I recently came into possession of a priceless tool.
My Aunt Barbara brought a box of Granddad's old pocket knives to a holiday family gathering, to let us each find a keepsake. I carefully scoured the contents, searching not for the biggest one, or the most expensive one, or the newest one, or even one I wanted to use. I was specifically looking for one which I remembered seeing at work in his hands. Found it!
I watched my Granddad use this knife for a wide array of purposes:
- Cut an apple in two and share it with me.
- Dig a splinter out of his finger, or mine.
- Scrape crud off the piston ring of an engine we were trying to repair.
- Slice a piece of cheese for me to snack on while working together.
- Pry the lid off a beer bottle (before twist tops existed).
- Clean a mess of catfish we caught while trotlining.
- Whittle a whistle for me from a piece of willow branch.
- Dress a deer I killed early one morning.
- Hack open the lid of a can of ranch style beans.
- Cut the rattlers off a rattlesnake we "encountered" out in the pasture.
- I could keep going...
As often as not, the "cleaning" of his knife amounted to wiping it on his pant leg before putting it back in his pocket.
I learned a lot of things from Turney Casey. One of them is that the skill and intent of the tool handler greatly exceeds the monetary value of the tool.
As with most of his lessons, he taught it without overt explanation, knowing that the understanding would come in its own time.