Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Southern Proper Duck Camo Frat Hat

Tonight I happened to glance at the Southern Proper website and noticed that they are now offering a Duck Camo Frat Hat. Previously, Southern Proper's only camo offering was in what appears to be some type of Realtree or Mossy Oak camo. As someone who doesn't really do any deer hunting, I was hoping that they might eventually offer an alternative, preferably in something similar to the "old school" duck camo that was popular from the 1940s through the 1980s. Well, ask and ye shall receive.

I also noticed that they're offering a Frat Hat in waxed cotton. This looks like this would also be a great hat, even in the duck blind. Especially on those cold, rainy days.

Both hats can be purchased from the Southern Proper website for $25 each (along with the original camo Frat Hat). 

Friday, April 13, 2012

On Pocketknives: Matt Summers

As an addendum to my original post on pocketknives, I've asked some others to share their own knives and the stories behind them.

Matt Summers was a classmate of mine of in graduate school, is a former Green Beret, a semi-pro adventure racer, and real estate mogul. In spite of being a Yankee, he is one of the nicest, most selfless guys that I have ever met. I asked Matt if he would do a post on his knife, suspecting that he might have a good story, and he didn't disappoint.

Being Matt’s Pocket Knife
An Essay by Matt’s Pocket Knife.

I was born circa 2005 in Oregon City, OR. My Maker assembled me by hand on His craftsman’s table in a well lit, warm building sometime in the spring. I know it was the spring because I was shipped to my guide’s location and given to him as the snow was gone and it was getting warmer outside. I was delivered with about six dozen of my peers who were part of a special batch Benchmade Knives being sent to Ft. Bragg, NC. Although my Maker didn’t tell me much about what I would be doing or how I would be treated, he knew that I was going somewhere adverse because He built me with the strength and efficiency I needed to get me through my working life.

The "author" of the story

Once I arrived at Ft. Bragg, I was separated from my peers and put into Tuff Box with a bunch of, what I call, “goodies”. The goodies were made up of laser grips for an M-9 Beretta, Asolo Boots, Camel Back Bladders, a Puffy coat and pants, seven H&K Magazines for M-4 rifles, Eotech and ACOG optics and a few other things that brought a smile to my guide’s face when I met him for the first time. I was pretty self assured and had a chip on my shoulder because I knew I was different from the other goodies in a few ways: First, I was the only one that was truly handmade and part of a special group that was created for a special purpose. All of the other “things” were not special; they were just “things”. Second, I knew that because of the way my Maker created me, I would be physically attached to my guide at all times; whereas my counterparts would only be carried when my guide needed them. And last, I was the only item in the box that had conscience and the ability to write essays.

It wasn’t long after my guide clipped me to his right pant pocket for the first time that I found myself in an ancient and confused land spilling over with boredom, anticipation, excitement, hope and despair all at the same moment. I heard him call it Afghanistan.

My first real job in this place was preparing counter-IED charges. They are simple devices that include about one minute of time fuse, a four wrap of detonation (“Det Cord”) cord, two M-112 C-4 plastic explosive (“C-4”) blocks, some 100 mph Tape, two fuse igniters and two blasting caps. You see, my guide was a bomb guy, which by coincidence also made him a counter-bomb guy; so whenever he or his friends encountered a bomb or a suspected bomb, we would be the ones who checked it out, and if suspicions were confirmed, we would either disarm it or blow it in place. This part of the job, although it made my blade-well pucker, gave me a sense of purpose; I knew that if I did what I was supposed to, I could keep my guide and his friends intact and alive.

My second job, or maybe better stated as my “real” job, was to serve as an opening agent for a mysterious and wonderful blend of American spices and organic plants which were aged and processed into a wonderful concoction called Copenhagen. My guide had a real affinity for this stuff. I remember one time I heard my guide on his radio confirming he understood that he and his friends were heading into an imminent ambush and that they were “almost” prepared for it. When the operator at the other end of the radio asked why “almost” prepared, he responded, “we need to stop to put a dip in and we’ll be good to go”. And that’s exactly what they did…it’s a hell of a thing to see twelve grown men putting cut up plant in between their gum and their lip as a “pre-game” ritual before another fight for their life…but hey…it’s the little things. I’m just glad to have played a part in it.

