“I am not anti-gun. I'm pro-knife. Consider the merits of the knife. In the first place, you have to catch up with someone in order to stab him. A general substitution of knives for guns would promote physical fitness. We'd turn into a whole nation of great runners. Plus, knives don't ricochet. And people are seldom killed while cleaning their knives.” -- Molly Ivins
Anyone who has followed my blog over the last five months will know that I have gleaned my material from a wide variety of sources. Two weeks ago my good friend Don sent me a photo of a knife, telling me that it was in use in the 1940's and 1950's while I was growing up in Kuroki Hotel. It was in service three miles west of Kuroki Hotel on Don's parents' family farm. He said that the knife has tales of cutting willows, soft with rising spring sap, perfect for whittling into a whistle. In the family farm kitchen it would slice bread that was fresh out of a wood stove oven. It even saw front line action when pig butchering was necessary.
He wonders if any of my blog readers are able to solve the puzzle of the heritage of the knife from the faint inscription that remains on the blade. I've included a photo of the whole knife as well as an enlargement of the the worn down inscription. Please comment or speculate if you have an inkling about the knife's heritage.
Below the photos of the knife I go on to muse more about our boyhood knives.
Don's email and knife photo started me cogitating about knives, particularly the huge, razor-sharp butcher knife I used to murder the innocent hen in chapter two of my book. I also thought of all the other common uses of knives in the early and middle part of the twentieth century, about the hunting knives so many early settlers routinely carried with them, and about the jack-knives most school boys carried in the 1950's.
This brings me to Mumbley Peg. Prior to beginning this blog I had never heard of the term "Mumbley Peg". However, one fond memory I have is, on a stifling hot day in July in the mid 1950's, sitting with three of my friends on the cool green grass in the shade of a huge spruce tree in the churchyard just one block from Kuroki Hotel - everything in Kuroki was about one block from the hotel - and playing a game we called "Knife". The game was played with a jack-knife and consisted of making various intricate moves with the knife and throwing it so that it would always land blade-first and stick into the soft sod of the lawn. Each player took a turn at throwing the knife in the prescribed manner until he failed to make the knife blade stick in the sod. The knife was then passed to the next player who attempted to execute the whole series of knife throws, which became progressively more difficult, until he too failed to make the knife stick. It was a great competitive game boys played to waste time in the days before smart phones, computers and iPads.
Now to the mystery of "Mumbley Peg". As I was surfing the net, trying to recall all the intricate moves in the game we called "Knife", I came across the description of a game called Mumbley Peg. Go back and click on one of the photos of Don's knife to take you to a web site that describes the game of Mumbley Peg and reminisce about innocent childhood days throwing dangerous weapons into the cool, green churchyard sod.
Gerald M. Sliva
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