Appalachia COVID-19 Pap

One of Pap’s Knives Came Back to Us

The other day my older brother Steve came up on the porch and said “I’ve brought you one of your daddy’s knives.” I held out my hand and he handed me an old beat up pocket knife.

I said “Where in the world did you get that?” He said “Well its a strange story.”

Back in the 70s a local man, who would have been a young man in those days, decided he was going to start working on knives for folks. He went around and asked if anyone had a knife that needed fixing and Pap gave him the knife. Obviously the young man never fixed it.

I’m still not exactly clear on this part of the story, but another man in Pap’s church also gave knives to be worked on. Somewhere along the way he decided he’d get his knives back even if they weren’t fixed and he ended up with Pap’s too.

The Deer Hunter said the knife is an old Camillus. Steve said someone told him it was a German knife, but from the googling I did I think it is a Camillus.

As I held the knife I wondered how Pap broke both blades out of it—what he used it for.

Steve said “I’m telling you Daddy was hard on knives back then seemed like he was always breaking the blade out of one.”

The day he brought the knife up to me. Paul and I had just been talking about Pap, wondering what he’d have to say about COVID-19.

Paul said Granny asked him what he thought Pap would say about it. He told her he didn’t know but whatever it was it would have been interesting. A short time later Paul was talking to an old family friend on the phone and he said he’d like to have heard what Pap had to say about the virus because it would have been interesting.

I told Paul “Well I’ve been thinking about what he’d say too and wishing he was here to share his words of wisdom like he always did.”

I remember one time I was peppering Pap about some old timey thing and he said “Tipper I’m glad you’re interested in all this old stuff. If something ever happens you’ll at least know where to start and maybe you can help the rest of them.”

I hope this ain’t the something Pap was talking about.

If things ever get back to normal I think I’ll see if I can find someone to fix the knife.


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  • Reply
    Darrell Keith Cook
    April 14, 2020 at 1:41 pm

    Hi Tipper, Back in the 60’s I attended Town Creek school in Choestoe area of Union County Georgia. I was in first grade and a friend and I played the game where you face your opponent, and you throw your knife down close to your opponent’s foot without hitting him. The goal was to stretch out the other fella until he fell to the ground. We were in the middle of a game and our 1st grade teacher Ms. Goldie Collins exclaimed, “When you two get finished with that game I need a knife to peel my apple.”

  • Reply
    April 9, 2020 at 12:27 pm

    Its special to have something of your lost luve ones. Believe it or not, i have my dads 22 single shot rifle and my moms to. Long story behind that. Im so glad i have them. I wouldn’t take nothing for them.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    April 8, 2020 at 5:08 pm

    Being raised on a farm I never thought of my pocket knife as a weapon like security officers do at every public building, mine was a tool that I used almost every day for some chore. Like Ed the only person every cut with one of my knives was me. The quality of knives went downhill after 1964 when most of them started being made of Stainless Steel instead of High Carbon Solingen steel.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 8, 2020 at 1:21 pm

    If you could get what’s left of the blades open on that knife you might find out what kind it is for sure. Most good knives have the brand and model stamped on the tang. You might find OEM blades made to fit it. Camillus made knives for other outlets so there might be generic blades for it. The Deer Hunter could probably fix the knife himself if he has the right tools.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    April 8, 2020 at 1:19 pm

    Mr. Pantenburg made me think. He said his Dad carried his knife in his front left pocket. I had never really thought about it but I carried mine in my front right. And that made me wonder, do we use pocketknives with “handedness”? For the life of me I cannot say for myself. I THINK I use either hand but the left more. If so, why the right pocket? Now I am in trouble.

