YES, I AM still here, and if I wore a cap I’d be holding it in my hands while I make this confession.
I greatly enjoyed the events surrounding the dedication of the James Black Bladesmithing and Historic Trades School at Old Washington, last Friday.
My story on the front page of today’s paper says that, temporarily on display in the interior of one of the gray buildings that make up the school, was a blade thought to be the original Bowie Knife made by the town’s blacksmith James Black for Texas Alamo hero James Bowie.
Some people dispute that it is the REAL Bowie Knife, but I hope it is the real one. I wanted to see it. And seeing it would top off a splendid day of activities.
I confess that I did not see Bowie #1 with my own eyes, even though I wrote that it was there.
Friday was a long day without lunch. I watched the bladesmith competition in the old gym, then went over and stood in the rain to wait on the governor’s comments and the dedication of the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana speciality school.
It was cold and raining, but there probably 20 people including media standing at the back of the rows of chairs reserved for bigwigs. There were probably another 50 under a nearby tent where the bladesmiths would later be able to display and sell their blades. The Gov and the dignitaries were inside — dry and warm.
Then they came outside.
One of the speakers, a guy introduced as chairman of the board of trustees of the UofA, said he would keep his remarks brief. And he did, God bless him. A couple of others spoke and spoke. And it rained and rained and rained.
Finally the Gov spoke. He is an affable gentleman and I like him. His brief remarks were just fine for the occasion. He called ‘our’ Jerry Fisk to the stage to help unveil the blade Fisk had made for the occasion. Together, they did a swell job. I got a picture.
Then we were all invited to stand outside at an adjacent building to witness the ceremonial lighting of the school’s blacksmith forge and then, presumably to line up and get a look at Bowie #1.
And that is when old, cold, wet Louie ducked out. Too many people ahead of me to witness the lighting of the forge (which I had seen in actual operation once before), and I knew there would be a long line to see Bowie #1.
So I walked to my buggy and drove home to get out of wet duds. I wrote about Bowie #1 being on display because we got a news release saying it would be. I’ll take their word for it. I’m being honest here.
I’ll go to the Arkansas Territorial Restoration in Little Rock someday and see it. Maybe I’ve already done that, but I forget.
One of the memories I’ll keep from the event occurred at the bladesmith competition.
Jerry Fisk designed the competition to test the makers’ knives. He introduced the 10 competitors, almost all of whom were celebrated knife-makers. One guy even came all the way from Brazil for the occasion.
The first event was the maker using his knife to chop through a pine 2×4. The chopping tests the strength of the blade and handle. When the guy from Brazil chopped the board, his knife broke at the handle and he was therefore disqualified. What the heck? He came all the way from Brazil and got to compete for about 10 seconds???
During the competition, Master Bladesmith Fisk described each event and told why the different tests were important. If you know Jerry, you know that his remarks were often humorous.
After all, he brags that he graduated 9th in a class of 11 at Lockesburg High School. At least two LHS grads dispute his class standing.
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ANIMAL CRACKERS. I have been disturbed at the number of recent news articles about the decline of the world’s bird population. I can tell you that the numbers of bluejays that squabble over raw peanuts set out on my patio have really declined. Maybe I’m just missing when they swoop in to snatch a nut. Got plenty of cardinals, though. They’ve finally learned how to pick up a peanut shell with their smaller beaks. I used to have brown thrushes aplenty at the peanut table, but haven’t seen a single one in recent months.
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#1 FAIR WEATHER HOG FAN. I am a much better fan of the basketball teams (male and female) than I am of the football team. However, I really didn’t think we’d beat Kentucky. The new men’s coach has restored enthusiasm, and I look forward to the day when I can remain in the room for the entire game.
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THINGS I LEARNED from opening (and believing) email: “The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for.”
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WORD GAMES. Another set of twins: Dollars and Cents. I don’t like it when a clerk hands me the sales receipt along with the change in bills and coins all at the same time. I want just a few seconds to look at the receipt; to count the bills and replace them in my billfold; and shove the coins into my pants pocket before I walk off and leave the sack with my purchase on the counter.
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HE SAID: “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” Martin Luther King, Jr., minister and activist
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SHE SAID: “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul – and sings the tunes without the words – and never stops at all.” Emily Dickinson, poet
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SWEET DREAMS, Baby