Swiss Army Watch – does anybody really know what time it is?

I love wrist watches. You do not see many men wearing watches anymore. I guess it has to do with the prevalence of cell phones. The cell phone always has the correct time. It tells you the date.

A watch is so much more convenient, all I need do is turn my wrist a little to see at a glance what time it is.

I feel naked without a watch – I suppose my father had a lot to do with this. He always wore a wrist watch.  I have an assortment of watches. I have a watch that Jimmy Hoffa presented to my grandfather for 25 years of service as a Teamster in Philadelphia. I have my father’s watch. I only wear them on special occasions – could not bear the thought of destroying them or losing them. They cannot be replaced.

This is a Victorinox watch. Victorinox makes Swiss Army knives. It is not an expensive watch – and it doesn’t have 15 blades and tools. It simply tells time and the date. It is made in Switzerland, not China.

I had a Swiss Army knife when I was a kid. My father bought it for me for my 10th birthday. It is funny how certain things you remember with clarity. The red handle, the multi-tool functionality long before the Leatherman was even a thought in some entrepreneur’s head.

The knife had the requisite two blades, one large, one small. It had an awl, a pair of scissors, a file, a screwdriver blade, even a removable tooth pick. It had more tools that escape my memory. I was so proud of this knife that I took it to school for show and tell.

Many people might remember show and tell. It was a Friday afternoon deal in grade school. It was largely uncensored and unregulated. I never had anything to take to show and tell – until my tenth birthday.

Today, a child would be expelled under zero-tolerance rules, for bringing in a “weapon”. Hell, kids get expelled for bringing in 2-inch long plastic GI Joe guns to school. The wisdom of those running the public education system!

I used to bring live rounds of ammunition to school – one day a friend of mine, Blair, brought in a half of a bazooka to give to me. We never got expelled. We never committed acts of terrorism or participated in mass shootings. Maybe that has something to do with the fact that we were taught respect at home.

My father entrusted me with responsibility. If I had once abrogated that trust, I can assure you that the freedom would have been quickly retracted.

My father also entrusted me with knowledge and critical thinking. When I was nine years old, and suffering from a severe bout of tonsillitis, home from school, he bought me a copy of Mark Twain’s  Huckleberry Finn. A booked banned from many schools, censored by weak-minded individuals. He also gave me a copy of Thoreau’s Walden and The Duty of Civil Disobedience. He also gave me Che Guevara’s book on guerilla warfare. Many would say this was a reckless library.

I suppose this nostalgia is what spurred my decision to purchase a Victorinox wrist watch.  My father was less than perfect. He could be harsh, impatient. He rarely appreciated disagreement, all the while instilling in my spirit the duty of questioning and disagreeing.  That is a dichotomy that I am not sure he ever resolved in himself.

There is one thing I have never doubted, and that is his love for me and his family.



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