by Steve Sorensen (Originally published in the Warren Times Observer, October 12, 2013.)
a question that separates the country boys from the city boys. I can make that
claim because this country boy spent nine years living in three cities, and
never carried a knife then. Today, on the rare occasions when I forget to carry
a knife I feel incomplete.
carry a knife? Because it’s probably the simplest tool man ever invented. (Using
a rock as a hammer pre-dates the knife, but a rock hardly qualifies as an
invention.) It’s also one of the most basic. (Yes, the rock-hammer is a little
more basic.) And it’s the most useful. If you play Rock-Paper-Knife instead of
Rock-Paper-Scissors, my money will be on the knife.
A knife can do more
jobs than you can imagine,
and some it was never intended to do.
knife does a wide variety of jobs. You can open your mail with a knife. You can
cut through virtually indestructible, modern clamshell packaging. You can sever
a rope. Open cardboard boxes. Do a manicure. (And if you’re really flexible, a
you need to start a fire you can make fine shavings from a stick for kindling. If
you’re a gardener you can open seed packets, cut suckers from your tomato
plants, and graft buds onto root stock. If you’re a woodworker, you can trim
splinters, wedge a crack apart so you can work in some glue, and trim dried
glue. If you’re a hunter you can trim shooting lanes, field dress an animal and
cut twine to attach a harvest tag.
can play electrician and use a knife to strip insulation from wire. You can
play mechanic and cut wire to clamp a coolant hose, or clean corroded battery
terminals. You can play florist and arrange flowers with a knife. You can dig
the mud out of your shoes, then cut a sliver out of your finger, then use it as
a fork for eating peaches out of a can. (To a country boy, washing the blade is
you’re a romantic country boy you can carve your initials into the trunk of a
tree, along with your girlfriend’s initials, and cut a heart around them.
emergencies, doctors have used pocket knives to cut tracheotomies, and used the
barrel of a pen for a breathing tube. In another kind of emergency you can cut
a seat belt. In your leisure you can play mumbley-peg. (Google it.) If you’re a
farmer you can do just about anything.
knife can do more jobs than you can imagine, and some it was never intended to
do. Many jobs are hard on the blade, so some people carry two knives – one
quality knife with a good cutting blade, and another of lesser quality they
don’t mind abusing. Some people carry more than two. You can’t have too many.
to keep a knife? In a pocket or on a belt. Or you can dangle a neck knife under
your shirt. You could strap one to your ankle to keep the weight out of your
the late 1880s, the Swiss Army wanted a folding pocket knife designed so
soldiers could open canned food and disassemble the Swiss service rifle. Voilà – a multi-tool was born. By
loading a variety of other tools into a compact package, a Swiss Army Knife has
been designed for nearly every profession, from doctor to soldier to tinker. Not
even computer geeks are left out – Victorinox has a model with a USB thumb
drive on it.
two companies make “official” Swiss Army knives. To distinguish themselves from
a hundred imitators, Victorinox claims to be “the original” and Wenger calls
theirs “the genuine” Swiss Army Knife.
I was a kid on the school bus I remember carrying a very small fixed-blade
knife. The blade couldn’t have been more than an inch and a half long. I had
lost the sheath, which led to a problem. The short version of the long story is
that I did a bad thing with it, purely an accident, but I didn’t get tossed
from school. All kids carried knives back then – country boys couldn’t live
knife is simply a tool you can use for right or wrong, good or bad. Because you
can do bad, some people would like to ban knives. But what can’t you do bad things
a knife. Then when someone asks, “Got a knife on ya’?” it may not be the
perfect knife for the task, but it’ll do the job.