I can’t tell you the exact day or month it happened, yet I can pinpoint things down to the late 1950’s or early 1960’s. Much of what I’m about to tell you is pure speculation on my part. A good portion of this story took place many years ago.
Our family was visiting good friends, Luther & Margaret Hudspeth, in Selma, Alabama. It might’ve been Christmas, but then again, Thanksgiving is a distinct possibility; whatever the occasion, a large turkey, ham, or roast was about to be carved.
At this feast, Luther Hudspeth brought out a small box with his newly purchased electric carving knife tucked inside. I’d never heard of one and it was evident mom and dad hadn’t either. I tend to believe my folks hovered over the device oohing and awing like it was a newborn child.
When Mr. Hudspeth turned the thing on and began slicing meat with ease, most likely additional oohs and awe’s were uttered by my parents. I’m sure that was the precise moment my father decided he needed one.
The key word arising from that occasion is Sunbeam. Dad’s Craig Air Force Base pal, Sgt. Luther Hudspeth, told him he needed to get a Sunbeam, as it was the best electric carver on the market. I’m sure in pop’s way of seeing things, a utensil like that would only enhance his already well-deserved Master Carver title.
Flash ahead to the next big holiday. By this time my father had his own Sunbeam AW-100 in hand. This would’ve been its maiden voyage into freshly baked turkey.
Because the carver’s cord was not long enough to reach an electrical outlet in our small kitchen, mom grabbed an extension cord. For whatever reason, all electrical devices in early mobile homes required extension cords.
When my old man (I use those words with complete reverence) turned his magical knife on and began slicing, my mom, brother, and I stood back and watched. After a few chunks of meat dropped to the side mother couldn’t wait to ask,
“How’s it cut?”
The old man was never one to mince words. He was brief and straight to the point. Hesitating for a few seconds he spoke,
“Like a knife!”
That blunt response was representative of my father’s dry sense of humor. Mother understood his wisecracks and cackled. Evidently I didn’t see the remark as funny. Neither did my brother. The only reason I can accurately rehash this portion of history is because mother loved to tell this story.
Dad’s precious electric meat carver was kept in a special place in a bottom kitchen drawer. Jim and I were warned to keep hands off as our parents deemed the machine dangerous.
“It’ll cut a finger off before you know it!”
I had no use for the tool being somewhat afraid of it. Jim on the other hand, found it extremely handy in cutting excess plastic off airplane and car model parts. He was clever enough to place the box back in its exact spot, so that our parents would never know.
As time slid by the once invincible cutting tool became impossible to use. The blades were so dull they wouldn’t cut through even the tenderest of meat. My father tried sharpening both serrated blades with zero success. He blamed this failure on them being made with low-quality steel.
Jim and I were the only ones knowing the true reason. My brother had placed both blades over a stove burner to help remove imbedded plastic. Years later we learned that doing so took the hardness out of metal.
After perhaps a three-year lifespan this once invaluable knife was tossed in the trash. Dad returned to using his always dependable wood-handle model.
Several years ago my wife decided we needed an electric carving knife. Without asking what I thought of the idea she came home one day with a rechargeable Sunbeam. I had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing.
At Thanksgiving, Joleen and the kids stood around watching me dissect a ham. After a few pieces rolled to the side of a serving plate Joleen didn’t hesitate in asking,
“How’s it cut?”
Remembering dad’s crass reply to this very question, I decided to add a little panache’ to my answer. Shutting the knife off while gazing down at the meat, I attempted to come across as a wise person searching precisely for the right words. With unrehearsed choreography I paused at least 15 seconds before replying,
“Like a knife!
Gunnar and Miranda cracked up while Joleen’s face went blank. She quickly saw through the wiseguy humor and smacked me. It was obvious on that Thanksgiving Day – my children Gunnar and Miranda had developed the same dry sense of humor I’d inherited from dad.
Joleen’s electric carver is seldom used these days. During holidays we opt for spiral cut hams instead of cumbersome turkeys or roasts. Just recently I put the Sunbeam to good use in slicing up pieces of foam for an upholstery job. The handy kitchen tool saved precious time in my not having to use scissors. Several pieces of thick foam were cut into squares with perfection.
Not only did I inherit a unique sense of humor from my father, but I picked up his Master Carver skills as well!