Pat Shingleton: "The Barlow and Splashing Apples"
George Washington carried one and Mark Twain wrote of a “real Barlow” in “Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn” in 1876. A Barlow is classified as a penknife however original penknives didn’t have folding blade that resembled a scalpel. Designed, many years ago, it was manufactured to thin and point writing instruments known as quills. Both knives were used for whittling which is an exercise in cutting small bits or pare shavings from a piece of wood. No matter what the season, Bert Price, our grandfather, not only carried a Barlow but also whittled and meticulously sharped the blade on a "wet stone." The wet stone was either a small graphite stone or a sandstone wheel that was operated with a foot pedal. When we would ask “Gramps” to borrow his Barlow he would fold his newspaper, spit some tobacco juice and retrieve his precious knife from his overalls, saying, “Now mind, that Barlow is sharp and cuts two inches ahead of its shadow.” In closing, the apple harvest is either underway or concluding in northern orchards. Our backyard provided a good crop for everyone. Mom secured enough produce to “put up” apple sauce, apple butter and freezer apples for pies and cobblers. To compliment refrigeration, a basement or spring house provided a “climate controlled” environment for turnips, potatoes, carrots, peaches and apples. Another location was an abandoned well. Our Dad and Grandfather devised a means of “basketing” apples, attached to a rope and lowered into the well just above the water line. An crisp "apple urge" sent Dad outdoors on a cold winter night to enjoy the previously harvested delights. Attempting to retrieve the crisp treat, he felt less rope tension and heard the splash. Cold weather above the 14 inch freeze-line snapped the line.