Hi my name is Mike and I’m a addict. Yeah I said it. I have been in love with the sharpened blade since…well…forever. My earliest memories go back to when I was 5 or 6 and spent my summers at my uncle’s vacation house. That was where I learned to play mumbly-peg, a game much too dangerous for the America of 2013. That was where, in my later years of 8 or 9, I carved full sized Bowie knives out of tree limbs. Yeah, really. In today’s world, this would probably require some sort of intervention from Social Services…
A a teenager I came across a broken fruit knife and salvaged the blade. I bolted the crudest of wood handles to it, and it serves 50 years later as a work of Americana to cut patches for my muzzleloaders. When I had disposable income as an adult, my addiction blossomed into an obsession.
Just like some junkies prefer heroin over crystal meth, I focused on a knife company that has a fabled history: Randall. Back when I was a postwar kid, my WWII GI dad knew the Randall name and he spoke of it in hushed and reverential tones. During WWII, Randall’s leather handled, straight forward fighting knife gained fame as the blade of commandos.
When Vietnam came along,I sent away by mail for the Randall catalog (mail catalogs, wow) and they sent me back a pamphlet listing all the various models. Sadly for me, it also spelled out the Randall rules: military folks would get first priority from Randall, and it would be YEARS in fact for a civilian order to process and ship. Oh well, in the meantime I’d have to satisfy myself with the pictures in the catalog.
In the 1960’s another Randall would be placed on my pre-Amazon wish list: the Model 17 Astro, commissioned and built for the United States Astronaut corps. It’s hard to convey to folks today what the Seven Mercury Astronauts meant to cold war 1960’s America, but they were like gods. They were experienced young combat and test pilots: the elite of the elite. Out of 200 million Americans, just 7 men were capable of taking on the Russkies and lifting off of this planet. If they needed to, the Randall Model 17 was the blade, the primeval tool, that they could use to literally cut their way out of the capsule or fight their way to survival if they crash-landed in a steaming swamp. Oh Lord, give us men like that today!
As I collected my Randall knives over the years, I learned the ugly facts of life about knife collecting: I would have to keep all the packaging. Every last bit of it. The butcher paper it ships in. The invoice. Everything. I couldn’t sharpen the blade. That was sacrilege. And I would not even be able to wipe or polish the blade. You see, the factory oil on the blade has to never be disturbed. Oh, the pain! And the final rule must never be broken: you cannot use your Randall in mortal combat. NEVER. Because that would stain the blade and require sharpening, and also bring down the price on the secondary market.
A boys dreams were dashed.
Well, my time dusting off the memory cabinet and pulling out some old gems is done, but my love for Randall Knives remain. Maybe I’ll tell you the story about my pilgrimage to the Randall factory in Orlando Florida someday. For now, “keep it sharp” !