BrainRants has recently published a couple of posts about strange old stuff he owns, with the accent on strange. The first was about a truly bizarre little plastic/rubber Gollywog, whose childhood acquisition and continuing possession may help explain his current mental state.
I don’t own any strange things, although with me, that’s hard to prove. I do still have chunks of glacier in my freezer, from the last ice age, so I thought I might write about a couple of long-owned/old items that the Historical Museum hasn’t got their hands on yet.
No surprise, I’m starting with a knife. This was the second knife I ever bought, just before I turned 16, late in the summer of 1960. I had possessed several knives before this one, but they had been gifts or found items. The first knife I bought was exactly the same size and shape as this one, except that it had rough faux-bone handles.
While the “hold” was better, I preferred the sleek white faux-seashell look of this one, and lost/sold/broke the first one. Back then folding pocket knives didn’t lock in the open position, and care had to be taken when using them, lest they close on an unwary finger.
I carried this one till well after I got married. We moved into a geared-to-income housing compound. Built by the lowest bidder, there was a round electrical box on the ceiling of the basement laundry area, but no light fixture. I didn’t want to wait for an overburdened maintenance dept. and, being a Handy-Dandy DIY guy, (Yuk, Yuk) I decided to install one myself.
Since there was no light to turn on and off, I traced the electrical cable back to the breaker box, and then the black power line down to its breaker, which I turned off, for safety. I climbed back up on a wooden chair, and pulled down the power line to cut the insulation off, so that I could connect the fixture.
Suddenly, there was a ZAP, and a photo flash went off right beside my eyes. When I could see again, I looked at the wire and my knife. There are two power lines inside each cable. I had turned off the power to the black one – and cut into the still-live red one.
The more sharp-eyed among you may already have noticed what this close-up shows. I had bridged from the live wire to the edge of the box, and burned a notch right out of the center of the blade. I wasn’t shocked, except by the damage to my pretty little knife, which has gone into semi-retirement in the utility room, cutting off shrink-wrap and into cardboard food boxes.
Soon after, in the fall of 1970, I found this replacement knife at K-Mart, that defender of the American Way. Manufactured when Pakistan thought that it could produce steel, and I only cared about a pointy tip and a beveled edge, I bought this little Sabre knife, making it about as old as Rants.
With wooden scales and a thicker body, this one is a bit easier to hold and use. It also has a back-lock at the rear of the handle, making it a bit safer to use. It has outlasted 6 or 7 belt pouches, going into retirement in an indestructible nylon sheath which only needed its Velcro closer replaced.
This was largely a “work” knife, cutting strapping, plastic and vinyl sheet and cardboard cartons. It has cut at least two co-workers out of shoes whose laces just would just not untie. It has quartered and cored countless apples and pears, and started tough banana peels. It has opened several cans of pop (soda) whose tabs broke off. It has also acted as a can opener to several tins of beans, soup and pasta, for friends who mistakenly thought the lunch room had a working can opener.
I’m a lot more careful about the tips and edges of my carry knife these days. After almost 45 years of tough usage, this little $5.99 “piece of crap” doesn’t owe me a thing. More old stuff, including jokes, later.