The old man's stick.


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Carl Levitian
March 12, 2014, 12:46 PM
My old man was a genuine piece of work.

He was a modest guy, low key and maybe the prototype of the gray man. I think he made a study of inconspicuous behavior and appearance, because he could blend in and get lost anywhere. Maybe a good thing in his line of work, that he never let on to his kids, exactly what kind of work he did. His story was, he was a government file clerk in one of the entities "downtown", Downtown being Washington D.C. where we lived when I was a kid. He'd disappear for periods, then return with very nice gifts for me and my sister from places like West Germany.

We had an apartment on the northern end of Blair Road, above where it turned into North Capital street, and while the neighborhood wasn't really bad, the bad neighborhood wasn't that far away. Dad eventually moved us out the the Maryland suburbs and a better area, but D.C was the place where I spent my formative years. It's also where I saw the use of a good stick.

Dad wasn't a gun guy, even though he had a little Colt .22 woodsman he was a good shot with. He didn't carry a gun, even though I think in those days, D.C. and Maryland hadn't turned into the liberal anti gun places yet. But a lot of times, when dad would take us kids to the zoo, or the Smithsonian museums' he'd be carrying a nice stout walking stick. Sometimes he had a flat blackjack in a back pocket, as they were not illegal in those days. The apartments we lived in were three story jobs, with an a dead end ally in back and apartments backing to the us on the other side of the alley. Mom had some family that had movers to the D.C. area for the post war boom in the job market, and an aunt and maternal grandmother lived in those other apartments. Often they would come over to visit or have dinner, and after dark, dad would way them over to their own apartment. But he went prepared.

JUst inside the coat closet door, he kept a sawn off length of shovel handle. It was cut to be about forearm length, and when dad walked our aunt and grand mom back across the alley, he'd put on his coat, and pick up his cut down shovel handle and escort the ladies. Nothing much happened, except once.

It was after dinner, and it had gotten dark, and dad went to do his evening escort duty. They all left the apartment, and we settled in and expected dad back in a little bit. But a few minutes after they all left, Aunt Julie and Grandma came back and told mom to call the police, dad was in a fight in the alley. Cops were called, and we went to the back bedroom where the second floor window looked right out over the alley between he two apartments. There was a common area where some people had planted some flowers and a small herb garden. By the light of the apartment windows, we could look down and see dad standing over two males laying on the ground. Aunt Julie and Grandma couldn't say much about what happened, other than they were confronted by these two guys with knives, demanding money. Dad told them to get back and swung his stick. As we watched, one of the men tried to getup and flee, but dad sacked him in the head and knocked him back down.

Flashing lights closed in while we watched, cops took over and dad handed one cop his stick. It took a while, they talked to dad, while the two guys were cuffed and tossed in a squad car. It seemed to take forever before dad came back up to the apartment with two cops who talked to at length at the kitchen table while mom made them some coffee. Somehow, my 8 year mind couldn't grasp how dad with a piece of cut down shovel handle took two young men armed with knives. Only later, when I was a bit older, did dad give me some insight into what can be done with a piece of wood.

Years later, dad took me into the woods, and showed how to use what he called snap strikes. I had a pocket knife he gave me, and he instructed me to cut a stick about my forearm length, and about the thickness of a industrial mop handle. Dad was always a knife carrier. He told me that if I had pants on, a pocket knife was to be in one of those pockets. Dad's own knife was a small Case two blade jack, a peanut. To him, it was a cutting tool, nothing more.

I once asked him about it, as I was beginning to feel the knife knut urging. I was 12 or 13, and a buddy had got one of those eye-talian James Dean switch blades. They were actually still legal in those days. Dad was openly scornful of a knife as a weapon. He called it a "punk's" weapon, but more important he said it lacked fight stopping power. Dad impressed me with how blunt force truma was a fight stopper, and cutting or stabbing someone was too slow. He was a big supporter of the "bash your enemy's" approach like the two punks in the alley with knives. The cut off shovel handle broke bones and made fighting on totally impossible.

