For those who carry a pocketknife, it becomes not just a knife but an extension of their body.
If they are like me, venturing out without one in my pocket gives me a half-naked feeling and being wholly unprepared for what the day might offer.
That is why folks who cherish their pocketknives – I use the plural, because show me someone who carries one and I can virtually guarantee you they own several – invariably have fond recollections of their first knife.
For me, my father made it a point to see that his sons, and later his grandsons, received one at an early age. He also gave pocket knives as gifts for Christmas, birthdays or other special occasions.
Some of this came from a singularly sad moment in his own youth when he desperately wanted a knife, but his parents were so poor purchasing one was beyond their means.
But dad also felt that everyone who did anything with their hands – from gardening to woodworking, from fishing to piddling – needed a trusty, well-honed pocketknife.
My fondness for knives comes from another, equally meaningful, knife-related recollection. It focuses on an icon of the American knife industry and a member of the family which has been producing Buck knives for more than a century.
Roughly 30 years ago, when I started in writing about the outdoors, I was fortunate enough to win a couple of writing awards and decided to attend the annual conference of the organization sponsoring the contests.
A part of this event was a half day devoted to fleeing the seminar rooms and the confines of the host hotel to get outdoors.
Scores of folks from the industry’s corporate side displayed their latest and greatest products.
I remember introducing myself to a burly fellow with a big smile seemingly permanently etched on his face. His display banner read “Buck Knives.” I discovered I was talking to C. J. “Chuck” Buck, the man whose father and grandfather had formed the company which was an iconic name in the world of knives.
I told Chuck how my father was a great collector of pocketknives and that Buck happened to be one of his favorite brands. C.J. Buck then picked up a lovely little pocket knife from the display table and handed it to me. As I soon learned, this was a gracious gesture he extended to every newcomer to the organization’s annual conference. It is a tradition the company continues to practice.
Chuck’s explanation of his generosity was simple. “Every outdoor writer needs to have a quality, American-made pocketknife.”
I still own mine and it is as functional and appealing as it was decades ago.
Buck Knives has progressed appreciably in size and acclaim since that time. The quality, which has been the company’s byword, along with the dedication to their products being made in America, remain unchanged. This year, the company celebrates the golden anniversary of its best-known model, the model 110 Folding Hunter.
At the recent annual meeting of the Professional Outdoor Media Association , I talked with Bob George, Buck’s current director of sales and marketing. George told me about the 50th anniversary celebration of what is unquestionably the best known of all blades carrying their brand – their 110 knife.
I urge anyone who has ever owned a Buck knife – model 110 or otherwise – or collects them, or who is simply interested in a grassroots American success story to visit their website, www.buckknives.com.
You can read about the company’s rich history and register for prizes connected with the 50th anniversary of the model 110.
I also suspect that you will find yourself, like me, digging into drawers or storage areas to see whether you can find a trusty old Buck knife.
If you do, sharpen it and put it in your pocket. It will perform just like it did five years ago, 50 years ago, or dating back to Buck’s beginnings more than a century ago. Moreover, you’ll enjoy the additional satisfaction knowing you are carrying a piece of Americana.