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.

1 comment:

Dylana Suarez said...

Super lovely blog!