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The city slicker pocket knife vs the country boy's knife.

Discussion in 'Traditional Folders and Fixed Blades' started by jackknife, May 27, 2019.

  1. jackknife


    Oct 2, 2004
    They say attitude is everything. The little dog thinks he's a big dog, the underdog that takes on the world. Attitude accounts for a lot things for a lot of people. When those people come from vastly different backgrounds it can be startling.

    Pocket knives for instance. I guess I was lucky growing, to have a foot on two entirely different worlds. My dad's family all were hard working watermen down on the Eastern shore of Maryland, while my dad's job when he came home from the war was based in Washington D.C. From September to June, my existence was that of a city boy, with the rare exceptions of Christmas and Easter when we went "home" of the holidays. But from mid June to when school started again, I was down 'home' on the Chesapeake bay with family. It was like stepping into a whole different world, totally alien to the one I lived in most of theme. Some of granddad's cronies were some rough old cobs, and things down on the bay were a bit more down to earth. Like pocket knives.

    Granddads coconspirators in life hunted and fished as a way of life. Some legally and some not so legally. Deer, goose, ducks, rabbits, quail, dove, squirrel, were common on the dinner table. The plain old single barrel shotgun was the standard firearm of the time and place, and every waterman had a couple of them around. One on the boat, and another behind the kitchen door. It was at a young age that I learned the shotgun was the end all of hunting guns for people on a tight budget. One single gun could take down pretty much anything in North America depending on what it was loaded with. Slug for deer, birdshot for smaller game, and 00 buckshot for keeping the home front safe. Sometimes a .22 rifle was on hand for particular jobs, and sheer joy of plinking some beer cans and poaching.

    With this much game being taken, the pocket knife was the most used tool. It was there, it was handy, and it was kept sharp. Though the guns of the watermen were plain Jane affairs, their pocket knives were things that were doted on and pride taken in. The brand was important, and real jigged bone was the material used. None of that plastic stuff. And real carbon steel blades instead of that stainless stuff that was fit only for butter knives and table wear. Stag was a material held in high regard for Sunday go-to-meeting knives as was real pearl. Blades were kept hair shaving sharp, and they were never used for abusive tasks. Thats what screw drivers were for. The country knife user seemed to take more pride in his pocket knife in general. My Uncle Mike had an old Camillus stockman that had been issued by the U.S. Navy in WW2. He kept that old knife for over 40 years, treating it gently and sharpening it with care to make it last. My own dad had his little Case peanut for as long, treating it with care. Both men took care not to over sharpen. By contrast, I've seen a guy in the city strop his knife on the edge of a sidewalk to put a rough edge on it in a hurry. He didn't care about the damage to the knife in the long run.

    By contrast, the city dwellers I knew as a boy in D.C. seemed to see the pocket knife as a disposable tool for scraping, prying, screw driving, chipping, wire stripping, and maybe even cutting if the occasion called for it. They were sold at the local five and dime stores in the neighborhood, and if the old one got too worn down by sharpening on the sidewalk, or broke from prying, it got tossed in the trash can, and another was bought off the stand up cardboard display by the cash register at the corner store. The most common had those cracked ice celluloid or fake pearl plastic scales and two thin carbon steel blades, and cost about the same as the nail clippers on the other cardboard stand up display. Even most women carried one in a purse for opening the packages that came bound with the white cotton twine that was used on everything from the post office to the pork chops in the white paper from the butchers shop. And pencils had to be sharpened, as the ball point pen explosion hadn't happened yet. The pens of the day were the fountain pen or the cartridge pens, both of which tend to either leak, or run dry just when you had to write something down. So most people carried a stub of a pencil wth them, and a small knife was useful in putting a new point on it now and then. I recall my dad always had a short pencil in his pocket and I asked him why once. He told me that a pencil will never go dry on you, writes on a wide variety of surfaces, won't run if it gets wet, and the graphite is the best dry lubricant for sticky locks and fishing reels. To this day, I still carry a golf pencil in my pocket.

    City and country, and a whole different attitude. I guess nowadays most city fold don't even carry knife. If they work in a store or even warehouse, its a safety box cutter for the job. Last time I visited the Maryland Easterns home, all the old folks that made it an interesting place were gone. Now it's all high rent waterfront condos and fancy seafood restaurants and such.