Other than the bombs and the Copenhagen, I had several odd jobs. On more than one occasion I pried hot brass out of a jammed .50 Caliber machine gun during times that my guide referred to as the “hot and heavy moments”. Other times I was used to cut candy bars in half for the poor children that lived everywhere we went. I remember being used as an adjustment tool to my guide’s windage and elevation on his long gun. I was used to butcher a sheep my guide purchased from a farmer when an operation ran a few days longer than expected and we ran out of food. I had a hundred odd jobs and I loved them all.

By the end of my working days I was tired. Although I was young, I felt as though I had done and seen enough for two lifetimes. I had been around the world a few times, met some wonderful knives and had a deep sense of purpose. I am grateful for my experiences. Now, with my and my guide’s working days behind us, I spend most of my time next to a really rare knife named Yarborough 2306 who seems kind of weird to me. Not only does he stay in his sheath all of the time, but he and his sheath live in a box. So I guess it would be more appropriate to say that I spend most of my time next to a box that has a sheath inside of it, and a knife inside of it. When I asked him about the sheath and the box, he said that he needed it because he was special, but how special can one be if they never get out of their box, let alone their sheath?

The author of the story and his drawer-mate

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

New Music

Here are a few albums I've been pretty excited about lately.

José González- In Our Nature

I came across José González via a random Youtube video. He's an Argentine-born Swedish artist who I would describe as a 21st Century Nick Drake. In Our Nature is the 2007 follow-up to his 2003 debut, Veneer (which I have not yet listened to), and is composed almost exclusively of him singing and playing classical guitar. It is a bit somber in mood (as description I typically prefer rather than avoid), but it is brightened up by a slight Latin flair. Check out one of his songs from the album, "In Our Nature," below.

Alabama Shakes- Boys & Girls

The Alabama Shakes have been getting a lot of press lately. They've been making the late night talk show rounds and were even featured in the latest issue of Garden & Gun. They have been all over Twitter and almost all of the shows on their current tour are sold out. It's all for good reason, however. The band is from Athens, Alabama, which isn't typically considered to be a hotbed of music. However, their music has a throwback sound, and is a combination of blues, gospel, and Southern rock. It's great music for the spring and upcoming summer, and is great for driving down the road with the windows down. Right now you can get the MP3 album for only $5 on Amazon.com. Check out an in-studio version of the first song on the album, "Hold On," below. If you can't get into this song, well, I have no other advice for you.

M. Ward- A Wasteland Companion

I'll admit, I haven't listened to this album yet, though I am downloading it (legally) as I type. However, M. Ward is one of my favorite artists and I've been excited about this album for a while. It's Ward's first album since 2009's Hold Time, which I loved. If you're not familiar with M. Ward, just know that he his the "Him" part of Zooey Deschanel's She & Him albums. M. Ward's music has an interesting quality in that while it has evolved over the past thirteen years, it all has a similar, and fairly timeless, sound. From what I heard of the album so far, A Wasteland Companion is no exception. Ward is an excellent songwriter and even better guitar player. If you like good music, chances are you like this album. And like the Alabama Shakes' album, it's only $5 on Amazon.com right now. Check out the video for "The First Time I Ran Away," from the new album, below.

Monday, April 9, 2012

On Pocketknives: Greg from Manifold Destiny

As an addendum to my original post on pocketknives, I've asked some others to share their own knives and the stories behind them.

Greg has an excellent eye for design and style, as can be seen on his blog Manifold Destiny. It's now in Tumblr format, so if you're on Tumblr, be sure to follow him. Otherwise, look for updates in my blog roll to the right.

