“I came from a long line of “knife toters.” My Dad carried a pocket knife as did his dad and his dad before him. If they had their pants on, you could be sure they had their knives. So, I developed a love for pocket knives early on. So much so that when I started my business, the first product I ever designed and sold was a gentleman’s pocket knife. Since then, we’ve sold thousands of them. My story below about a young boy and his knife accompanies every knife that goes out the door at Col. Littleton.”
It was the summer of my ninth year. My father put me on the train early that morning. Even though low hanging clouds threatened rain, and a twinge of fear reminded me that I was taking my first train trip alone, nothing could dampen my enthusiasm. With nose pressed firmly against the window of the South Wind Express, I watched as the chug of the steam engine moved us past the houses, farms and fields that separated East Tennessee from West Tennessee. The conductor said we’d be there by sundown, and Mama’s “jelly biscuits” would last at least that long. It was the year 1952, and I was to spend the summer at Grandpa Littleton’s.
The train jolted to a stop, and there he was. In my mind’s eye I can see him, tall and proud, flannel shirt stuffed into baggy wool trousers to ward off the last vestiges of the late spring chill. His long handlebar mustache brushed my cheek, and I was drawn into that sweet smelling aroma that circled from his pipe as he lifted me off the steps at the station. He chuckled good-naturedly, as in my excitement I knocked his weathered hat from his head exposing a generous amount of snow-white hair. Any apprehension I had was put to rest as we walked hand-in-hand to the dusty old Ford truck that would take us to the country. It was to be the most memorable summer of my life.
The best days were Saturdays. Grandpa Littleton would start the old Ford truck, and we’d head for town. Just me, Grandpa and ole Red Dog. We’d spend the morning running Grandma’s errands. Then we’d join the group of men whittling away the hours in the summer shade of the courthouse lawn. It was here that the problems of the day were sorted out, politicians were put in their places, weather was forecast and tall tales were spun, disturbed only by an occasional nudge from ole Red Dog, cedar shavings mounting with the gathering shades of the late evening.
All too soon the summer was over and Grandpa Littleton took me back to the train station. Sensing my sadness as I climbed on board, with an awkward hug he slipped something into my hand as the train lurched forward. I watched him grow smaller in the distance. Then I looked down, and there it was, his favorite whittling knife.
Although my young mind could never quite fathom rhyme nor reason for the process of making little sticks out of big ones, the fascination of this peaceful pastime lingers with me. When times get tedious, somehow the comfortable feel of my grandfather’s knife in my pocket takes me back to a more unhurried time and a simpler way of sorting things out. That summer began my love affair with pocket knives. -Colonel
I’ve met folks from all parts of the world with great stories about pocket knives. It seems I’m not the only one who thinks they’re works of art that grow more valuable over time. If you ever start carrying one, you’ll wonder how you ever got by without it. Who’s to say that something useful can’t also be a thing of beauty with bone, mother-of-pearl or stag handles and special tooling? My personal collection contains almost every style you can imagine. Some folks like the old-fashioned no-frills knives and that’s okay, too. If your knife is personalized with your name or initials, that’s even better. What could be more special to pass down to future generations in your family?
It’s always my hope that our knife collection speaks to all kinds of people the world over, young and old, male or female, lifetime collector or a new generation of pocket knife enthusiasts. If there’s a meaningful knife in your life, or if you, too, have a love affair with pocket knives, we hope you’ll share your story with us here at The Great American Leather Company®.