    I guess living in different areas can give you a totally different view on life.
  2. scrteened porch

    scrteened porch Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 19, 2012
    Good point. I'm glad I still have some "lead" pencils.
  3. 315

    315 Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 2, 2017
    Excellent little piece, as always.
  4. Pogonasong

    Pogonasong Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 27, 2018
    I enjoyed the read thoroughly. I will throw in that at prior manual labor retail jobs I worked after high school it definitely was a strict rule for workers to use the box cutters specifically issued by the HR department of the company. Kroger made the biggest deal out of it and the first time i was caught using my own knife involved a counselling notice where the hr lady explained that the plastic box cutters were "ergonomic and would prevent strain" hahaha wish I could post a picture of what they looked like.
    zolthar and scrteened porch like this.
  5. Railsplitter

    Railsplitter Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 31, 2010
    We have a similar rule at my workplace but fortunately, it isn't enforced as much as it used to be. We are supposed to use company provided Wiss box cutters in which the blade automatically retracts back into the handle after each cut. So you have to push the blade open again after each cut.

    It's still a rule. Just not enforced much anymore.
    zolthar and Pogonasong like this.
  6. scrteened porch

    scrteened porch Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 19, 2012
    Looking for a rolling eyes with pained expression and no smile emoticon.

    Might make for an interesting knife-fight, though.
    zolthar, Pogonasong and Railsplitter like this.
  7. Hickory n steel

    Hickory n steel Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 11, 2016
    Pretty well said, and might still be true to some extent depending on where you live.
    I personally live in a small rural town in northern California, there's many towns and cities within an hour, but with the exception of everything in the more urban Sacramento area most bigger towns and smaller cities are still kind of rural with lots of farmers and farm workers around.
    This makes for a fairly knife friendly environment.

    I'm not sure of any kind of specific rule enforced at work, but I work with my old man and he have me a spare easy cut 1000 or whatever it's called he had In his locker when I first started.
    I use it most times since it's a bit handier with it's quick access holster and stretchy lanyard and all when I'm on the clock.
    Most of my cutting is just the tape and not the boxes themselves since we've got a bailer, but because of this the box cutter isn't that sharp anymore since it doesn't need to be for cutting the tape.
    Sometimes I want to break all the cardboard down and fit it neatly into one box so I can take it out all at once when the time comes , then I will use whatever knife is in my pocket since they're always kept shaving sharp.
    Last edited: May 27, 2019
    Storm 8593, tmd_87 and JSutter like this.
  8. waverave

    waverave Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Jun 7, 2018
    I enjoy reading your posts :) I think you nailed it with your closing statement. When I lived in Arkansas, just about everyone had one or more knives on them at all times...for all the reasons you mentioned. Most of the knives we all had were gifts or passed on from family members so I think that instilled a deeper sentimental value than buying one off the shelf. Conversely, living in the city presents different attititudes, needs and uses for a blade (including protection). In the city, many things are disposable and replaceable and meant to toss away when they no longer suit the owner.
    JSutter and Pogonasong like this.
  9. TexasTomcat

    TexasTomcat Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 21, 2018
    One problem these days which discourages carrying a pocket knife in 'the city' is that there are many buildings/events where knives of any sort are not allowed and the screening upon entry will discover them - voluntarily or otherwise. So - if you forgot to leave in the truck, it's a walk back to leave it or lose it at the door. I don't think we care to give up any of the knives we discuss here on the porch to 'Joe Blow' at an event metal detector. For example, this past Sunday - Stros/Red Sox baseball game; parked and walking to stadium - oops, back to the truck to leave the knife. Same situation at airports, sports stadiums, concerts, government buildings, court houses, some stores, malls, etc. NO KNIVES! This is what is called civilization....perhaps.
  10. oldrifleman

    oldrifleman Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Jan 5, 2006
    I have been away too long! I am realizing how much I miss these stories. As so many have said, these are must reads for everyone, so much wisdom to be found here!
    Misplaced Hillbilly likes this.
  11. Wowbagger

    Wowbagger Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 20, 2015
    I carry and use a fountain pen every day . . .
    hahaha I carry a ball point pen right next to it for when the fountain runs dry.

    I am a total city slicker but fortunately for me my Dad was a practical farm boy who had a huge dose of mechanical and geeter done ability so I picked up a lot from him. Wheeeeeuuuuu . . . lucky for me.

    Nothing chaps me more than seeing a needlessly over sharpened knife.
    Partly why I like my Edge Pro so much; no wasted strokes.

