Location: marengo, il, United States

Friday, November 20, 2009

hoppy and the electric knife

i had lots of movie heroes to admire, as a child who lived in southern georgia during the 1940s. our parents were not poor people, but thrifty folk, so as a result there were few toys to be had in our house, or other worldly pleasures.

but one in particular was the movie theater in the close-by town of claxton. the price of admission was a nickle, and we kids went there often.

on saturdays, the tos theater would feature movies starring roy rogers and dale evans, or gene autry, lash la rue, buck rogers or tarzan the ape man, and then one of my favorites of all times, the cowboy, hopalong cassidy.

the man wore a black outfit, including his hat. in most westerns at the time, only bad guys wore all black.

but he rode a white horse named topper, and was an absolute good guy, taming the wild west with great skill. i loved this guy.

one weekend, i got to travel to savannah where i attended a matinee for a huge crowd of children. hopalong cassidy himself made a personal appearance that day, and i was forever hooked on the man after that. why couldn't all adults be like him?

somehow, somewhere, at some point in my childhood, i came into possession of my first pocket knife. it was a real treat at the time, being one of the few store-bought toys i had ever owned.

emblazoned on one side of the black, plastic handles was a depiction of hoppy himself, riding high atop his famous steed. the wondrous cowboy swung a lariat in one hand while topper reared up on his hind legs.

i could not wait for the moment to use that knife in some heroic way.

in a barn next to our house, a black rope hung from the rafters. it was a little too long to be of good use. over a foot of it lay on the cement flooring, dragging the ground, simply going to waste.

i liked to swing on the stiff rope at times, pretending to be tarzan himself, but the excess which scraped the floor beneath my feet bothered me. it seemed to be perfectly ripe as the first target of my brand-new weapon.

always a barefoot child, i opened the shiny blade and began sawing away at the black, hardened rope, hurriedly wanting to be done with the task.

as i remember what happened next, some stranger, some outlaw, perhaps, sneaked up behind me while i cut deep into the rope. i never saw him coming.

but i felt him hit me hard on the back of the neck, knocking me half-way across the room.

stunned and scared to death, i scrambled to my feet and fled the barn. i never found the knife, nor saw it ever again.

months later, i came across a lamp in our house which had its bulb removed. curious, i stuck my finger down into the empty socket.

oddly, that same strange man hit me in the back of the neck again, and at that moment i made the connection: electricity and i had been formally introduced to each other, and we two have been foes ever since that day.


Blogger Chris said...

Yeah I remember my first encounter with electricity; a butter-knife and an outlet was all it took. Great reading Dad!

8:06 PM  
Anonymous Ned said...

I have recently had to endure constant pleadings from The Boy to get him a pocket knife. The world is a different place than it was when I grew up, and although such items were common-place when I was his age, nowadays they are immediately viewed suspiciously, banned and any child with one is assumed to be a likely assassin.

The Boy is, well, a boy. Exploration and experiment always trump common sense. For this reason I was loath to consider this request for a sharp implement.

Of course I hadn't contemplated his cutting through electrical cords. Now I have something else to worry about...

8:53 PM  

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