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"

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