The Knives I Don't Carry
To paraphrase the inimitable Martin Short in Father of the Bride: every party has a pooper, that's why Trip invited me. Though it may horrify the Southern blogosphere, I do not carry a pocketknife on a daily basis. That's not to say I'm opposed to knives, quite the opposite actually: I've had access to sharp implements long before it would be even remotely prudent. I received a Swiss Army Recruit when I was 5 for serving as a ring bearer in my uncle's wedding. That carried me through many years of Cub and Boy Scouting, surviving trips to Bert Adams Scout Camp, and once spending 6-8 months rolled up inside a tent in our basement before being rescued the next spring. In high school I worked as a summer camp counselor and bought an elaborate Spyderco knife that managed to get lost at a lacrosse teammate's party in remarkably short time for such an expensive piece of cutlery. College often saw me without a knife, which was probably for the best from a public safety standpoint, but I did carry a Case Sodbuster during most of law school, which is most useful during a recession for opening rejection letters.

Nevertheless, I eventually secured employment in Washington, DC. Much like a spy behind enemy lines, I'm deep in foreign (Yankee) territory here, and dare not carry personal effects that would identify myself as a southerner. The bow ties and seersucker do that well enough. Our nation's capital has weapons laws that were presumably drafted by Gandhi himself, which I'm sure is quite comforting to the gentleman who was stabbed on my block a few weeks ago. Most of my day is spent in government buildings, and despite being a lawyer myself, I can't for the life of me decipher the regulations surrounding what kind of knives might or might not earn me a trip to federal prison. Someday I'll live again in an area where grown men can be trusted to carry pointy objects in public. Until then, my knives will be staying home.

Friday, April 6, 2012

On Pocketknives: Joe Gannon

As an addendum to my original post on pocketknives, I've asked some others to share their own knives and the stories behind them.

I met Joe Gannon a couple of years ago in Nashville and he seemed like an excellent candidate for a post. If his name sounds familiar, you may recall the project he is working on with Max Wastler called "Made Right Here" (I did a blog post about it a few months back. Joe is a great guy and often sports an amazing mustache. Be sure to check out his personal blog as well.

When I was a senior in college I lost my Grandfather. Howard Joseph Gannon, Sr. was a woodworker, a story teller, an old farm boy, a former factory worker, a deer hunter, a pretty typical Eastern Shore man. As a kid, I used to spend summer weekends watching him build wooden toys for the other grandkids in his little home workshop. Cedar hope chest's for the girls, gun racks and wooden trucks hauling "logs" for the boys. In between the hum of the table saw and the scuffing of sandpaper he'd tell me stories of his childhood. He'd remind me how neighbors would thrash wheat as a community. In between tears of laughter he retold the story of his first airplane ride and how he convinced the pilot to buzz his best friend while he sat astride an old Oliver tractor. He showed me the proper way to make a dovetail joint and how to use a biscuit cutter. Lessons were gifted to a grandson over the smell of sawdust and through the smoke of Chesterfield cigarettes. Perhaps his greatest gift was passing his name down to me. Howard Joseph Gannon, III.

It was weeks after the funeral and I was back at school when my Dad called with a request. "We are heading over to Dad's this weekend to sort out his things. If there's something you want let me know soon." "Just his pocketknife if it's still around..." I shot back over the line.

My Dad is the oldest of five brothers and a sister. They set out to divide up a lifetime of possessions, democratically. Starting with the oldest they went down the line in turn so everyone would get a fair pick. There was a veritable treasure trove of woodworking equipment, a truck or two, and as you can imagine boxes of stuff accumulated over 20 years of living as a bachelor. In a side table they found, "every greeting/birthday/Christmas card anyone had ever sent him" according to my aunt. We had no idea he made room for sentiments.

For his first pick, my Dad chose a $2, poorly sharpened, hardware store pocketknife. Second pick, someone snagged the Ford pickup truck.

Joe's son holding his grandfather's knife.

