A few days ago I was walking the aisles of the BLADE Show in Atlanta with my son, Jason and my two teenage grandsons, Alec and Aidan. Since Jerry’s passing, a day trip to BLADE has become a mother/son outing which I hope can continue, maybe even with the grandsons in attendance as well. Seeing what’s new and what stays popular is always a reason to be there but, more importantly, getting together with industry friends and catching up on what’s new with their families and such is priceless. We call or email friends who are coming in for the show and set up a time and place to meet, then go our separate ways and maybe get together later to discuss what we saw that was of special interest.
Our family tradition for as long as I can remember is that the first stop taken once we get through the exhibition hall doors is the Crawford Knives table. Pat and Wes and the Aherns go back many decades; Wes and Jason meeting and working shows such as this when they were young teens. I’ll never forget how the two of them managed to order and actually get a pizza delivery person into the SHOT Show. Pat has been making quality custom knives since 1972 and now Wes is giving his old man some slack, taking over most of the daily chores involved in their business. Crawford knives have found their way into my purse on many occasions as well as Jerry’s pockets. Occasionally, one of their knives has dangled on a neck chain or, disguised as an ordinary object, tucked away in a desk or dresser drawer. Their table always has new and interesting knives and is knee deep in attendees.
Next stop on our annual tour is Benchmade where Les and Roberta de Asis hang out. Balisong USA started manufacturing balisongs in the late 1970s, and then changed its name to Pacific Cutlery in the early 1980s, before finally becoming Benchmade. After seeing a demonstration of what the knife could do in the hands of a pro like martial artist, actor, stuntman and author of one of the first books published in the US on Balisong knives, Jeff Imada -- who also incidentally, was the fight/stunt consultant for all the TWILIGHT movies -- it was decided that our character Natalia, in the SURVIVALIST series needed such a knife as one of her primary weapons. After all these years, Natalia still lets her Butterfly knife soar and always hits her mark. Family life and children haven’t slowed her up any more than being the First Lady of the United States.
Moving over to stage right is the booth where A.G. Russell and his wife Goldie hold court. They graciously take the time to talk to everyone who comes over to speak with them, showing new designs as well as knife show favorites. His name, as well as Goldie’s, are legends in the knife industry and to collectors. A.G. Russell Knives is the largest reseller of knives in the world, founded in 1964. In 1970, he co-founded the Knife Collectors Club and the Knifemakers' Guild, both of which are the oldest continuously functioning organizations of their types. He was the first member of the Knife Digest Cutlery Hall of Fame and produced the first commemorative pocket knife. In 1975, he designed a knife that Jerry fell in love with and carried with him either inside his waistband or tucked inside his boot. Jerry even gave John Thomas Rourke, the lead character in the SURVIVALIST series, a STING boot knife that was good for hunting and everyday tasks as well as for personal protection. His Sting has been through a lot over the years and has helped keep our hero alive and well. Rourke still carries a Sting 1A with a black chrome finish, ready for its next challenge.
In the SURVIVALIST time frame, over 650 years have passed. In our world, Natalia, with her Balisong and Rourke with his Sting have now been fighting the good fight for almost 35 years, the series premiering in 1981. I think that sounds like a great endorsement for their choice of edged weapons. Jerry picked the best for his own personal carry and for those fictional characters that fought to stay alive.
Old friends, new friends, endearing friends. Friends that you share a common bond with, new friends that might surprise you, friends that you trust to be there when you need them; they all can be found at the Blade show.