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Thread: A TL-29, A strange history.

  1. #1
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    A TL-29, A strange history.


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    Being uprooted from my childhood down on the eastern shore when dad came home from the war made for some interesting changes. Looking back I realize I had a upbringing that spanned both rural and urban, then suburban lifestyles. By in 1949 I found myself living with my family in some apartments on the very northern fringes of Washington D.C. They were not bad apartments, three story red brick garden style with nicely landscaped grounds. It was',t the marshes, but I made the best of it.

    Even at that young an age I was hopelessly in love with pocket knives. All kinds of pocket knives. And the one thing I found out early in my transplanted life was where there was more people, there was more kinds of knives. Like Carter's.

    Carter was the grounds keeper, janitor, maintanece man, and general watchdog of the compound. He was a medium size black man indeterminate of age, but there was some silver in his hair. There was a black iron fence running around the property, and to Carter, all the tree shaded, hedged and green stretches inside that iron fence were his domain. In nice weather he could be found outside trimming a bush, mowing the lawn, fixing a light on one of the lamposts lining the sidewalks in between the tree buildings. And I was facinated by Carters knives.

    One of the knives he carried and used alot was a very large hawkbill. When he was on one of his inspection walks with a pencil and piece of paper making notes on what need doing, he'd use the hawkbill on targets of opportunity. A stray piece of ivy here, a outward poking piece of trimed hedge. No sargent major ever had his charges so neat as the shrubbery maintained by Carter. That the hawkbill was sharp was proved by the gentle flick Carter would give to the offeding branch and it would flutter to the ground. He once let me look at his knife. I felt very privledged, and he gravely handed it too me and told me be very carefull as it was very sharp. It felt heavy in my small childs hand, and it seamed like the great huge curving blade was medevil in proportion. Gently I felt the edge and I could feel the razor sharp steel do the little grabby thing where it just catches the skin like its eager to bite. I asked Carter how he sharpened it and he showed me the round stone the diameter of a finger that he kept in the pocket of the bib overalls he allways wore. Carter knew how to sharpen a knife, he did!

    But it seemed like he was a wizzard with a TL-29. In those years just after the war, it seemed like there was an unlimited supply of military surplus pocket knives. The Army-Navy store walking distance from our apartments had bins of knives. Steel handled scout knives were 75 cents, as were the TL-29's, and some three blades stockmen with brown plastic handles marked "U.S. Government" on the main clip blade. It seemed like everyone in those days had a TL-29.

    When Carter would get a compaint that a light was out, or something was'nt working, he'd come to take a look to see what tools he's need. More often as not, He's fish out his knife and a roll of electrical tape he had in a overall pocket and fix a loose wire or connection.

    But the real genious with a TL-29 I remember was Glen Brisco.

    The Brisco's lived downstairs and had a son Butch who was my age and we became fast friends. His dad Glen, was a TV repairman and had been an elecrition in the Navy durring the war. When we moved in and he saw our name on the mailbox he came up and introduced himself as a fellow Irishman. He was always tinkering in a shop in his backroom and could come up with some really neat things. One of which led to a big mis-adventure.

    About this time I should tell you about our landlord, A Mr. Morris Marshak. A nastier human being never existed, nor one more hated by his tennents. True he kept the place very nice, but he had a most objectionable personality. He hated children, and would be most rude to the kids playing. But most of all, he had a clause in his rental agreement in microscopic print, that allowed him to inspect the apartment at any time. Of course this led to his tennets moving out, like my dad buying a house out in Maryland. But I digress.

    What lit the fuse to this incident was Marshak springing a surprise inspection while dad was away on one of his trips, and mom was in the shower. Adding to the outrage was that upon catching my mom in nothing but a towel, Marshak had the disgusting gall to tell her as he oggled her, that he's going to have to drop by more often. Dad went about his revenge.

    For weeks afterward, I noticed dad and Glen tinkering in Glens shop and hunched over some project that was top secret. Once in a while they would go over to the park across the street and take up a position opposite from Mr. Marshaks building where he had a penthouse apartment, and a garage on the ground level with a remote control door. Marshak was very proud of the remote control door as he was his new 1949 Cadilac convertable. On a nice summer evening he would drive up and stop in front of the door and flourish his remote and grin as the door rose, then drive his beloved caddy in. It was the first remote garage door anyone there had seen.

    Well, after weeks of labor dad and Glen seemed very cheerfull, and they took the secret device out to the park to test. Butch and I were alowed to tag along as cover. Glen sat a cardboard box on his lap as he sat on the bench opposite the Marshak garage and tinkered with something in the box. It was a mass of tubes and switches and batteries. This was before transistors and printed circuts. Glen tinkered away and he took out his TL-29 and kept adjusting screws and fiddling. Then it happened.

    With rumbling and clanking the garage door of Marshaks began to open. Glen moved a switch and it closed. He and my dad were both giggling like they had discovered the password to Ali Babba's cave. Then Marshk came home. Disaster was around the corner.

    Stopping in front of his garage, and with his usual flourish for any watchers he hit the open switch and his door began to rise. Glen hit a button in his device and the door began to close. This anged Marshak and again he hit the open switch while jabbing the device in his hand at the door. Again it began to rise and again Glen pushed a button in his gizmo and again the door fell. We could hear Marshak cursing "Now What the hell is wrong with the dammed thing".