I've had that knife in my pocket almost everyday since. When I reach for it and can feel it's familiar outline in my pocket I'm comforted to know its safe and sound. I'm always met with a moment of fear when it's not there. Countless times I've turned the truck around miles from home just to retrieve it. It's been lost a few times...but somehow always finds its way back in my life, whether it be from the dryer or the TSA's return of valuable property envelope. It's still just a $2, poorly sharpened hardware special, but I wouldn't take anything pretty for it. After all, the knife really doesn't belong to me. I am just watching after it for my son, Howard Joseph Gannon, IV.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

On Pocketknives: Henry Sanders

As an addendum to my original post on pocketknives, I've asked some others to share their own knives and the stories behind them.

I asked my friend Henry to write a post on pocketknives. His take on the subject is a bit different than those posted so far, but no less relevant.

My knife,

First, I believe in carrying a knife everywhere as it is a super practical tool, and a cutting edge is not something you come across in nature (unlike a hammer, since just about everything can be used to mash the junk out of something else). Second, I lose pocketknives almost as quickly as I buy them. Thus, I have become quite versed in the <$50.00 pocket knife. Third, I didn’t add any photos, so be prepared to use your imagination to paint a wonderful literary photograph of my non-sentimental, mass produced outside of the States, cutting machine.

I always go for one handed openers. While I have a nice collection of Buck and doctors knifes that I got as gifts, they are about as practical as using a black powdered pistol for self-defense. Sure, they carry a much larger amount of class, but f-that: I’m cutting things here. I prefer non-assisted openers as I have had a couple go off in my pocket, which is quite the opposite of awesome. However, that being said, I currently carry an assisted opener and I love it; I just make sure the sharp part stays away from my important areas, i.e. out of my pocket.
I currently carry a Kershaw Speedsafe (my third Kershaw, all assisted openers). My first went in the trash because my mother thought it was a switch blade, and the second my old man stole back from me after I stole it from him. So far so good. I bought it for $20.00 at Mark’s Outdoors in Bham (who I do NOT endorse except for gunsmithing). I didn’t look for a picture, but it has a plastic handle and a sharp pointed metal end for cutting and stabbing. It does both well and is pretty rad.

Point is, I think this knife jams. It is super lightweight, which is important for scrubs and bathing suits. I do carry my knife to work and I really don’t want its weight to cause it to bulge, as some of my knives have. Also, it has a good feel and a nice textured grip which fits the hand nicely. I have purchased several knives which were great except the grip was terrible, which can be a real pain when you are sweating (happens in the South). The clip is solid and doesn’t wiggle lose and the assisted opener isn’t’ so powerful that the knife jumps. Down sides is it’s made in China; I realized this after I purchased it and was pretty upset. It doesn’t have a lock to prevent opening—not super cool either. The clip isn’t ambi, which is also a bummer as I like to carry my CCP on my right side.

I believe in bringing every weapon you can to a gun/knife/fist fight--I really don’t care what the other dude has. That being said, this knife does rock and even though it’s made in China, I’ll probably buy another one. I used to use Ontario Knife Company because they make awesome knives, but they are asses in the customer service department and Yankees, so I said “Later.” I’ll probably go back to them in a bit as their knives are really too good to pass up, and I bear a grudge about as well as Obama runs America.

Monday, April 2, 2012

On Pocketknives: Jay from Red Clay Soul

As an addendum to my original post on pocketknives, I've asked some others to share their own knives and the stories behind them.

If you read this blog, chances are that you're familiar with Red Clay Soul. Jay and I have known each other in real life for over a year a now, so he was an obvious candidate for this post. Here is his contribution to the pocketknife series.

I grew up in a pocket knife carrying family, so having one has never been an issue. In fact, I experience multiple panic-stricken moments on the days that I forget to bring it with me. “Did it fall out of my pocket? Oh Lord – where did I leave it…” until I remember that it’s waiting for me at home. My Granddad was never without his pocket knife. I remember him teaching me how to sharpen a knife with a stone and spit. He carried a Buck for as long as I can remember. We’d give him a new one every few years, but it took him about ten years to trade it out. After his passing, Mom got his last knife and keeps it in her jewelry box.

