Ramble with Storm: Jackknives

Mulling things on my morning ramble

with Storm, the family’s mixed Lab.

Yesterday at a church picnic, I listened in while some older people were talking about the playground equipment of their earlier years and it reminded me of my own.

My elementary school, which consolidated a bunch of one-room schools, opened two years before I began attending first grade. I love telling my kids I only missed attending a one-room school house by one year.

At that elementary school, one of our favorite activities at recess was playing a game with jackknives, those basic two-bladed knives all country boys had by very early years.

The game was played by those of us playing sitting in a circle and taking turns flipping our jackknife, often the proudest possession of our young lives. Let that sink in a few minutes, first and second graders sitting in a circle flipping pocket knives.

Times do change.

Squirrels are on the fall feeding frenzy. Dozens ran around in town and around the town pond. The meathead went into his own frenzy trying to catch them, though sometimes he was held in a confused state when two of the young split and went up separate trees.

If my memory is right, scoring was 100 points for sticking the knife up on the small blade (which was perpendicular to the main blade and body of the knife), 75 for sticking the large blade, 50 for sticking on a stand with both blades and 25 for flipping the knife on its back.

If somebody remembers the scoring better, please let me know.

A couple weeks ago, our youngest, the 7-year-old, asked for his own pocket knife. And I told him and his two young running mates the story of when I was their age sitting around at recess playing games with knives.

The three young boys sat there listening with their mouths open. Actually, thinking about it, I understand why. It is hard to comprehend school kids playing a game with knives.

Not that I am recommending a return to those days, just how different it was.

No ducks on the town pond, no Canada geese. But a pair of rabbits sprinted out of the brush below the old converted rail bed, spotted us ; turned, then sprinted back in. No doves on the edge of the town or around the town pond; but back in town, I counted four of them.

It was time, a different time.

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