Jack Stallard: The pocket knife … what can’t he do? | Opinion
A tweet from my Facebook and Twitter friend and fellow reporter Adela Jones Holda in Houston reminded me of a flood of memories Thursday.
“On a trip through rural Texas, I once saw a man slice a fresh tomato from the backyard for his burger at Burger King. Some people know how to live, ”Adela wrote, adding that the gentleman used his trusty pocket knife to get the job done.
I immediately thought of my dad and the time he pulled out his pocket knife at a Burger King in Johnson City, Tennessee, because the fast food restaurant didn’t give him a fork to use to eat the taters. who accompanied his Whopper.
The “taters” were fries, of course, and even though I tried to explain to daddy that they were meant to be eaten with his fingers, he had none.
“That’s why I don’t go out to eat,” Dad said, stabbing the fries with his pocket knife. “If this place served turnip greens (he asked, and they didn’t), I bet they would want me to use my hands for those too.”
Dad lived almost 10 years longer and he never set foot in another fast food restaurant. It wasn’t the last time, however, that I saw him use his pocket knife to go about his business.
It was a daily occurrence.
I have no proof, but I’m pretty sure there was a time when every male child born in this country was given a pocket knife as soon as he was able to wrap his little fingers around one. These young boys learned to treasure these knives, and most of them carried them until they died.
My father was of that generation. I don’t remember a time when he was caught off guard in a situation that required something sharp. If he was awake he had his pocket knife with him.
I would have liked to ask him questions about the origin of his pocket knife, but I never did. I was careful, however, and from dad I learned that a good pocket knife could be used for:
- Cutting up a credit card at a department store when the manager failed to pay off a rain suit that collapsed the first time it got wet. I wouldn’t suggest pulling out a knife at a department store counter these days, but Dad certainly made his point clear.
- Peel an apple so that all the skin comes off in one piece. Dad could do this every time. I tried it once and earned the nickname “Johnny Applebleeds”.
- Opening a can of tuna at our campsite when someone (me) forgot to pack a can opener. Dad jokingly (I think) said if he broke his pocket knife when opening a can of tuna he was going to use me as bait on the trot line.
- Clean the fish. After seeing what daddy could do to a fish with his trusty pocket knife, I took this “use myself as bait for trotline” thing a little more seriously. He never had to ask me twice to collect firewood, either.
I didn’t have the same affinity for pocket knives, but like most boys, I idolized my dad and thought he could do anything.
I’m convinced that if he had been on the Titanic and someone could have gathered five bungee cords, two rolls of duct tape, and a can of WD-40, not only would the boat still be afloat, but Dad would have been able to reduce the estimated time of arrival in New York by 10 hours.
He allegedly used it to carve his initials on the side of the ship before going to dinner at a place with real silverware.