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South Williamsport, PA
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The Roving Sportsman… Pocket Knives

It has been over a half a century since my Grandfather, Ira Martin Witt, passed away, yet I am happy to say that I still have to this day his favorite pocket knife. It rests securely within the walls of a safe, as I am fearful that if I carried it, it would join so

It has been over a half a century since my Grandfather, Ira Martin Witt, passed away, yet I am happy to say that I still have to this day his favorite pocket knife. It rests securely within the walls of a safe, as I am fearful that if I carried it, it would join so many others that I have lost somewhere throughout the years. It is a cheetah red bone handled single-bladed knife with a single blade, made by W. R. Case & Sons Cutlery Company of Bradford, PA.

It served my Grandfather well for decades and I have fond memories of his using it on numerous occasions. On the frequent trips back in the 1950s, when I would join him and his cronies for lunch at the Lycoming Hotel, I watched him carefully when he would trim the end of a fresh cigar before lighting it after lunch. In the early years of being introduced to fishing for trout in some of our mountain streams, I vividly remember watching him deftly slice open a trout or two, remove the entrails and then cook them over a wood fire along the streamside where we fished. Great memories!

It was a tool that he would never be without. I would venture to say that all of his fishing or hunting buddies felt the same way — you would simply never be caught without a pocket knife in your possession. For whittling a sharp point on a pencil or a sharp point on a long stick for roasting hot dogs or marshmallows over an open fire, for cutting the strings or ribbons on birthday or Christmas packages or for skinning and cleaning a rabbit or a pheasant — you simply had constant need for such an implement.

If only that knife could talk! What wonderful stories it could tell of simpler times, of a more relaxed, slower-paced life in rural Lycoming County and of the days when people seemed to be more focused on spending more hours every chance possible to enjoy our great outdoors!

Today, it gives me great satisfaction to carry that same style of knife, still made these days by W. R. Case & Sons. It has the same red boned handle and is the cheetah model with a single blade. It has served me well, as my Grandfather’s did him. I carry it constantly and wouldn’t be caught without it — except on the occasional flights to hunting or fishing destinations or family reunions. But you can bet that, even then, it is in my checked bag so I will not be without it upon reaching my destination.

I smile when I reflect back to the days of grade school and high school in Montoursville, when every young boy in class would have had a pocket knife in their possession. It would simply have been unheard of not to have one! If a teacher would need one, for whatever reason, every boy in the class could have supplied it.

My, oh my – how things have changed. And not for the better, I am afraid. Today, if a student were found to have a pocket knife in his possession on school property, the police would no doubt be called; he would be removed from the premises and certainly be suspended for a period of time. I will admit that many times, I long for those simpler days — when the 3 R’s that were taught were not just reading, writing and arithmetic, but also including the emphasis of the importance of responsibility, reliability and respect.

The pocket knife, simple as it is, remains a symbol of self-sufficiency. Being able to do things for yourself, not needing to count on others (or, Heaven forbid — the Government) to come to your aid for things. The pocket knife, simple as it is, embodies responsibility, reliability and respect. I hope you carry.

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    steven graham
    July 23, 2019, 11:42 pm

    hi jon, sounds like I have the same story,red bone,case single blade that I got from my grandfather, I also carried for small game, had the same fear about losing it,stilll have great story,

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