It's been a bunch years since that night where dad took down two punks with knives, but life has re-enforced the lesson many times. My army service with pupil stick and riot stick training, my police service where we were trained with the strait night sticks, and my 'older age where I can get away with carrying a walking stick everywhere with me. And I can carry my stick anywhere, including court house and airports.

Maybe my old was a piece of work, but he seemed to know how to get by. He makes me thing of what Clint said in one movie; "there's nothing like a good piece of hickory."

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Deltaboy
March 12, 2014, 12:59 PM
Great Story Carl when my body is playing nice I carry an Ax handle the same size of your dad's stick. Never had to use it but I was raised in the same school of thought...smash and bash them into submission.

barnett
March 14, 2014, 06:19 PM
Carl, I always enjoy your posts. You are a wonderful storyteller.
Thanks.

aarondhgraham
March 14, 2014, 06:26 PM
As a young GI stationed in Korea,,,
We all took Karate lessons of some sort.

My instructor, Mr. Chan, would not teach us any weapons,,,
Except for the simple walking stick/cane.

His reasoning was that it was deadly enough for anyone's purpose,,,
And it was just about the only weapon one could always carry,,,
Imagine my surprise when I found that AF regs banned them.

But the techniques I learned panned out,,,
And I'm now old enough that a cane isn't unusual.

Aarond

.

Carl Levitian
March 15, 2014, 10:50 AM
[But the techniques I learned panned out,,,
And I'm now old enough that a cane isn't unusual.

Aarond]


Yeah, tell me about it!:D
http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5487/9710257215_4e212ca025_c.jpg

I made the discovery years ago, that old age isn't for the faint of heart.

Kingcreek
March 16, 2014, 09:46 AM
Great story. Can you explain what you mean by "forearm length"?
I make and carry walking sticks that are about elbow high or a little more. I use Osage orange, black locust, ash or hickory that I cut myself. I usually cap them with antler crown and add some copper or brass bands and a leather wrist strap. I've traveled with them and nobody ever gave me a second look. Security sometimes wants to X-ray my stick though.

Carl Levitian
March 16, 2014, 11:57 AM
[Great story. Can you explain what you mean by "forearm length"?
I make and carry walking sticks that are about elbow high or a little more. I use Osage orange, black locust, ash or hickory that I cut myself. I usually cap them with antler crown and add some copper or brass bands and a leather wrist strap. I've traveled with them and nobody ever gave me a second look. Security sometimes wants to X-ray my stick though.]

Sure. The length of the stick is from the inside crook of your elbow to the finger tips. I'm not really sure why dad picked this measurement, but it seems to work very very well. When I was on the Trinidad Colorado PD, we got our training up in Pueblo at the C.L.E.T.A. (Colorado Law Enforcement Training Academy) location for southern Colorado, we were trained in the koga stick. This was a strait baton like stick with no handle per se, but each end was like the other end. There were some strikes, but mostly it was a block and thrust weapon. But strangely enough, it was about the same size as my dad's cut off shovel handle.

I had to admit, that in close work like bars, it was a very very handy size. Just long enough to strike with, but short enough to get in close and use the two handed techniques to block, thrust, and ram with the ends for a devastating attack on stomach and throat areas. An end on ram into the solar plexus would leave the person down on the pavement in a fetal position gagging for breath. Not permanently injured, but out of the fight long enough to get the cuffs on them with no trouble.

I wish I could remember the name of the guy who taught us. Tony something. OUr head training officer was Sgt. Ralph Smith, of the Pueblo PD, and he was a great guy who knew a lot about surviving the streets.

I've made some o fmy own sticks, both walking and hiking. I use the old rod measurement. I read that the rod, as in "Thy rod and thy staff will comfort me" is the distance from the ground to the lower most rib. I've got a couple of heavy duty hornbeam hiking sticks with that measure meant. They seem handy in heavy woods and more closed in surroundings. I fly with any of my sticks, and all they do at the airport is x-ray them to see if they are hiding anything inside. They always had them right back to me.

ChaoSS
March 16, 2014, 12:32 PM
Clubs are illegal here in California. I drive a truck for a living, and I keep a tire thumper in the truck (that I actually use as a tire thumper) and I've hit myself with it, it's amazing how much that thing hurts with a good thwack. I'd hate to feel what it felt like with a really good strike.

