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Mumbly-Peg

Open all three blades. Long shining blade straight out; peeler blade straight out the other end; little peeler at right angles to the haft.



MOST EVERY BOY in Dix had a knife. Almost every one of those knives had three blades: long shining sticker, a little whittler, and a middle-sized apple peeler. Almost all these three-bladed knives were genuine Barlows. My three-bladed genuine Barlow was a birthday present from Granddad. It had a white bone handle.

We played mumbly-peg most afternoons after school. Usually we played under the big maple tree in Leroy Chapman’s front yard. Sometimes we played until nearly supper time.

Hour after hour, afternoon after afternoon, mumbly-peg.

Mumbly-peg? Open all three blades. Long shining sticker blade straight out; peeler blade straight out the other end; little peeler at right angles to the haft. The object is to stick a blade in the dirt—but to stick each blade in sequence. Start out with sticker blade off the thumbnail, flip knife and stick sticker in the ground. Next stick peeler, then whittler. It’s OK to move your thumb up or down. Must stick all three blades in the right sequence. Blade doesn’t have to go into the ground straight up, but that one blade must support the knife. Failure passes turn to next guy.

With success on the first act (sticking each of the three blades in proper sequence), elbow replaces thumbnail.

Wasn’t often anyone got through Act 2. But on that rare occasion, Act 3 took the blade to the head. Anywhere on the head. Cap was permitted to prevent permanent scarring.

Those were our rules. Every day we brought out our three-bladed Barlows. Every day we flipped them, taking proper turns. Sticking skinny in Act 1 was easy. Sticking peeler was fairly easy too. Sticking whittler, out at right angles, was really, really difficult. Hour after hour, afternoon after afternoon, mumbly-peg.

We never had to invent Act 4, though, because none of us ever finished Act 3.






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