JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge
FREMONT - Deep inside a drafty old brick building, Randy Christy meticulously assembles shiny bits of decorated metal into a sharp, useful memorial to a bygone era - and to his late father.
"It takes 53 operations to assemble each knife, something like six hours to make one knife," explained Mr. Christy, 57, a machinist and fourth-generation knife maker, of the 70-year-old pocketknife that bears his name. "I assemble each one by hand, just like my dad did."
In late 2006, while cleaning out a polishing booth, Mr. Christy made a remarkable discovery: a tray containing 325 finely decorated gold-plated frames for Christy Knife Co.
"I was ecstatic," he said. "They had probably been buried there since the 1940s. I'm sure my dad didn't know they were there."
He also found a box containing enough nickel-plated carbon steel blades, the type that first adorned the business end of the pocketknife his grandfather designed. That allowed him to complete a limited series of commemorative knives.
"It will be the same knife now that it was in 1936," said Mr. Christy. The pocket knife, with its locking blade and one-handed operation, was popular among servicemen during World War II and remains popular among those who carried them, and with their descendents.
Carl Heimerdinger, of Heim-
erdinger Cutlery Co. Inc. in Louisville, Ky., said the Christy knife had a special place with customers: "There was a lot of sentimentality associated with it."
Mr. Christy's wife, Donna, said, "We get letters all the time from people who say, 'My father always carried one, and I'd like one.'•"
The knives will be sold locally at Harvey Oaks Jewelers in Fremont in a laser-etched birds-eye-maple box that features an image of Mr. Christy's late father and former company president, E.B., who died of cancer in 2006. Each knife and box will be sold for $169.95.
Early in the 1900s, Christy Knife had more than 400 employees in Fremont making a variety of cutlery and other implements and utensils, and it held a patent on the serrated bread knife. Now, however, Mr. and Mrs. Christy are the only employees.
Once the commemorative knives are assembled, Mr. Christy will clear out all the machinery, equipment, and records from the company's Dickinson Street headquarters so the building can be sold.
Contact Larry P. Vellequette at: