Over the years, when I would get a new knife I would always bring it to him to show him, for his approval. His system was much simpler than mine--if it was good, it was a knife that was "handy as a whistle on a plow". If it was, um, not so good it was a knife that was "handy as a screen door on a submarine".
He loved the multibladed traditionals a lot. He had a nice collection of them, always sharp, always clean and lubed up, stored in a plastic Folger's can either under his bed or in a drawer in his dresser. He had a few non-traditionals--a Gerber Gator that someone gave him that he wisely never used, a Kershaw Chive I gave him for Christmas that he thought was too gadgety, but carried because it was from me, and that mid-1920s Queen Congress from his Dad. Eventually I got him a GEC knife with a good simple blade and a driver/cap lifter which better fit his style and was something he genuinely liked.
But it wasn't about the knives themselves, for me. It was about what he could do with them. He could whittle and carve. He could fix and repair. And in the end, it seemed like the simpler the tool the more he could get it to do. It was just amazing. This country boy from poor and rural Ohio, whose dad made moonshine to get them through the Depression, could make and fix just about anything because, when he was little they had to. Here was his childhood EDC:
He raised my mom and uncles and did a great job. He was a faithful husband for more than sixty years. And even in old age, he loved to go in to the woods with a knife in his pocket. I can't think of something I'd rather do, especially with him.
But Wednesday morning, after a tenacious battle with dementia, he is gone. Someday I hope I can be as good a man as he is, whether it was with his family, at work, or with a knife. He was honest, kind, patient and ornery and I will miss him.