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A scout knife, and a hot dog lunch.

Oct 2, 2004
When I was 10 years old there was a Army-Navy surplus store called Sunnys surplus, in Silver Spring Maryland. In those days, the the 1950s, it was real military surplus stuff, not imitation junk from some asian country. I had some money from my allowance and I had bought a U.S. GI all metal scout knife. It was'nt a bad knife, and I got some good use out of it. But when I joined the boy Scouts Of America, my Dad gave me a real "Official" scout knife with the emblam in the handle and all. It was a good carbon steel blade, and I took very great care of that knife. It was carried proundly after I got my tote-chip badge, and it was used well into my teen years. Even though it was still a treasured item it was put away in my sock drawer when something else replaced it. It was horded for some future use.

That use came when my youngest son joined the scouts. My first born son, John, did not have much of an interest in scouts, and my middle child was a tomboy girl who joined the girl scouts. Being daddys little girl Jessica had an interest in the outdoors that was matched only by my third child, Matt. Jessica got a official girl scout knife, and I gave Matt my old boy scout knife that my dad had given me. It was still in good shape having been stored more years that it was used, and Matt treasured it like I had.

Many years passed, and the kids grew up and got lives of thier own, and eventually made us grandparents. These days Matt is a county police officer, and is very buisy with shift work and his mom and I don't see him as much as we'd like to. Like all the kids, Matt grew up learning to shoot on my .22 like I did with my own father. I had bought a Ruger standard model in the mid 60's for 39.95, and when Matt was 12 he learned to shoot with it and my Marlin rifle. Of all my kids, Karen always said Matt was the most like me. Kind of quiet, vey practical minded.

It was a bit of a surprise when he called me recently, and wanted to know if I was going out to the range soon. Since I retired its been a twice a week thing for me to go out to the Izaak Walton League where I belong to spend a few hours burning up some Federal bulk pack rimfire ammo from the 'mart. I told him I was going out that day and he was welcome to come along. It had been a long time since we had gone shooting together, and since he had the day off, he went.

Kid are surprising. Sometimes you wonder at the way they turn out, and sometimes you're flattered when they end up imitating your actions. When we got to the range I took out the old Ruger I bought fourty years ago. It was still in good shape, with a bright bore and chamber, even if looking a bit worn in the blue dept. I had not shot it for a few years as I had been working with a Smith and Wesson 617 ten shot revolver. But out of nostalgia I had been using it again, and with my son coming along I took it out of semi-retirement. At the shooting bench, Matt took out a familiar looking gun and grinned at my surprise. Back when he was just leagal age to buy a handgun, he had bought a Ruger like mine. The old standard model by that time had given way to the MK1, then the MK2. Matt had bought a MK2 with the same configuration of barrel and sights as my old gun, but in stainless. I expressed surprise that he still had it, and he told me he'd never get rid of it as it was his favortie gun to shoot.

We had a good couple of hours of shooting, both at targets and plinking at some clay birds set out on the dirt berm. The game was not breaking the birds, that was the easy part, but "cleaning up the pieces". I'd like to say I held my own, but I'd be lying. Young 27 year old eyes took the day when the pieces got down to quarter size, and in my defeat felt pride that he was so good. Defeat was further sweetend when he told me he had a good teacher.

The afternoon had worn on and we both felt a need for lunch. I suggested the sandwich shop in Damascus, but Matt said no, it did'nt apeal to him. I suggested a pizza and a beer, but again he said it did'nt apeal to him. He had a strange smile and said he wanted to have some hot dogs, but not just any hot dogs. He asked me to go with him and get some dogs and roast them over a fire like we used to. I looked at him for a unbellieving moment, and asked him if he was serious. He got that grin again and said "Lets do it!"

So off we went to a convience store up the road and bought a package of all beef ballpark franks, grabbed a couple of packets of mustard and drove back to the club. There's woods all around the property and we walked off to find a nice clearing with some weak winter sunshine beaming in. Gathering up some twigs and small stuff we got a little campfire going and set about making a couple of hot dog forks. Its an art to find just the right size forked branch and then sharpen the prongs just right. We sat down on oposite sides of our little twig fire, and then I saw what was in his hand.