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      April 8, 2020 at 8:02 pm

      I am left handed and always carry my knife in my left front pocket. If you are ambidextrous it don’t matter. Some work pants have pockets for larger knives. All I have seen favor right handedness. Hammer loops are the same way. I bought a .357 magnum with a belt and holster a long time ago. The pistol had been carried by a policeman. The belt is wide and is punched (stamped?) with a braided looking pattern. A real nice one but I can’t use it. It is right handed. It’s a belt you might think. Yes, a belt works for both handed people but the holster is made for a right handed person. If I put it on my left side the gun is backward. If I try to turn it around the gun around it won’t stay in the holster. I don’t carry it anyway so it don’t matter.

  • Reply
    April 8, 2020 at 12:54 pm

    First off what a totally interesting post today, and also the responses. Yes, I think often what would my dad have thought of all that has went on. He was a quiet man who pondered almost everything. He left us just right before 911, and I remember thinking I was glad he did not see that tragedy in our America he fought so hard for. During the time when they had those “hanging chads” he said he had never seen America so divided. He also always carried a pocketknife, and his collection went to a grandson since mostly was disinterested girls. He was an orphan at 17, then went into WW11 shortly thereafter, so he learned to take al most everything in stride.

    This makes me remember the old “fire and brimstone” preachers who would use the events of the days to almost scare the congregation into repentance. They would forewarn of a doom to come if people didn’t get “right with the Lord. ” I even had a friend once who said he used to drink until he came staggering home and saw the Devil under a bush. He sobered immediately and never touched another drop. The preachers are quieter and more decisive now, and they never mention the T word like they once did. Tribulation! Now we cannot have the big revivals we once did, because we cannot congregate. I don’t think my Daddy would believe all this could happen, and he sure would have words of wisdom for all of us.

  • Reply
    Kat Swanson
    April 8, 2020 at 11:54 am

    My daddy loved his knives, carried one every day, wore some of them out, loved to buy and trade them. I had to make him leave his knife home as we left for the hospital where he died a week later of black lung. He gave knives to my 4 brothers but never to me, but he did teach me to use a little pen knife to sharpen my school pencils….told me my pencil would not be lasty if I used that pencil grinder at the schoolhouse. A few years after he died, mom gave me one of his little knives…it means the world to me.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    April 8, 2020 at 10:05 am

    When I first saw the knife I couldn’t come up with the whole name. I got as far as it’s a Cam something but never got the rest of the name. I’m convinced you’re right and it is a Camillus. Haven’t seen one in many years.
    On the Coronavirus. I’d like to see more people tested to see if they have already had the coronavirus. Many people thought they had the flu or some other virus, maybe it was covid-19. My Wife and I had some kind of virus about 3 weeks ago with many of the signs of coronavirus but after taking massive does of vit. c and she takes airborne which has zinc in it. We got to feeling better after 2 days. Makes me wonder about many aspects of this covid-19.

  • Reply
    April 8, 2020 at 9:40 am

    That is an amazing story. I think we always wish we could talk to those who have passed on because they truly were strong, resourceful people that had battled through sickness before antibiotics. I remember stories of our family living through the 1918 flu in TN, flooded farms in Arkansas, the 1936 Tornado in Tupelo, MS. It seems we always want to talk to that one that could convey wisdom in a calm manner. My Daddy always carried a Barlow knife and my Grampa carried one in his pocket. When I started doing genealogy before computers, I was just interested in how two branches of our family migrated on down to NE MS in a covered wagon with oxen, so I was asking a lot of questions to my parents. How I wish I had been wise enough in my teens to ask a lot of questions to my grandparents about their parents and grandparents.

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    April 8, 2020 at 9:04 am

    My dad, Ralph C. Byers, was in law enforcement all is working life. I have an old switchblade knife that I found in his belongings… has bloodstains on it. “Took it off an old drunk” he told me once. Probably late ’50’s. I also have a little pocket knife still in the original box that he gave me for graduation in 1960 from Union County High School here in Blairsville.