This Buck Gent has been with me for about twenty years. I bought it at Beaver Creek Landing on Lake Wateree in South Carolina. I’ve ‘lost’ it numerous times, only to have it returned by good friends who found it on the floorboard of their truck, or by my in-laws, who found it beneath their couch cushions.

The size of the Gent is very pocket appropriate, and its weight is just enough to let you know it’s there. It’s not fancy, but it’s not junk. It holds an edge well, and is made in the USA. While it is only a single blade, it has been used for so much more than cutting. I would put it up against any of its Swiss Army cousins.

The value of the $25 I spent on the knife has been more than realized, and I’m sure it’ll eventually make its escape. Until then, here’s to my sharp companion.

Friday, March 30, 2012

On Pocketknives: Ralph Settle

As an addendum to my original post on pocketknives, I've asked some others to share their own knives and the stories behind them.

I mentioned in my original post that it was my friend Ralph (author of the fictional blog A Ralph Down South) who inspired me to carry a pocketknife. Ralph was born and raised in Inman, South Carolina, and carries a Buck 505 "Knight," like his dad. He has included his thoughts on that knife, as well as story about his grandfather's Buck Stockman.

My grandfather carried Bucks his entire life. He grew up during the depression and very much knew the value of a dollar. Buck knives were well made…in America…and always got the job done, plus they were affordable. His motto “if the knife is worth anything, the man who made it would have sharpened it from the factory”. Buck never let him down in that regard, they always came razor sharp. I still remember the last knife my grandfather was given, the Buck Stockman. He had the same knife for years…he did not replace a knife for the sake of owning a new knife. To him a knife was an old friend, trusted and reliable. He used the knife everyday of his life, from working on tractors or cars, whittling a childlike “pipe” for grandchildren (a small stick and the top to an acorn), to castrating hogs. Eventually Gran (what I called my grandfather) lost his old knife somewhere. It could have been in the barn, in the house, in a patch of woods or pasture. None the less he was in the market for a new one. The Christmas of 1993 my dad gave Gran a Buck Stockman. He was complete again. He used his new knife for 3 months and it was in his pocket the morning he passed away that following March. Putting his knife in his pocket was as routine as a pouring a cup of coffee and a kissing my grandmother on the cheek to start the day. My dad was given the new Stockman back after Gran passed away and while moving Gran’s old recliner (ironically the one he passed away in as well), we found his old Stockman. I guess it’s fitting that we have two Buck Stockman’s to remember him by, one for my father and one for me.

Ralph's grandfather's Buck Stockmans

That said I wear dress pants and suits most days of my life. Gran was dealt a much more friendly hand in life as he was able to farm most of his. He did not make a ton of money but he lived a rich life. The Stockman fit his life, three blades, large and robust. The Buck 505 Knight is slim and has but one blade. It fits well in dress pants and does not protrude out and become visible for the whole world to see. It is still very much a Buck. It holds an edge and has been very reliable. I thought I had lost it once but it was in the cushions of a friends sofa…a pattern emerged, knives like furniture.

Ralph and his dad's Buck 505 "Knights"

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

On Pocketknives: Ryan from A Gentleman's Journal

As an addendum to my original post on pocketknives, I've asked some others to share their own knives and the stories behind them.

First up is Ryan, who lives in Tennessee and writes the blog A Gentleman's Journal. If you haven't read A Gentleman's Journal already, be sure to take some time to peruse it. Ryan is a great writer and has some great thoughts on Southern society and, of course, being a gentleman.

Like Trip, I didn't grow up carrying a pocket knife. Which is odd since as long as I can remember, my dad and my grandfathers have never been without one: pocket knife, and handkerchief, always. I have since come around to both. My pocket knife was given to me in the fall of 2003, by my offensive line coach, Kip Cloninger. We were having a team meal at a steak house, the day before our senior homecoming game. Coach stood up and announced "Seniors, listen to me. The rest of y'all just shut up and eat. Y'all are men, and men ought to always have a knife. You can never know when you'll need it." He gave us each these black S&W Cuttin' Horse locking blades which all of us, in simpler times, carried everywhere for the rest of the year. Including school.

