Change and its puzzling implications

To the Editor:

I can’t remember ever having written a letter to a newspaper since I had a part time copywriter job for the Bethlehem Globe Times while in college. Should you see fit to use the following, feel free to doctor it up a bit and add a heading.

In 1935, I was 10 years old, in fifth grade, and became a Cub Scout. For Christmas, my uncle gave me a Boy Scout pocket knife. It had a blade, a can opener, a hole puncher, and a combination bottle opener/screwdriver. Many of my friends carried similar items, which were quite useful on camping trips. On our school playground, we often played a game called Territory, throwing the blade into the ground to divide a large square.

I still have that knife, frequently use its blade, sharpened many times, for little jobs around the house.

In 1968, our daughter was 11 in fifth grade and a Girl Scout, when I gave her a similar, but smaller and green, pocket knife. When she grew up and left our home, it stayed, but it is here for her any time she wants it. She never got into any trouble for carrying it.

True, the story in the November 23 Martha’s Vineyard Times involved a paring knife blade — not smart — but it prompts the question, What has happened during the intervening years since the 1930s and 1960s? What might happen to a fourth or fifth grade kid in the Chilmark School today if they did what parents, teachers, and our friends, the police, considered quite normal back then?

One would hope the mistake of this youngster won’t follow him, to the detriment of his future academic career, as it has other children in even less-published circumstances.

Tom Rivers

Chilmark