  • Reply
    April 8, 2020 at 9:01 am

    Like Pap said, you are probably helping the rest of them by staying healthy at home and not spreading the highly contagious virus. My daddy always carried pocket knives and used them for everything. I have seen the old-timers cut a chew of tobacco or whittle a stick and turn right around and use the same knife to cut themselves a chunk of bologna. It’s no telling how Pap broke the blade. If you get it fixed, the Deer Hunter will make good use of it.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    April 8, 2020 at 8:47 am

    Oh my, knives and country boys and girls, a wide field for remembering.

    My Dad was “hard on” knives to. (I’m a bit ashamed to say I am hard on tools myself.) He would say, “If I can’t use it, I don’t need it.” But in spite of that I cannot recall him ever breaking a blade though he must have. I, however, have broken two blades, each in a different pocket knife. I still remember vividly the where and the how and the why; once a lilac bush and once a privet. and I KNEW better than to torque a blade sideways, dad gum it. The very memory feels like a crime.

    i was my Mom’s executor some years ago and was in and out of the county courthouse back in my home county. I had not been in the courthouse in years and was astonished to have to pass a counter and go through a metal detector. I was expecting to empty my pockets and pass my stuff to a person and pick it up on the other side. But a grim-faced person picked up my pocketknife and said, “You can’t bring that in here.” Silly me, I asked, ” So what do I do with it? ” He stone-facedly said, “You’ll have to take it out.” Upsets me till yet. Ever now and then I get to thinking I have lived too long. I have carried a pocketknife nearly every day of my life for about 60 years and never cut nobody yet.

    Good luck with finding someone who will work on one. Time was one could get parts to rebuild a pocketknife; blades, backsprings, handles, rivets and spacers. Lord knows where they could be found now but I’ll bet it is possible. If you do find out please let us guys at least know because it would make us feel good just knowing.

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      April 8, 2020 at 1:09 pm

      The only person I ever cut with a pocket knife was me. As much as I use a knife it’ll probably happen again.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 8, 2020 at 7:44 am

    Tip, I don’t know exactly what Pap would have said but I think the essence of it would have been ‘tend to your own business and stay out of town’.

    This virus is scary stuff but it’s not the first time it’s happened and probably will not be the last. When the world gets out of kilter, as it has been in recent times, something happens to bring us back into balance. Nature just takes care of it. We’ll get through this.

    I miss Pap too. He could say a whole lot with a few words!

  • Reply
    Leon Pantenburg
    April 8, 2020 at 7:15 am

    Great story. My dad always carried a pocket knife. He wore knives out, in his jobs as an Iowa farmer and carpenter. A working man with a shop and tractor tool box, he was seldom far away for the correct tool for the job. If he needed some a specific tool for a job on the farm, he would generally send me to go get it.

    Dad’s most used knife was a smallish three-blade Stockman, and it was in his left front pocket at all times. Dad used his knife several times every day. When he needed a new one, he’d get a generic Stockman at the Tractor Supply store.

    I tried to get him a bigger knife once but he didn’t want one. The small Stockman did everything he needed a knife for, he said, and was easy to carry everywhere. A bigger knife would just wear out his pocket faster.

    On the day he died, Dad’s belt had a clip on it for carrying things. His pockets had some loose change, a wallet, keys, handkerchief and his well-used Sullivan Stockman. No way would I part with this knife.

    Here are several other knives that are not for sale:

    Keep up the good work!


  • Reply
    Sheila Lowery
    April 8, 2020 at 6:37 am

    I have a small pocket knife that was my Grandpa’s. He was born in January of 1900. He carried a pencil every day in his shirt pocket, I have the last one he had. It might be 3 inches long. Grandpa was a Baptist preacher and passed on in 1987. How I wish I would have been wise enough to have asked him so many things that I didn’t. I too, have wondered what he would have to say about our current situation especially since he had lived through the Spanish Influenza. I am beyond blessed to have known the fine man he was! It’s wonderful to have reminders with me in memories and small things that belonged to him! Stay safe and healthy!

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