The Tiny Pocket Knife That I Will Carry Until I Lose

I am not a Navy Seal. I don't need a fixed-blade, full-tang pocket sword with a tanto blade and a Rockwell factor of 58. I open a lot of boxes and trim my nails with this 50-year-old pen knife. It used to be my grandfather's. I'm named after him. He died before I was born.

I found this little knife while cleaning out my family's storage space a year or so ago. It's about the size of a Sharpie's cap when folded, and it fits perfectly in the fifth pocket of my 501s. I take it with me everywhere. I check-in luggage when travelling, so I can bring it with me because, for my purposes, it's perfect. You never know when a pocket knife will come in handy. The world is full of things to cut.

The knife was made by a company called Imperial, which operated out of Providence, RI, between 1916 and 2004. It's nothing fancy and never was; imperial-made, value-priced knives for regular people.

My knife's blades hold their edges extremely well and don't flop closed. They're grimy, too, but I don't care. They were grimy when I got them, and I often find myself wondering what my grandfather did to dirty them up. Did he open a bunch of packages with it, or did he use it at the lumber yard where he worked? Did he free-trim his nails too? Did he have a girlfriend who hated that habit also? Did he take it to WWII with him?

I wonder if he also marveled at how pocketable this knife is, and how the little blade is the perfect weapon to use against pulled-tight packing tape without damaging a box's contents.

Hopefully I'll pass this knife on to one of my kids some day. And hopefully they won't lose it. But no big deal if they do — I have another. Bought it on eBay for $US15, and it's in much better shape than this one. They're easy to find. That's part of what makes them so amazing.

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