Matt was sharpening the prongs of his dog fork with a strangely familiar looking knife. The worn spearpoint blade was a medium grey, and there was an insignia molded into the brown delrin handles. Matt could'nt help but notice my open mouth astonished stare, and with another of those grins he handed over my old scout knife. The 15 years had put some more wear on the knife, but it was still in fair shape given the fact that my dad had presented me with that knife on a Christmas 53 years before. There must have been some smoke from the fire or something, as my eyes blured a little and I needed to blink a few times. I expressed a large amount of surprise that he still carried that old scout knife.

"It has alot of sentimental value, my dad gave it to me" was all he said, looking at me with those grey eyes that reminded me of my father's.

So there we sat, two grown men roasting hot dogs on a stick over a fire on a mild winter day, with silly grins on our faces. We did'nt say much, just enjoyed a companionable quiet while we made sure the dogs were well blistered over the coals. It was one of the best lunches I can remember.
A beautiful post, Mr Jackknife. My next-door neighbour must be burning
trash or something 'cos my eyes are playing up too. You write so well. :)
Got to love the memories. :)

I'm a sentimental guy, I guess. I can sit down with an old knife, and wonder. Just what has this old Rem seen? Where's it been? How'd it get here?

That's what collecting is all about, to make memories for the next generation.
Jackknife, You have a rare gift. Thank you for sharing it with us.
I can honestly say that your posts are one of the main reasons that I visit the forums. Keep 'em coming Jackknife.
Sometimes I think we are greedy, but I for one can't get anough of your stories. I can't help but wonder since I am a young dad...will it be the same with my boys and me? I can only pray yes.
I pray all the time I will grow up to be half the man my father and great grandfather is/was. Those are awfully big shoes to fill so that is a scary thought.

I also pray my son will grow to be the man we expect him to be. I am put at ease slightly since he is headed down the right path.

These expectations are what make children with a great deal of potential grow up to be contributors to our society, and not just oxygen pirates.

Your son sounds like a great man. Keep up the good work. :thumbup:

Thanks for the great story. :D
When I was 10 years old there was a Army-Navy surplus store called Sunnys surplus, in Silver Spring Maryland

Sunny's is still very much in business, and they have a chain of stores in Delaware and Maryland. They sell a lot of fancy outdoors gear, but they also stock a bit of military surplus gear, and still have pretty reasonable prices.

Here's a picture of my Sunny's discount card and the 2 German Surplus pocket knives I bought there this Summer, for $10 each. One is Aitor (Spanish made), the other is Victorinox.

Sometimes I think we are greedy, but I for one can't get anough of your stories. I can't help but wonder since I am a young dad...will it be the same with my boys and me? I can only pray yes.

Hey Irish,

I have a private theroy. I don't know if I'm right, I'm not the brightest bulb in the chandalier, but it worked for me.

I have a feeling that most kids are basicly the same. If you take the time early on to get that kid out of the house on a saturday morning, I don't care what else is going on, and spend some time with them out in the woods, going canoeing on a quiet lake, fishing, and even shooting as they get older and can handle the responsibility, they will turn out okay. When that kid, who has been exposed to the outdoors, and all the fun assosiated with, runs into the other kid who has some video games that they think is cool, your kid is going to be bored at being indoors. I think the kids who hang out in front of the TV with the videos are kids who have parents that don't do anything with them.

I know that with John, Jessica, and Matt, I ALWAYS made time to go out with them. I don't care what game was on, who was playing who, my kids came first. I saw first hand the results. For a long time it was a thing we had, if there was spare time, we went into the woods in back of the house with the old Crossman 760 to plink. Later I let them use my Webley tempast air pistol. When the kids got to be responcible enough I bought them thier own air rifles. They loved going into the woods to shoot, whittle, and at least once durring the weekend for lunch we would walk back to the stones we had set up, built a little fire and roasted hot dogs. It became sort of a Saturday morning tradition when they were small. They loved it. Early on I had purchased a canoe, an Old Town Tripper, and took the kids out on nice weekends. They loved that too. It came to pass that unless it was pouring down rain or just freezing cold, they got bored being inside. When the weather was bad and they started getting a little bored, I would call for a pocket knife check. Pretending to be a little disappointed in the edges I found, we would have a honing session. Newspaper would be spread on the table, the washita stones and oil came out and the kids practiced sharpening thier scout knives. It was very surprising how adept they got at putting a really sharp edge on those knives. What kid is going to get bored messing with pocket knives? When the knives were done, there was .22 rifles to give a check over and light cleaning. Or hiking staves to be sanded and stained.

