Official Cub Scout pocket knives

Published 6:34 pm Tuesday, August 22, 2017

short rows

I first wrote a Short Rows about pocket knives back in 2000, and noted back then that the once-ubiquitous pocket knife is, these days, considered a dangerous weapon. Nevertheless, swimming upstream seems to be my lot in life, so I have now given an official Cub Scout pocket knife to grandson Number Three, John Haakon. Parker and Bentley, both of whom are now Boy Scouts, received their blue-cased Cub Scout knives from me some years ago. I’m confident they have much more effective knives by now.

And before someone gets the impression that I’m a chauvinist grandfather, let me assure you that if and when Maddie and Ellie become involved with scouting, there are Girl Scout versions of the pocket knife and I stand ready to present each of them with one.

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I’m not foolishly ignorant of the risks associated with knives in young hands, mind you. Each of the three knives have been given to boy and parent together with the understanding that the parent decides when they are to be considered responsible enough to carry a knife. Until then, it is to be kept with the parent when not in use.

And, yes, they and their parents are painfully aware that if someone forgets and takes a Scout knife to school, well, it could ben an absolute family disaster. It can lead to suspension, expulsion and, who knows, maybe even juvenile detention, in our strange and even strangled view of what a safe children’s environment requires.

(Back when we all carried them, we even played with them during recess. Remember mumble-peg, where sticking pocket knives in the ground was the object?)

But it’s not just the kids who have to be conscious of where they’re going armed with a pocket knife. I forgot and left one in my pocket as I went through an airport check-in line a few years ago. It was a really nice Case two-blade penknife and I’m confident that whoever found it in the five-gallon bucket receptacle that evening has enjoyed it immensely.

And do not attempt to enter a courthouse today with one in your pocket. You will be considered a significant threat to society.

Back in the days of our youth, though, it was almost considered negligence to not be carrying a folding pocket knife. It was a tool that went everywhere with us and, for me, has been a lifelong companion. It would — and still will — pick a splinter out of your finger, cut a piece of twine, open a taped box and even slice through those modern, plastic bags that your prescription drugs come in.

Got a new shirt with a tag held in place by a plastic strip? Cut it with a pocket knife. And the back side of a pocket knife blade can open battery cases and back out screws if they aren’t too tight. Times have surely changed, but a good pocket knife is as useful today as it was decades ago. I just hope none of the grandsons forget to leave it at home when they head to school.