regurgitating it a year or so later as their own. Every hobby, every "interest" has these types of people on the Internet. Having all of this information at your fingertips is a very powerful thing, an excellent tool. It is also the dregs because of the Johnny-come-lately "experts" that crop up on every forum from watches to knives to guns and toy trains.
Just as an example, some of these people would really take old men to task when it comes to knives
Some old guys, for example, would "ruin" a new pocketknife. They would lay that little pig out on a whetstone and dump a bunch of Browning gun oil on it and they would run that thing back and forth like a straight razor. These Johnny-come-lately "knife experts" would cringe. But the old guys knew what they wanted, they wanted a knife that would really cut. The sides of the blade looked like fresh hell, but that knife would cut like no other. The little knife scribblers, many of whom only cut hair off of their arm, they don't understand things like that.
And I know there are guys out there that really know what they're doing with knives and they post on forums and this is not aimed at them. It's just frustrating to get in yet another debate with someone just to find out they're seventeen years old but they know more than people who have been using knives longer than they have been alive. If that sounds arrogant to you, well, you might be part of the problem.
The End, finally!
Copyright Don Rearic 2006
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