    To quote Mr T : I pitty da foool . . .
    who lives in the city and is so distracted by unimportant nonsense to be able to focus and learn well much of anything useful .
  12. Wowbagger

    Wowbagger Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 20, 2015
    Lately people post "TLTR" and off they go looking for a quick sentence or two.
    It's a shame but a sign of our times.
  13. cudgee

    cudgee Gold Member Gold Member

    May 13, 2019
    Loved your story. My family grew up in the bush in Australia but i was born and raised in the city, my parents had to move to the city for my fathers work. But i spent all my school holidays back in my family's home town. Your story is so relevant to me and i can still remember being given my first pocket knife from a friend of the family who had a farm. It was a Joseph Rodgers bunny knife from De Grandi's sports store in Warrnambool, Victoria-Australia. I still remember him driving me into Warrnambool and telling me that i was old and responsible enough to have my own knife. That started my love of pocket knives which i still have to this day. over 50 years later. And all bush people carried a pencil, especially the farmers at stock sales because a pencil would still write in the rain. Have a good day.
  14. CVamberbonehead

    CVamberbonehead Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 6, 2017
    Im also from the Eastern Shore of MD and I lived for a while in Arlington VA, and the same applies today. Back on the farm I saw Stockman and Jack knives, sometimes a belt knife. Usually Case or Buck, and some old Schrades too. In the city, no one carries a knife, and if they do its some chinese flea market junker or a "tactical" knife of some sort. (In my anecdotal experience)
    People in the country (though theres less of it on the Eastern Shore today :() use their stuff, and they have to take care of it. People in the city used knives too (usually as a pry bar or screwdriver) but they were so restricted in carrying them that they just didnt bother after a while.
    Last edited: May 29, 2019
    Misplaced Hillbilly likes this.
  15. Henry Beige

    Henry Beige Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 1, 2015
    A couple of weekends ago, Conchita and I went to a birthday party at a notoriously rough bar in a notoriously rough part of town. Security people almost outnumbered the patrons, and we were wanded at the door. The bouncer asked me if I had anything sharp in there, and I told him I had three pocket knives, but nothing I would consider a weapon.

    Apparently, he didn’t figure this fat old white guy as a troublemaker, because he let me pass without even looking at the contents of my pockets. That same handful of blades passed without comment into CVS Field, where the Saints play, and my peanut slid under the radar at Target Field for a Twins game.

    By contrast, I couldn’t even get the slides on my suspenders past courthouse security in most of the counties where I practiced. Getting pantsed by the bailiffs is one of the things I really didn’t miss when I retired from the practice of law.
    Storm 8593, Pinemoon, Shurke and 7 others like this.
  16. JohnDF

    JohnDF Gold Member Gold Member

    May 14, 2018
    Growing up, all the Country Boys carried a Schrade knife, and all the City Boys carried a Buck knife.
    That's probably the reason I still don't like Buck knives to this day (no offense to the Buck fans). I did buy a Buck knife once, a little stockman, but promptly sold it. Just didn't feel right to switch sides. :D
  17. Misplaced Hillbilly

    Misplaced Hillbilly Gold Member Gold Member

    May 16, 2018
    I grew up in very rural Appalachia, I got a cheap pen knife when I was 8. When I showed competence with it,I was allowed a "real" knife. Same for my sister, she chose a yellow parker stockman. Oddly enough this past Christmas when I gifted my Dad a Brand new Boker stockman, he pulled out the yellow parker from his pocket. He's still got my little pen knife in his keepsake box. My choice was a Vic SAK camper. I was in the scouts at the time. Unfortunately I lost it sometime in my early 20's. When I was growing up a man would leave home without his pants before he did without his pocket knife. Awhile back I was in a local store,one of those country places that sells gas and hardware, and you can sit down and have a burger and fries. There was a young man in his late teens or early 20s working in the hardware part, a older man came in and bought some rope off a big spool they have. I was pleasantly surprised when the young fella pulled out a stockman to cut it with. I wasn't close enough to see the brand. In this day and age seems so many in the country are carrying those modern folder/utility hybrids. I have one in my tool bag for sheetrock. But it was nice to see at least one of the millennial generation using a traditional knife and saying "sir" and "ma'am" to his elders.
  18. T. Erdelyi

    T. Erdelyi Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 3, 2001
    Great story Jack, same could be said for blue collar vs white collar to a degree.
    Misplaced Hillbilly likes this.
  19. Prester John

    Prester John Gold Member Gold Member

    May 20, 2018
    Really hated emptying my pockets every single time I entered the federal courthouse. Had to take off belt and shoes too!
    They wand me at the hockey game, but I can still get into the AA baseball park without getting searched or walking through a metal detector. MLB I think has them, though.
    scrteened porch likes this.
  20. the rat

    the rat

    Feb 3, 2009
    Another great read! When my daughter told me that a boy she went to school with wanted to ask her out one of the first questions I asked her was did he carry a pocket knife. I was raised that any male worth his salt carried a pocket knife. I knew of a guy that owned his own business and when he would interview a fellow for a job he always asked if they carried a knife. If they did he would ask to see it. If it was sharp and clean he would hire them. If it was dull and dirty he wouldn't hire them. And when they asked why they didn't get the job he would say if a man won't take care of his own equipment how can I trust him to take care of mine. I always have a knife in my pocket and most times more than one!

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