Then came the day some new nieghbors moved in. They had two kids close to Jessica and Matt's age. Both parents were very self absorbed, worked alot, and the kids were supplied with all the latest video games to keep them occupied. When Matt went over there the kids, who never knew better, just wanted to play video games. Matt got bored and left. I guess the kids were lonely, they invited Matt back, but instead Matt invited them over our place and showed them his air gun and pocket knife. The video game kids were facinated with the air gun and wanted to shoot it. I told them to get parental permision and they could join us on a Saturday morning outing. Thes father called and said it was okay.

Came the fatefull Saturday we all went out and I tought the kid about sight picture, breath control, and trigger sqeeze. One did just so-so as he was not used to listening to grownups. Then he noticed Jess was shooting and hitting everthing. Jess started giving him some coaching, and I guess a 13 year old boy would rather listen to a 13 year old girl, especially when she looks at him with big blue eyes and tells him that shooting is something that she really just Loves to do. I guess he found an incentive because he started paying alot more attention to the holy trinity, and his shooting improved immediatly.

Before long, that kid was pushing his parents for an air rifle, and he lost all interest in the video games. It became a thing for him to rush home for school to join Matt for a plinking session in the woods before homework and dinner.

I could never do alot for my kids, like afford a fancy private school, or the high dollar clothes. But we could afford to spend alot of time with them. No matter how bad I could have used the money, and I really could have used it, I would never work overtime on weekends. Weekends were for taking my kids out for an adventure, woods walks, shooting, paddling the canoe, going to the Washington Zoo, going camping with the scouts, something!!! I could never understand why bring a child into this world, and then not care enough to spend time with this little person you created? Besides, your kid is your best friend sometimes. Being a big kid myself, I found in my kids some neat people, with who I could share my love of pocket knives and guns and the outdoors. Or well blistered hot dogs with plain yellow mustard.

So Irish, spend the time with them, and teach them what you love. You may well be very surprised that they will love the same things. The pups often look to the old dog for what to do.
Thanks for the beautiful stories Jackknife, simply beautiful. My fiance and I are seriously thinking of trying to have a kid after we get married this summer. I was brought up by my Dad (who I might add was a little of an old fashion guy) in a similar fashion, he worked long hours but when he got time off we would go fishing, whittling and such, now I stop by when I'm not working and take him out to the lake for a little fishing, just to return the favor. When I was young we didn't have a VCR, cable, or video games. I played in the woods, made knives out of old files on Dad's grinder, went fishing and rode around to my friends on my bike to shoot airguns. I wouldn't trade my childhood for anything, it was handsdown the best time of my life. I only hope I can pass it on the my kids. Funny thing is, my Dad never spanked me or anything, I respected him enough to not disobey him.
Nice story Jackknife. My first really good knife was a Case scout pattern my Dad gave me when I was 10. I still like scouts, have a small collection of them, EDC one today in rotation with a SAK.
I never knew my grandfathers ,they were both gone when i came along,what I had instead was a neighbor an old man named Mr Claussen.Didn't know his first namebut he was Mr Claussen.Must"ve been75 or 80 when i started asking him to help me do things.Make a slingshot,shoot my 22putbthe chain back on my bike.very wise man that Mr Claussen.Could shoot too.We lived in a rural area and just had to walk out to the back of the place to do some plinking.i sent quite a bit of time with that old manTaught me well.he knew everything.I had a wart 0on the back of my handbetween the knuckles.Was always bleeding from barking it on something and it was an ugly thing.Asked him what to do with it and he looked down at me and said,"when you first wake up in the morning,lick it and let the saliva dry.Well sounded kind of strange but what did I have to lose.Don't know exactly how long it took but at some point the wart disappeared.Every time I look at my right hand I think of that old man,and shed a tearAnd there is not any sign of a wartSometime i'll share a tale about making a slingshot and shooting with Mr Claussen.
Sorry if i'm out of place with this,but the good ole days were the good ol days.
jackknife you should be published.
Mr Claussen carried a Case copperhead.Funny thing I collect Case copperheads
Thanks for the advice above Jack Knife....I really will put it to use....I like your perspective on things.
Jackknife, I enjoy your posts both here and at KF. These stories are really nice, although we come from totally different backgrounds, age groups (I'm 24) and countries there is something in that old time feel of your stories that takes me back to very happy times and reminds me of those followers of the "old ways" that made an impression in my life.

They make me think about all the honest, hard working, country folks that I've been lucky enough to work with through the years.