Carl Levitian
March 16, 2014, 05:51 PM
"Clubs are illegal here in California. I drive a truck for a living, and I keep a tire thumper in the truck (that I actually use as a tire thumper) and I've hit myself with it, it's amazing how much that thing hurts with a good thwack. I'd hate to feel what it felt like with a really good strike."
___________

But what is a club?

There's the sticky wicket, anything can be pressed into service as a good club/stick. That's the beauty of the thing, any innocent object can be used with good effect. Cane/stick, if out and about, fire place poker if in your living room, ball peen hammer or crow bar if in your basement. If sitting in bar had ing a cold one, a beer pitcher will do as will a pool stick, or a rung kicked out of a bar stool if you don't want to use the whole bar stool.

YOur imagination is your only limit as to what you can use to inflict serious injury on your attacker. I once watched our scout master beat the living daylights out of a big bully wityh a piece of broomstick he broke off. The would-be tough guy was taller and wider than our scout master, but the foot and a half of broomstick made all the difference.

Too many people go through life with blinders on.

Dirty Bob
March 17, 2014, 12:12 AM
Awesome story, Carl!

I've re-told your Panera Bread story multiple times, also. Your father sounds like a very good man, and one of those people that Clint Eastwood was referring to in "Gran Torino."

Ever notice how you come across somebody once in a while you shouldn't have [bleep] with?

Anyone looking for some simple short stick techniques might take a look at John Styer's classic: Cold Steel (http://www.amazon.com/Cold-Steel-John-Styers/dp/087364025X/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_pap?ie=UTF8&qid=1395025681&sr=8-1&keywords=cold+steel+john+styers). Styers mentioned a 22-inch stick as typical for what he was teaching.

For a cane, I have a very stout hickory stock cane, bought for about $16 at the feed store. My favorite staff is a crook-top hickory staff, that also came from the local feed store. You can do vicious things with that hook. I've given sturdy crook-top canes to members of the family who are teachers -- to keep in their classrooms. If the school goes into lockdown, at least they'll have something to defend their students if a goblin breaks into their classroom. In peaceful times, the cane is useful for reaching items from high shelves.

The Clint Eastwood quote about hickory, by the way, is from the excellent "Pale Rider."

All my best,
Dirty Bob

ICE1210
March 17, 2014, 02:27 AM
Hey dude, I get the feeling your Dad wasn't a file clerk.

blindhari
March 17, 2014, 03:02 AM
There are all different types of things to call a stick. I grew up in rural California during the 50's. About 1961 a girl I knew was walking home from High school, freshman, and was accosted by two men along Appian way. Her father had made her a tennis racquet holder back pack type thing. At 5' nothing and 110 lbs she put both men in the hospital and ruined a nice gut strung wood tennis racquet. In 1969 I met her again over at Diablo College, she was still carrying a tennis racquet. This time it was metal and strung with wire. She told me then she never had really played tennis but that her father had been a Marine and insisted she learned to use it for defense. It ain't what you use, it's how you use it.

blindhari

Madcap_Magician
March 17, 2014, 11:52 AM
Hey dude, I get the feeling your Dad wasn't a file clerk.

This.

Carl, it's always great reading your story posts!

oldbear
March 17, 2014, 01:33 PM
Carl, great story. It sounds as if you Dad was quite a guy. "Speak softly and carry a big stick." Someone to be proud of.

craftsman
March 18, 2014, 05:01 PM
For $13 + shipping http://www.enasco.com/product/C07434N 1-1/8 thick octagonal oak. Meant for hog farmers - looks simple, will go through Airport security if you look like you need it.

Deltaboy
March 19, 2014, 11:05 PM
For $13 + shipping http://www.enasco.com/product/C07434N 1-1/8 thick octagonal oak. Meant for hog farmers - looks simple, will go through Airport security if you look like you need it.
Those canes are Well thought of around here.

