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Worn smooth

Things worn down because they spend time in pockets are fascinating.

Brent Murphree, Senior Editor, Delta Farm Press

February 12, 2021

3 Min Read
Knife 2.jpg
Grandpa's knife was usually spotless, albeit worn. I don't know why it was covered with grime the last time he put it away.Brent Murphree

A while back, Ron Smith wrote a commentary on pocketknives. I so related to it that I immediately went to the cigar box where I keep all my pocketknives to see what I had in there.

I went first to the one with the most sentimental value.

It just looks old and one blade is broken off completely. The blade that is not broken has been sharpened so many times that it is noticeably worn and much thinner than it once was.

The handle is made of bone. It is worn and one side is cracked.

I found it in an old jewelry box of my grandfather's. My grandmother gave me the box after he had passed away when I was 17. It also contained some cufflinks, a few old coins, pins and a broken ring with a fake turquoise stone, but nothing as worn as the knife.

It was always spotless, but I noticed how dirty it was when I found it. It had been that way since the last time he put it in his jewelry case. I don't know why and I refuse to clean it.

I wonder how many times my grandfather picked it up in the morning and put it in his pocket. He always had a knife on him and used it often to cut a piece of rope, dig out a splinter, open the mail or tighten a screw on his glasses.

Those well-worn, pocket things are fascinating. They probably don't have much intrinsic value, but they are really a part of the person that carries them.

Once my Dad found a piece of almost clear quartz on a ditch bank. It was stream worn, rounded and about an inch and a half in diameter – the perfect pocket size. As far as I know he still keeps it in his pocket. Over the years I noticed that it became smoother and shinier.

I love it when someone, usually a farmer, digs into his pocket and sorts through a handful of stuff to find a nut he put in there so he didn't lose it. All that other stuff. It's usually shiny from pocket wear.

I know someone who always carries a well-worn Leatherman tool. I've seen him fix everything from a tractor to a woman's hair accessory with it. I have always wanted to look at it to see if the lettering has worn away or if the edges of the outside have been worn round, but it seems so personal that I can't.

I've never carried anything consistently enough to have an old, worn down knife or piece of quartz. However, I picked up a cocoa bean one day at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and carried it in my pocket for years. In the beginning it was craggy, dark and smelled so good.

Soon the crags became smooth, but the smell remained for a very long time. At one point the color began to lighten and the smell became less evident. Then one day, it just wasn't there. Knives are more durable.



About the Author(s)

Brent Murphree

Senior Editor, Delta Farm Press

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