Sunday, February 10, 2019

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy (revisited)

What do you do with yours?

Julie Carter

Back in 1975, a man named Tim Leatherman was traveling through Europe on a shoestring budget in a cranky car with leaky pipes.

It was during this trying time he birthed the idea of a pocket survival tool. That tool today is known simply as the "Leatherman."

By 1977, the tool had taken on a rough form and in 1980, "Mr. Crunch" was patented. And finally in l985, 10 years after that idea, came the founding of Leatherman Tool.

By 1994, they employed more than 200 people. Through the '90s, new and better designs were released, setting the standard in the all-purpose pocket tool industry.

For those of you that missed it, the Leatherman tool is a fold-up tool that incorporates all the following tools in one handy frame: needle-nose pliers, regular pliers, wire cutters, hard-wire cutters, clip-point knife, serrated knife, diamond-coated file, wood saw, scissors, extra small screwdriver, small screwdriver, medium screwdriver, large screwdriver, Phillips screwdriver, can / bottle opener, wire stripper and lanyard attachment.

Out here in "real men carry pocket knives" country, the Leatherman phenomenon was a little slow to catch on.

A Leatherman was pretty pricey for a pair of pliers, and the "I already have a good knife" made it easy to blow off the multipurpose handy-for-anything tool. They would show up under the tree for a gift at Christmas and promptly end up in the drawer next to the hankies with the initial embroidered on them and the ugly boxers.

In the meantime, the world knew something we didn't. Other tool companies began manufacturing acceptable, affordable imitations of the revered original. Gerber, Seber, Sears and an assortment of companies flooded the market in every shape, size and color.

Someone even put a teensy version on a key chain, handy for nose picking and nail cleaning.

Then it happened. Some "real" man dared to show up in the branding corral with one of the versions of the "fad" on his belt, neatly snapped in a little case. He used it to pull some cactus out of a horse's leg and change the needles on a vaccine gun. He loaned it to a kid to use for a cooking utensil while they cooked calf fries on the branding iron burner.

He twisted and tightened the wire on a gate that was doubling as a hinge. He tightened a screw in the emasculators and popped open the lids on an assortment of things.

That amazing day of demonstration opened the eyes and the dresser drawers of those "real men with pocket knives." No longer did they break the good blades on their high dollar pocket knives prying and digging with them.

No longer did they have to stick their heads under the seat of the pickup to find that pair of pliers or a wrench they knew was there somewhere.

Today, it's standard equipment on more belts than not. The women wear them on a belt or carry them in their purses. You will see the daintiest and most delicate of well-coiffed, finely garbed ladies slip a Leatherman from their purse and go to work with it like she'd been doing it forever.

The list of uses is as varied as the number of tools all hooked up into that one handy dandy tool. There are stories of lives being saved, babies being birthed and legendary feats all because of a Leatherman.

Tomorrow when you strap yours on your hip, know it just might go down in history next to Colt and Smith and Wesson.

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