MutinousDoug
March 19, 2014, 11:52 PM
My bet would be those canes are hickory but Hey?, what do I know? I have a similar one cut and trimmed to my requirements. It's hickory.

Marlin 45 carbine
March 20, 2014, 12:20 AM
a shillelagh or 'cudgel' comes to mind was your dad Irish?

Carl Levitian
March 20, 2014, 10:54 AM
"a shillelagh or 'cudgel' comes to mind was your dad Irish?"

As Paddy's pig, Guinness stout, and Harris tweed's. Dad came to this country as a small boy when grandpa and clan left the old country in the early 1920's. Granddad was very bitter at how the 1916 rebellion came out, and then they killed Michael Collins, so he chose to leave. They came from a fishing town called Ballycastle on the west coast, and granddad was a cod fisherman. They had some other family that came, and ended up on the Chesapeake Bay as working watermen, so that's how we ended up on the Chesapeake. It was after WW2 that dad moved to Washington D.C. for his job with the Government.

Dad was a great believer in Teddy's "speak softly and carry a big stick".
http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7309/9523721754_6d9b9fdd46_c.jpg
The one second from the right is a real blackthorn from the old country.

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7346/9523707134_4959d01eed_c.jpg
Close up of what dad called "they business end of the stick."

Deltaboy
March 21, 2014, 12:24 AM
Wonderful blackthorn .

aarondhgraham
March 21, 2014, 04:45 PM
Great looking dog there Carl,,,
Those Corgi dogs are just fine looking animals.

Aarond

.

Carl Levitian
March 21, 2014, 05:59 PM
Thank you, Aarond. She's a real valued member of the family, and very little gets by those radar ears. Here she is in her "Westminster pose".

Cadigan Corgi's are way more laid back than the smaller Pembroke's.

http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3732/13289175873_2092368e8c_c.jpg

aarondhgraham
March 21, 2014, 06:28 PM
Many years ago,,,
I dated a girl whose Mom raised Corgi dogs.

I once walked around to their back yard,,,
And was caught in a Corgi Stampede.

At least a dozen of those little guys all charged me at once,,,
It took me by surprise but it was one of the funniest things I've ever witnessed.

Like something out of a Warner brothers cartoon.

Love those Corgi dogs.

Aarond

.

Marlin 45 carbine
March 21, 2014, 09:09 PM
I figured it.
nice briar knot there.
Ohh - Happy St Patys Day.

Deltaboy
March 22, 2014, 06:41 PM
Your a dignified looking Gentleman Carl.

Deltaboy
April 23, 2014, 11:37 PM
Great story Carl.

lefty60
April 24, 2014, 12:46 AM
Great story! As for myself, I am old and gimped enough to need a cane. Worse yet it's gotta be light.:cuss:

'Course I bet that I have had enough years of straight baton training/use to make a would be attacker regret his actions.:neener:

Us old crippled guys got a bad attitude and see no reason not to fight.:D:D

Carl Levitian
April 24, 2014, 11:11 AM
Great story! As for myself, I am old and gimped enough to need a cane. Worse yet it's gotta be light.
------------------------------------


That's okay lefty, a light stick makes a fast handling tool. just don't use it as a club, but as a quick spear. It plays heck with the solar plexus and throat. Not good on eyes either!:D

Deltaboy
April 25, 2014, 09:13 PM
Very Wittie Carl. I read before a British officer nearly took the head off some street punk in India with a rattan cane. Those light one can be nasty.

Dirty Bob
April 28, 2014, 12:03 AM
I have a rattan cane and can attest to its speed. I see it more for pokes or for two-hand thrusts capable of tranferring much of my body weight into an area an inch in diameter. Ouch. It's also good for hooking and rips/throws.

Dirty Bob

Deltaboy
May 6, 2014, 09:50 PM
I love a good stick.

Jack Worf
May 8, 2014, 06:10 PM
Entertaining story. Thank you.

As for applicability, I'd refer to the Italians. They know a thing or two about canes. The Irish do probably too.

Personally, I stick to Filipino fighting arts and hope that I'll be able to transfer my skills to canes, once I reach my Golden Age.

bish0p
May 10, 2014, 04:54 AM
Personally, I stick to Filipino fighting arts and hope that I'll be able to transfer my skills to canes, once I reach my Golden Age.

