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Pretty. Pocket Knives

In the old days every boy (and every man) carried a pocket knife. They came in many sizes, shapes and degrees of beauty. The farmer who used his knife for cutting harness, skinning skunks, peeling apples, cutting watermelons, heading maize, cutting fodder for the livestock, just plain whittling or for any of hundreds of chores that required a durable knife, usually had a rugged barlow that was sturdy, strong and efficient, but was not a thing of beauty.

A town store clerk or barber or any dressed up dude might have a smaller knife with pearl handles, This was a pretty knife. Generally speaking, the size and the appearance of the handles determined whether a knife was pretty. Some of the pretty ones also performed well as a utility knife.

The first year I attended school, I had acquired a beautiful knife that also was a very practical tool. It had colorful, sparking handles and the blades were clean and sharp. It was the envy of many of my classmates. It had been a birthday gift in an era when birthday gifts were meager or non existent. The uncle who gave it to me was overly generous. I don't remember ever receiving another gift from him. Perhaps it was because he had spent several months with us while recovering from surgery. But I entered the first grade of school with a beautiful knife.

There was one classmate by the name of Othel who had a rather ugly, scroungy knife with a broken handle and one blade without a tip. It was definitely not in a class with my beautiful one with the sparkling, pretty handles. After a few days I began to notice something odd. A pretty, golden haired girl said, "Othel, let me borrow your knife. I need to sharpen my pencil."

Othel willingly obliged, and she bragged on the old knife while she whittled on the pencil. About the time she finished, a brown haired beauty with dark eyes came up and looked Othel in the eye with a big smile. "Oh, what a nice knife. May I borrow it at lunch time to peel my apple?" Othel beamed with pride, "Of course! Any time!"

I took another closer look at the knife. I still didn't see the beauty and charm that they had indicated it possessed. This scene was repeated every day. As it progressed, it became more exciting. There were at least a half dozen girls wanting to borrow that "pretty knife" for everything from trimming their fingernails to scraping the mud off their shoes. I became more puzzled about the obvious appeal of the knife.

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