That knife has seen its more pristine days. Wherever it is now (much to my lament, I can't find it right now) it has a broken tip, little to no enamel left on the blade, the belt clip broke off so long ago that I can barely remember it ever having one, and the swing button fell off who knows when. But, as with books, I find that to be evidence of love. And love that knife I have, very nearly to death.

That knife has cut rope, dressed a rabbit, opened many a box, peeled apples, whittled (it's still whittling if you just shave a stick, right?), cut the foil off a few bottles of wine, spilled my poor thumb's blood, and loosened a few screws in its day. I have used it for everything. Maybe its disappearance is akin to a dog going off to die. Maybe I had utterly used it up, and it couldn't bear the thought of just falling apart in front of my eyes, so it just r-u-n-n-o-f-t, never to be seen again. Wherever it is, I hope it knows it's loved and missed.

Not to be without a knife, I asked my dad if he had an extra. He looked around for a bit and produced three options: a huge walnut handled hawk-bill (which, aside from its inherent bad-assery, is not very practical), a more traditional three-bladed wood-scaled Craftsman that he found while flipping a house, and his silver Kamp King from the 60's. I didn't want to go to prison for having a scimitar in my pocket or risk losing my dad's boyhood knife, so I chose the Craftsman. And we're getting along just fine so far.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

On Pocketknives

I've had this post in mind for years, literally. I'm not sure why I haven't gotten around to it before, but I finally did.

I didn't grow up carrying a pocketknife. In fact, it wasn't until 2008 that I decided to carry one. I was convinced by my friend Ralph, who, like his father, always carries one, so I went out and bought a dinky little Buck Solo model which I carried until I received a Buck 55 that Christmas. Since then, I have had that Buck in my pocket literally every day.

I like the Buck 55, which is the small version of the famous Buck 110. It's not the biggest, it's not the sharpest, it's not the fanciest, it's not the most expensive, but it suits my needs. I like the overall size and the size of the blade, the classic styling, the fact that it's a lockback, the practical blade shape, and the fact that, unlike a lot of Buck's products, it is still made in the USA. While I have grown attached to the one that I carry and hope that I never lose it, if it does ever become misplaced some day, the pain will be eased by the fact that another one can be purchased for around $30.

A few years ago I was up in DC visiting a friend and some of her friends seemed to be astounded by the fact that I carried a pocketknife. Now, these two girls are legitimate Yankees, so I guess it's somewhat understandable, but while I would never suggest that carrying a pocketknife is a habit only performed by Southerners, I do have a feeling that it is more common here in the South. Maybe that has something to do with our more agrarian roots, but who can really say? For me, carrying a pocketknife is now second nature, and I often panic when I think that I forgot my knife (turns out that it's usually in my pocket after all). I have used my Buck to remove tags, open boxes, open mail, open that damn plastic clamshell packaging, peel fruit, whittle sticks, and even breast-out ducks. Obviously a 2-3/8" blade wouldn't be great for self-defense, but there have been a few times when I've been a bit more peace of mind knowing that I at least had some sort of blade on me.

A few years ago I read a book called Supper of the Lamb (which the true A Trip Down South fan will recognize from my fourth post ever) by Robert Farrar Capon. It's probably on my Top Ten Favorite Books list (note: I do not have a literal list), but it's an amazing book that I think is best described as a combination cook book and theology book. Capon has some serious digressions throughout, including one about pocket knives. I've reproduced it below; it's a long passage, but I'd say it's worth the read, as is the entire book.

