Russ Kay: "Grandpa and Me ... and My First Custom Knife"
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
Grandpa and Me ...
and My First Custom Knife

About a year and a half ago, I realized that I had really become a knife collector. Nothing else would adequately explain my buying one (relatively) expensive factory folder after another. I tried not to admit this to myself for a long time (Why? Darned if I know.) but the truth will out.

OK, having acknowledged the seriousness of my interest, I started to think about where this interest had come from, and where I thought I might want to go with it. Well, there are lots of things I’d like to do, knives I’d like to acquire, but that’s for the future. What was even more interesting, to me, was the past, where this interest came from.

I finally made a connection with my grandfather, certainly the most important, influential, and revered man in my childhood, my father having died when I was two.


Grandpa had three big, wonderful knives that he kept in his dresser drawer. One was a stag-handled bowie, one was a Case sheath knife, and the third was a Finnish puukko. As a kid, it the early 1950s, I used to take them out of the drawer, remove them from their sheaths, and admire them and fantasize about them, but that’s as much as I could ever do. Use them?! Not likely.

Fast forward 20 years or so. My grandfather died. Eventually, I inherited the knives. I think I did, anyway. I have the puukko, but no one seems to know now what happened to the other two. Conceivably I could have had them in my possession at that time, but I don’t believe so. In any case, they are now long gone. The bowie stands out clearly in my memory, but I can’t picture the Case at all.

Fast forward another 20 years to the present. Having acknowledged myself as a knife collector, I decided that I had to have Grandpa’s knives, somehow. The puukko was easy. At a time when it hadn’t meant very much to me, I had given it to my son Alex, who used to take it on SCA encampments. Unfortunately, he never gave it any maintenance, and it was not stainless. Alex gladly gave it back to me, but it’s in a bad way. I polished off the rust, but there’s nothing to be done about the severe pitting.

The Case I couldn’t remember anything about – not handle shape, material, or size. I’ve looked through old catalogs--heck, I’ve looked at lots of old Case sheath knives--and nothing rings a bell. This one will have to wait, maybe forever.


But the bowie ... that I could visualize so clearly, so tantalizingly. I went to knife shows, looking at old bowies, but I never found one that had quite the same size or shape, or that was good enough. So I finally decided to commission a replica. Last April, I sat down with knifemaker Jim Siska and explained my situation. I had found an old drawing of a blade that matched my memory, and I had copied it and blown it up. I gave Jim the drawing, we agreed on a price, ($375), specs (carbon steel, full tang, amber stag handle, brass guard), and delivery (by Christmas 1997).


Well, Christmas just arrived a little early! I went to the Northeast Cutlery Collectors’ Association show in Marlboro today. Jim Siska’s table, as usual, was at the far end of the room from the entrance. I found that I was dragging out the wait, stopping to talk to people along the way, trying to delay the encounter. But I finally got to the end of the aisle, I couldn’t stall any longer, and there it was. Jim only had four knives on his table, and one of them was mine. MINE! It is gorgeous, just gorgeous. Oh, I wasn’t excited, not a bit.

I had picked Jim Siska to make this knife because I have admired his work, both the art and the craft of it, and I liked the feeling I get when I look at or handle one of his knives. The knife he’s made for me is a period piece, not typical of his normal work, but it’s clearly related to the knives he’s known for, and he admitted that he enjoys making bowies. The grind lines and finish on the 3/16-inch thick O-1 blade are flawless, the point is a work of art, the wonderful stag handle fits my hand like it was made for me (Duh, it was!), and even the plain sheath is elegantly handsome.

DadKnife

Now, some truths. This is undoubtedly a far better knife than Grandpa had, maybe even than he ever thought of having. And if I did suddenly have his knife to put next to this, I’d probably find that my recollection of it was faulty, and the new knife looks significantly different.

This isn’t Grandpa’s knife, it’s mine, made in memory of his. I cherish it, and when I look at it, as I’m doing now while I write this, I think of that wonderful man and all the strength I once drew from him ... and still continue to.

Thanks, Jim, for helping make a dream come true. And thank you, Grandpa, for everything you gave me and for who you were. I’m sorry I lost your knife, but I think you’ll be proud of the new one we’ve got, you and I.
-- Russell Kay, December 7, 1997
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Russ Kay: "Thoughts on Alex leaving for college"
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
Dad wrote this in 1984. Mom put a copy of it (and the referenced article) away in an envelope marked “For Alex when his kids go to college”. But I never had children, and they never went. Dad came across the envelope while going through her things some years after her death, and gave it to me then. I’ve added some editorial comments, in brackets.
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Russ Kay: "RAKay death thoughts"
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
Another document from dad's hard drive, musing on the death of his own father.
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Russ Kay: "Confessions of a Sometimes Bigot/Racist"
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
Found on my dad's hard drive. File is dated 9/18/2012, which may or may not be accurate. I have no context as to why he wrote it, or for what audience he intended it.

Confessions of a Sometimes Bigot/Racist
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Dream snippet
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
"Hey man, I was just tryin' ta help."
"Do you know how many people I have had to KILL because of your 'help'? TWELVE! Twelve people! So far..."

Not all pain is physical...
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
So, now that the neck injection is over, I'm allowed to take Ibuprofen again. Yay! (The injection itself isn't expected to 'kick in' for 3-5 days.)

So why am I awake right now?

Sentinels of the Multiverse released a new build to the beta testers this morning. So I got a *little* sleep, but I *literally* dreamed about obscure rules combinations, and eventually the uncertainty woke me up completely and I spent a few hours posting questions on various online forums.

*sigh*

Time for a snack, more drugs, and then sleep attempt, take 2...

OW.
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
Tomorrow, I go in to get a neck injection that may help with my chronic pain issues. But in the biting irony department, for 48 hours beforehand, I have to stop taking ibuprofen. Last night did not feature much actual sleep. And what sleep I did get was punctuated by dream featuring such restful topics as "wandering around awake because I couldn't sleep from pain" and "watching really bad Star Wars sequels". It's gonna be a looooong weekend, and not in the good way.

ParaHistorical Patreon
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
I have finally gotten around to setting up a Patreon to support, at least in a limited way, my ParaHistorical Studies. If you're one of the people who follow my LJ for that sort of thing, please check it out.

Lucky Thirteenth
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
Thirteen years ago, on this date, kestrell and I were wed.

It's a cliche, but thinking back on it, that may legitimately have been the happiest day of my adult life so far. Asking Kes to marry me is absolutely the number one all-time cleverest thing I have done.
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Testing full circle
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
I've been playing tons of the new Sentinels of the Multiverse app. I've also, being me, been making lots of suggestions / bug reports on their forums. I have made myself sufficiently annoying/useful that they've invited me into their beta, so I can give more immediate feedback :-)

It occurs to me that my very first toe-dipping into the games industry was an unpaid gig as a beta tester for an early computer version of Magic: the Gathering. You can take the boy out of QA, but you can't take the QA out of the boy :-)

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