    Again this senerio played out and Marshaks well known temper set the stage for the following. Once more at the end of his short patientence, Marshak hit the open button and as the door rose he gassed the caddy to dart under the door before it could come down again. The problem was he did this as Glen hit the down button on his device and the do-do hit the air circulation device.

    Mashak tried to dart in under the downward closing door, but the windshield cought the bottom edge of the decending door pulling it off its mountings, and the door totally collasped on the caddy. For a forzen moment in time there was dead silence. Glen, dad, Butch, and me were in shock. Then in the quiet summer evening we could hear Marshak screaming in rage, "What the f--k is going on here!".

    Glen and dad were a study of casual behavior as Glen closed up his box, and we all tried to suanter out of the park in a normal mannor. Over the following days it got all over the complex what happened to Morris Marshak, and to nobodys surprise there was not alot of sympathy. The general feeling was that it could not happen to a more deserving fellow!

    Glen dismantled his device, and me and Butch were sworn to a blood oath by dad and Glen, to eternal silence on pain of slow death from former Japanese POW camp guards. Time passed and life went on, but whenever I see a TL-29, I just can't help but smile at the memory of a Mr. Morris Marshak in his caddy under a garage door.

    I suppose thats awfull of me.

  2. #2
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    Don't worry, I won't tell a soul!!!

    Haw haw haw!!!

  3. #3
    Give nasty out, get nasty back! Karma, baby, karma!

    Great story, Jackknife!

  4. #4
    Another great story, and one that really hits close to home. My father died in 1977 when I was 9, in 2 days on the 24th it will be 30 years exactly since he passed away.

    In his life he served both as a Radio Teletype Tech. in the Air Force in the 1950's and worked 20+ years for GTE starting as a lineman. Not sure when and where he aquired it, but this was his TL-29.



    Thanks for the memories jackknife!

  5. #5
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    Hey there TLC,

    Love the pic. I have no proof, but I have a hunch that more of those TL-29's came out of that war than any other kind of knife. In the years afterward, I think I saw about every other man around with one of those. Your dad had good taste in usefull pocket knives.

  6. #6
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    The TL-29 was just about the most usefull pocket knife I have ever had. They issued them to us in the Navy and when I left the service 30 years ago I brought 3 of them with me.

    In the years since then I have managed to lose 2 of the 3, but I still have one and it is still a great little tool.

    Thanks for the story. It brings back a lot of memories.

  7. #7
    Thanks for the memories, I used one playing 36Golf


    now I have to go find mine, I haven't seen it in years, I think I know where to start looking, I think..................
    ..


    Proud Member, Right-Trough Conspiracy

  8. #8
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    Great story, but I have to say I've never even seen a TL-29 before. Maybe I should get one!

  9. #9
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    Hey Rich, treat us to a picture!! We/you may never see it again (just kidding)!

  10. #10
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    You know? I've got a Case Electrician's knife (CA127/62031) that's very similar to the TL-29 pictured, though it has a hawkbill blade instead of the spearpoint. Delrin handles, bail, single bolster, the whole bit. Always liked the look and function of this simple little thing, and it was one of the first I bought when I decided to start building up a collection. Not a very auspicious start, at least cost- or beauty-wise, but I find this to be an incredibly useful little knife.

    -- Sam

  11. #11
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    Hi Sam, how about a picture?? Love to see it!

  12. #12
    Sam, I picked up one of those Cases like that not to long back. I was impressed. It has great walk and talk, complete with half-stops, great fit and finish, and came sharp. Not bad at all for under $20 (off ebay). A good, American working knife for a Chi-made price.

    Jackknife, that story was great. I shared it with my wife and she just howled! She felt it was a job well done.

  13. #13
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    As my Grandma Gaty used to say, " You had us in stiches with that story!. " Thanks jacknife, you the man for that one..

    Below is marked Imperial not Camillus:



    Does the above knife resmble the TL-29?
    Last edited by sunnyd; 01-23-2007 at 12:11 AM. Reason: adding a photin the hopes to help ID said TL-29

  14. #14
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    No resemblin' there, Sunny. That there is a TL29, just in civvies.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sword and Shield View Post
    No resemblin' there, Sunny. That there is a TL29, just in civvies.
    OK, Thanx S&S. I do not believe I have never seen a real one but sure would like to!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by waynorth View Post
    Hey Rich, treat us to a picture!! We/you may never see it again (just kidding)!
    I would be happy to provide a picture, just as soon as I get a digital camera. That will happen just as soon as I quit buying knives for a while and free up some funds for it.

  17. #17
    Just for the record, you guys now them better than I do, but "TL-29" was not any one companies model name was it, but was used for knives from many different makers right?

  18. #18
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    Yes. I have seen them from Camillus, Imperial, Colonial, PAL, and Ulster. There may be more, but that is the makers I have seen. The TL-29 was I can guess, some sort of military stock code. I've also seen asian copies.

    Just like the all metal scout knife the military issued was made by Camillus, but I have seen some by Imperial.

  19. #19
    Thanks jackknife!

  20. #20
    Codger started a thread on the Schrade forum and some other good folks added more good info on the "Electrician's Knife." Here's the link: http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/sh...ighlight=tl-29

    A great read, btw.

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