I grant you that I have overstated the case: Not all men have pocketknives. I was carried away by the force of my upbringing. I was raised, you see, in a tradition in which it was considered improper for a man to be without a knife on his person. (Seriously, I hound my sons to carry one, just as my father hounded me, and his father him, and so on, world without end.) My grandfather had a number of dicta, all of which were aimed at delineating how a gentleman should comport himself. One of them was: No gentleman should ever be without a pocketknife. You would have to have known him to appreciate the full paradoxicality of the statement. He had the most elegant manners of any man I ever met, but he was ready for anything--fish or cut bait, figuratively or literally--you take the full measure of the man: A gentleman should be able to prepare a light supper without removing his jacket. Obviously, you would have loved him.

Both my father and grandfather preferred what they (expectedly) called gentleman's knives: thin, graceful ones with pearl or gold handles. For myself, I have for years carried a large Swiss Army knife (the kind that has not only blades, but saws, scissors, screwdrivers, tweezers, a file, an auger, a can opener, and--again, expectedly--a corkscrew). In my father's eyes, such a knife, while admittedly fascinating and obviously useful, was gauche. It tried to be too many things at once (my father was a stickler for using only real tools, and for using them right)--and it was too bulky for a gentleman's pocket. I suppose it marks me as the degenerate son of a great house, but as long as I carry a knife at all, and keep it sharp, I hardly think my forebears will disown me.

I feel the day coming, though, when the pressure of my upbringing will force me to lay aside my portable Swiss workshop. They taught me too well. Deep in my subconscious lies the proposition: An old man without a thin, gold pocketknife is not a real old man. He is a man who missed his calling: no ancient priest of creation, but a superannuated acolyte who never earned the badge of his profession. My ownership of a gold knife, therefore, is only a matter of time. I could not think myself ripe without it.

What is true of my family, however, may not be true of yours. Many men are so taken up with the world of machines that they think it idle to carry a pocketknife. After all, you say, chocolate bars are scored to break easily, cigars are now manufactured with holes in their heads, and the post office efficiently breaks all package strings before they reach the addressee. Who needs a knife?

Your points are well taken. Let me direct your attention, however, to some factors you may have overlooked. First, while chocolate bars can be eaten without a knife, many of life's more satisfactory alfresco delicacies are intractable--even inaccessible--unless you have one. Candy never relieves the monotony of long family car trips half as well as an impromptu dispensation of sausages and cheese. Pepperoni, touristenwurst, landjaeger, cervelat, salami--name what you like--any of them, thrown whole into the back seat along with Daddy's pocketknife, will provide more wholesome diversion than chocolate ever could. If you children are contentious, of course, it will tend to bring out the worst in them. But then, with contentious children, so will anything else. At least it keeps them fighting with each other, and not with their parents.

Your two other points may be dealt with more briefly. For the first: Not all cigars have holes in their heads; until they do, no wise man should go through life (unless he has the elegantly sharp teeth and a miraculous bite) chomping the ends off expensive cigars. For the second: My only answer is that you have never received a package from me. What I tie up stays tied forever, unless you have a knife. You will sooner find a piece of postal clerk caught under my string than you will find the string missing form my package.

For the rest, however, let me simply ask you: How, without a pocketknife, do you pick a piece of privet blossom for a present to your second youngest daughter? How peel an orange to prove the goodness of creation? How amaze your friends with you ability to splice rope on a deserted beach? How open the clams you dig on an idle afternoon? (Even with a pocketknife, it isn't easy; but it is something a gentleman should practice till he masters.) And lastly, how is the race of men to survive boring lectures, conferences, and committee meetings without a knife with which to whittle away the time? We give fold watches when men retire. To keep them sane, we should give them gold pocketknives when they start out.

So much for the digression.
If you don't carry a pocketknife, I hope I've presented a compelling enough case to consider picking one up. They come in all shapes, sizes, and price ranges, so just find what works best for you. Also, be sure to leave it at home if you're heading to the airport...

As an addendum to my post, I've asked some others to share their owns knives and the stories behind them. Links to all of the posts are presented below.

Ryan from A Gentleman's Journal
Ralph Settle
Jay from Red Clay Soul
Henry Sanders
Joe Gannon
Greg from Manifold Destiny

Matt Summers