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Today, I can still rememberthe souRd ofthe hand-hammer striking the red-hot iron, and moulding the blade; and also the smell of the hot cow hornof which the handle was made. In the rural world, the pocket-knife used to be the most common tool, being part of day to day life. ft was seen asthe third hand, so indispensable as the other two. ft was handled with ali the care in the world, to avoid it becoming rusty; likewise, the edge was carefully preserved from flaws or blunts.
It weighted little in countrymen's p'ockets, were it staid from dawn on, together with the handkerchief and an ounce of tobacco for smokers.
Although there were a thousand shapes, the quarter of circle edge was the most usual one.
One could cut bread with it, in the typical feature of the country (the piece of bread held in the left hand, close to the chest, while the right hand slices it, in an inward-outward movement); one could a/so slash open a cucumber drawing a cross on top of it, and salting it with coarse saft. A pocket-knife was used to finger-cut onions and to pick sardines from the burning coal (pressing the head of the sardine between the thumb and the knife blade); then it was placed on the slice of bread or on an enamel-plated dish. Just like a fork, it was used to stick potato halves and take them to the mouth. Olives could be cut into small pieces and bacon was also slashed before being laid on a vine-Ieaf mantle over burning coa/. These little tools served to sharpen wooden sticks to pick teeth after a mea/; muddy boots were cleaned; tallow greased paper was tucked away in gaps of large casks; likewise, they were used to precisely cut and tear the cloth-sack. The pocket-knife served to shape and mould cork into astopper; it also served for nail-cutting on man and removing casks of animaIs. In case of need, it worked like a screwdriver; unnailing a thorn from one's hand palm was also one of its purposes. It could also drawa path or a house on the ground. On freshly cemented surface, it served to mark names or merely a cross. At break time, one could give full scope to one's imagination, carving soft wooden marvellous miniature pieces, or shaping up a fife made up of cane wood. Pocket-knives could also work as penci! sharpeners at school, letters could be opened, and some times even books. Man could face any danger - real or imaginary. Man never feft alone with a pocket-knife.
Book "Crónicas dos anos 50/60" by João Serra, in ICEL - Catalog of Pocket-Knives