Eskrima is very handy.

Carl Levitian
May 10, 2014, 10:56 AM
That's the beauty of a stick, Jack. It not only transfers to a cane in your golden years, but a stick can be improvised from a very wide variety of objects that can be found almost anywhere.

A light fast rattan cane is a wicked defense tool when used right. The high velocity it strikes with lays open flesh like a knife. It will break the bones in the back of a hand, or fingers, making that hand non functional. And a cane will go right through security at both airports and courthouses.

Stick's are great to have with you.

hso
May 11, 2014, 07:38 AM
I wouldn't "hope" those skills transfer some day, but practice with the cane now as well to ensure the skills from FMA work with the cane (most do, others require modification, and some don't due to the greater length).

Carl Levitian
May 11, 2014, 12:07 PM
"I have a rattan cane and can attest to its speed. I see it more for pokes or for two-hand thrusts capable of tranferring much of my body weight into an area an inch in diameter. Ouch. It's also good for hooking and rips/throws.

Dirty Bob"


And there is the point that so many folks fail to see, to use a bad pun. The cane is not for use as a club, but is a very very effective short two handed spear. The old kendo rule is 'thrust to the soft and cut to the hard', and using the small end of the cane to thrust like a spear into the throat, stomach, and groin area is super effective for inflicting deep truma. The ends of a cane/walking stick are more useful than the shaft in-between, and such practice lets the stick be used in tight spaces like hallways or, God forbid, a plane isle.

krupparms
May 11, 2014, 02:02 PM
I learned about sticks when I was a boy. After I became a S.P.in the USAF we were give riot batons & taught to use them! After I got out of the A.F. I went to work for a company that needed security & someone to teach some of their people about security. Most of them could not carry anything other than a pocketknife & a walking stick or cane. None of the personal got injured even though there were confrotations . The sticks worked fine! One guy had to improvise one evening & used the magazine he was reading! He rolled it up & used it to good effect by jabbing the bad guy in the face & SP! He went down & the security guy secured him! The bad guy had a knife he never got the chance to use! Use your imagination! Almost any object can be used as long as you know how to use it! And fight like your life depends on it! IT WILL!

Jack Worf
May 11, 2014, 05:39 PM
The ends of a cane/walking stick are more useful than the shaft in-between

I can't actually refute nor contradict that. However, I've struck down more men with the shaft than with the butt. Kind of a telling-point for me.

Crystallographer
May 11, 2014, 08:21 PM
Geezerwhacki, the Old Fart's fighting art.... The ferrule of a cane used against the other guy's instep doesn't usually take your full weight before he decides to back off....

Derry 1946
May 11, 2014, 08:31 PM
There's also the ancient stick fighting art of Iscrima. It's similar to Escrima, but you throw your stick at the assailant, scream, and run (or hobble briskly) away.

harmie
June 11, 2014, 08:00 PM
I LOVE your story. You should be a writer-and probably are. But the story carries me far away to my youth. My Dad was born (I was looking at his Birth Certificate) in 1901. He always had moonshine. He said that they made it to sell or trade for the things they couldn't grow when he was growing up. He used to have gallon jugs-Milk came in them, and they had long necks and with a finger hole built in. He tried to keep about 12-15 gallons at all times!
We lived in South West Virginia in the Appalachian Mountains and were very poor but I didn't know it! I was well into school before I realized we were poor!
Dad gave me a pocket knife when I was a child. I carried it to school and every where else and I do until this day! The thing I do without thought is feel for my knife to be sure it's there! He taught us safety with knifes and guns as small children. No one around could out shoot him. Every one brought a newly acquired used gun for Dad to shoot. They went by how his grouping came out as to keep it or trade it!
Every Sunday was trade day at our house. People would come from all over and it was like a gun show, swapping, trading, selling, buying guns and knifes were the most common items, but nothing was ruled out.
Just walk softly and carry a big STICK!

Deltaboy
June 12, 2014, 11:29 AM
Carl's stories warm.my heart.

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