Every Southerner, it seems, owns a pocket knife and yes, I carry a pocket knife with me where ever I go (except to the Airport, I've had to throw out two good pocket knives right there at the TSA Pat-Down Area and I'm not going to do it again!) A pocket knife is always good to have in my line of work. It's good for opening boxes, or tightening screws on the back of computers.
Most Southerners keep a pocket knife around for one of two reasons. The first is cleaning the gunk out from under their fingernails, and the second is whittling. When you drive into a small town, into the town square you'll always see a group of guys sitting outside the general store either whittling or a chewing a few ears with stories of yore. (Yes, yore. Stories of yore is what we all go to small towns for, right?) What most Southerners carry is what is referred to as a "Pen Knife," which, oddly, is not for the carving of pens. Go figure. (A Pen Knife is usually defined as a knife with only one blade which folds into the handle. It does not mean it has a pen built in - but it gets its name from the fact that originally, pen knives were used to cut and adjust the point on a quill pen. I am nothing if not well informed!)
So, anyway, I've been looking for the quintessential pocket knife for some time and the collection you see above is mine, even missing a few. I seem to find pocket knives in every drawer when I'm looking for something else. I've had my friends and family give me pocket knives and most ended up being tossed in a drawer (not counting the two that ended up in the trash just outside the TSA pat-down area at the Nashville Airport.) I'd carry them for a while only to find some reason that they didn't really work for me and then I'd stash them someplace for 'later use' which, of course, never came.
Then I came upon a nifty utilitarian pocket knife in a dollar bin in a local craft store. I loved that knife. It had a couple of blades, a flat screwdriver and Phillips, nail file, an awl, can opener, bottle opener and even a pair of tweezers and toothpick -and a cork screw. Yes, a corkscrew. It was a copy of a Victorinox pocket knife (you know, the old 'Swiss Army Knife?') and it did everything I needed, except of course, keep a sharp edge. I had to sharpen it almost daily. I nearly wore out one sharpening stone. Then, one day, I lost it. (No, it's not one of those at the airport, I lost it on the bus - I think.)
I hoped to find another, so I haunted the dollar bins in the store where I originally found it, but to no avail. I had to go without for several months. I felt almost naked with no pocket knife in my Southern Pocket. Then, my lovely wife gave me the perfect gift. The REAL Victorinox pocket knife - even better than the one I lost!
It has two blades, a file, a saw, fish hook extractor and scale remover (really? for work?) scissors, several flat screwdrivers and Phillips, nail file, an awl, can opener, bottle opener and even a pair of tweezers and toothpick. It's got a magnifying glass, a corkscrew and then it also has a couple of things I have no idea what they are for, and a little bitty pen (blue ink...I have no idea where I would go for a refill, but it's neat to have.) Oh and it holds an edge for weeks! I carry it everywhere and I check for it before I get off the bus too.
I may not yet be a good old boy, but I do have a pocket knife. But I don't know how to whittle.
More's the pity.