Lot's of different pics of this sign.

Lot's of different pics of this sign.
"I don't make hell for nobody. I'm only the instrument of a laughing providence. Sometimes I don't like it myself, but I couldn't help it if I was born smart."

1st Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden.
"From here to Eternity"

Paul Valery

"You are in love with intelligence, until it frightens you. For your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresistible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time."

The Wisdom of the Ages

"When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, 'All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed',"

Mikhail Kalashnikov
"Here lies the bravest soldier I've seen since my mirror got grease on it."

Zapp Brannigan

Friday, November 16, 2007

Crozier Tech High

It's time I cleared my head and quit throwing stones at the neo-natal-cons. I read their blogs (I can't help it - it's like driving by an auto accident) and... it just pisses me off. It's completely unproductive.
So, back to the matter at hand. But first, a tiny detour: One of the heavily armed children whose scribblings I've been perusing of late is this fella. He's obviously very good at what he does. I think his work is artful, competent...I'm not being condescending...it really is good. It's just that he's got the academic creds to put me in the back row so, even though I trust my "eye", my college dropout (three times - three is the number of completion) self-esteem makes me hesitant to wax too verbose.
Anyway, I just hope he's got another area to explore. I mean the "cute girls with guns" thing had been done to death - long ago - well before I was born. Hell, you can get the Ridgid company calendar and see "cute girls with pipe wrenches (wenches w/ wrenches?)". Anyway. Really. We get it.
But, again, not just to throw stones, I offer up my favorite photographer of all time, Jan Saudek.
His is the initial photo and I think it a far better exploration of the "CGWG" genre. It looks like a Lefaucheaux, pin-fire. Maybe not, but it's close. Notice though: It's not even cocked. Oooo ... ambiguous.
Okay, really...back to the matter at hand: Shivs, shanks and pig-stickers: I've railed before at the incredible ignorance of the folks responsible for military procurement. These are the guys who say: "Why would they need knives? C-rats come with a can opener...and besides, there's the other P-38 the 'forked tail devil' to provide air support. What's wrong with these guys? They're covered. What the hell else would they need?"
Well, shipmate, the same way you needed a teddy-bear to go sleepie-bye in your younger years, one occasionally feels a desire for some anachronistic throwback, the value of which is primarily atavistic. How's that for vocabulary? I'm trying to bust out of the High-School reading level (see above). Wish me luck.
And that atavistic item is...wait for it...the knife. Boy, who'd 'a seen that comin'?
Yeah, the guys wanted knives. The govt. hadn't thought about them, so every swingin' dick in the states with any metal-shop capability started cranking them out for the lads.
Next photo: I've showed this before. It's a charmingly simple Bowie made by the "Vocational School, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin", specifically by one "Donald Lauzon". Good job, Don.
So, back in the day, before people had been dropped on their heads and kids couldn't bring a butter knife to school (Don't get me started. I took my Dad's kukri's for show-and-tell every year of elementary school), back in that magic, golden time, metal shop students made knives for the troops.
Next picture: A nice knuckle knife, obviously McNary inspired but with a far simpler casting pattern (better for guys new at pattern-making) made by "Trades School, Huntington West Virginia".
The real point (and I do have one) is the institution named in the title. Folks from Dallas may know of it. Apparently there's some sort of pissing contest over saving this abandoned wreck of a 1907 building. Seriously, Trini Lopez, you know... the song: "Yellow Bird"..."The Dirty Dozen" his only movie. That guy, the one with the scar on his lip. Anyway, he dropped out from this school.
But, they did the knife thing as well. Because I'm tired and lazy, and Frank Trzaska can tell the story better than I can, here's a link to an article regarding aforesaid institution.
Finally, a picture of a serious metal shop project. It, sadly probably never made it to the war but it is a compendium on all the goodies that make theater knives cool. The fanciful, scimitar-shaped blade, the stacked handle of aluminum and Bakelite. It's to die for. Anyone's high-school dream (anyone who's got a pair that is).
Following this, please find the copy that accompanied same. Again, I can't restate this any better. But again, Good job, Billy.
"The blade is engraved TECH HIGH with the name BILLY TAWATER also residing there. Now a quick search has show the Tawater name to be very popular in the Dallas area, where the knife was picked up by the way at a local estate sale. So we have a local name in a local estate sale with the Tech High engraving, this all puts a lot of clues on the table and produces a fairly convincing story. But it is all circumstantial at this time. Do we have any readers who are local to Dallas? The Crozier Tech Archives are housed in the Dallas Public library. Wouldn’t it be great to place old Billy Tawater in the Crozier Tech school circa the early 1940’s? The knife itself does not follow the descriptions given for the known knives but it does generate our interest. Anyone…?"
In closing, because I'm tired and more than a few "Patrol Boats, Riverine" have traveled downstream, I'll leave you with this bit of wisdom regarding military procurement:
The much-touted Hummvee,a formidible vehicle is primarily designed to haul huge amounts of taxpayer money (the money of"little people" as Leona Helmsley put it) into the coffers of AM General. 'Nuff said,
Good night all.


colquitt said...

I don't know anything about the knifes pictured, but I can verify that we did make some pretty rugged knifes for the military in machine shop at Crozier Tech High, Dallas, in 1943 -45.

Oliver Hart-Parr said...

Awesome. Now, the question is: Did you know Billy Tawater?

Anonymous said...

My Dad gave me a Fond du Lac Vocational School knife that he brought back from WWII. It's exactly like the one in your picture. It belonged to his buddy in the Army, whose name is inscribed on the blade. His friend was from Fond du Lac. IIRC what Dad told me, these knives were made by the vocational school for the soldiers who were from Fond du Lac (his friend was from there).

jerry said...

I am working a research project regarding the Wisconsin Vocational School knives. I have collected several examples, but any additional information or first-person accounts would be very helpful and most appreciated!

Carol said...

These knives look awesome. If I had one of these, I don't believe I'm using it on anything. They are of museum-beauty!

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