It was the best of knives, it was the worst of ways to lose a knife…
So, they other day I reposted my old tale about the excellence in action that was George Gibson’s Menswear in Athens, Georgia. See: Fall of the House of Gibson.
A reader emailed me with a few questions and some information about the old shop. Therein, he mentioned that he still has a pocket knife he purchased about twenty years ago. That got my brain working. I replied that I too had once owned a knife from Gibson’s.
It was an awesome little work of art. In short, it was perfect and my favorite blade of all time. I own A LOT of knives. But none, none of them, compare to that little, 2 1/2 inch bladed gem.
For reasons I will soon disclose I cannot attach a picture. Nor can I find one on the web! (So maybe the AI takeover has a little ways to go?) Anyway, it was a small, simple knife, all steel construction, with a plain lock on the back (top) of the handle. It would have been ordinary, like so many good Bucks, etc. What set it apart were the stamps.
The handle, one side, has inlaid with a short series of New Zealand postage stamps. They each featured the picture of a trout. I cannot remember for the life of me exactly which stamp it was. I can’t even recall the maker – Svord?? maybe? Dunno… I cannot remember how much it cost, circa 1997, either. I imagine it was reasonable but not cheap – maybe $50-100. I do remember the stamps.
The stamp was likely this one:
It could have been this:
It could have been a similar stamp. Seeing these pictures you get the picture no doubt. It was a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.
And I lost it…
It had to be at the great institution that is Tweetsie Railroad, of which I have also previously raved, here.
In fact, I’m confident that my knife is probably still in the gravel beneath the Tilt-A-Whirl in the Country Fair section of the park. Tweetsie says, “Spin and spin, until this ride leaves you breathless and laughing.” You’ll certainly laugh until you realize that your knife flew out of your pocket while your child squealed with glee… I cursed over the matter. Sadly, I missed my knife, fish and all, only after I left and park closed.
I suppose that, if it is still there, then I could conceivably recover it. I imagine the elements these past, what – ten years? – have not been to kind. Is it better to let it go? Probably.
If you happen to read this, work in maintenance at Tweetsie, clean out under the Tilt-A-Whirl, and find the above-described knife, then please drop me an email.
The good news is that I got to, here, link together two of my favorite stories and places. Plus I got to share with you the reconstructed, approximated beauty of the blade.
Maybe Ebay has one. Gotta run.
*Safety note: Please check your pockets when attending fast-moving centripetal amusement rides. Laugh breathlessly.
To me and a few people I know, a properly cooked steak is one of life’s great luxuries. Cooked perfectly and it becomes almost a transcendental experience.
This is a continuation of my haphazard series on better businesses. It’s also a direct follow-up to my story about the great Tweetsie Railroad. Read that one if you haven’t before. As an aside and a testament to my snail-like pace of production, I started both of these articles some three years ago.
Let me tell you a tale. Usually in the fall I crave a mountain getaway. I like cool clean air, free-flowing water, and smaller numbers of people. The mountains feel more like fall that the rest of the South; it’s like the New England experience without the 16 hour drive or the hassle of Logan.
It’s a short drive and even makes a good day trip. There are suitable mountains in Georgia and Tennessee but this story involves those of North Carolina. On a hypothetical late-October day we might start early at Tweetsie. My daughter loves the place just as much as I did when I was her age and younger. As I written, it is exactly the same place today as it was in the 1970s.
After a fun day of train rides and funnel cakes finding a hotel is a must (for an overnight stay). I’ve tried the cabins and B&Bs. They’re great. The old … “family fun” motels I remember from my youth are still there – some of them. Sadly, they haven’t seen much maintenance or cleaning in the interim. For this story I will recommend the Holiday Inn Express right on U.S. 321 in Boone.
The Express is clean and modern and reasonably priced. The rooms feature balconies, fireplaces, and hot-tubs. Best of all it is right across the street from The Peddler Steakhouse of Boone.
There are other Peddlers out there, some of which are related to mine. Boone’s is the best. In fact, I call it the best steakhouse in the world. I haven’t been to them all but the Peddler puts to shame many of fancier variety and higher prices.
The restaurant is cozy. There’s a definite 70s feel in the darkness, the paneling, and the overall ambiance. There’s a little waiting room when you first walk in. Get there early as they are frequently busy. If you have to wait, order a drink and enjoy the good company.
Much of the staff are cute co-eds (Boone being a college town). That never hurts. Everyone is efficient and helpful. Once you’re seated the manager wheels around a wooden cart with the day’s best selection of meats. He offers assistance in ordering, cooking, everything. And I’ve heard him refuse an order because he thought the requested meat wasn’t up to Peddler standards. Phenomenal.
The menu is varied and I have sampled this and that. However, it’s a steakhouse and then and there I go all the way. I suggest the 10 oz. Fillet Mignon. Your steak will be grilled to order over an open fire by expert chefs. I say get it medium rare. I hold this is the best steak in the world, bar none. Forget a knife. Honestly you don’t even need teeth. Every filet I have ever had there has been 100% perfect. The price as of this writing is $34.95, a bargain for a priceless taste.
This picture really does not do justice. The Peddler.
As for sides I usual go with a sweet potato. This is really an afterthought. Nothing can compare, compliment, or detract from a Peddler steak. There’s also a full service salad bar of which you should partake. For $10.95 you can have greens, soups, fresh bread, and even caviar. Just save room for the steak.
The Peddler boasts an impressive wine selection. The one and only bone I have to pick is with the beers offered. They have all the usual American non-beers and a healthy number of real beers. It’s just that they could up the potential steak-pairing darks, bitters, and stouts. I generally have a Newcastle or a Pete’s Wicked Brown. This is a small imperfection, easily overlooked.
The women of my life say the desserts are excellent. I’ve never had one as, like I’ve said, there is nothing suitable to complement these steaks.
Boone is full of great places to eat. There is though only one Peddler. It’s simply the best.
After a perfect meal I like to float back to the hotel and enjoy a good cigar on the balcony. I’ve even witnessed an autumn snow with my smoke. If your now an aficionado, the hot-tub might be your thing. By the way, this scenario would work well in winter and a ski trip.
I don’t recommend many eateries; the Peddler is just in a class by itself. If you’ll excuse me, I have to drive to Boone now. High country perfection calls…
I have several burning hot and trenchant columns underway but this morning I figured they could wait. Christmas is almost here and this short post will brighten your day and lighten your heart – positive material for a crazed world. It has nothing to do with law, government, or any political or economic topics. It’s a the story about a great American business and tradition.
When it chances to rain I sometimes don a high-quality, hooded raincoat emblazoned with a “12” logo patch. People occasionally inquire as to the meaning and origin of the garment. I love telling the tale.
Tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, about halfway between Blowing Rock and Boone, just off U.S. 321, there is the most remarkable hideaway. There one will find a tiny, tiny little (very small) amusement park on the side of a mountain.
Disney World it most certainly is not (praise God). It is a chapter from an older, homier book of Americana. It may be the ultimate roadside destination, a place to shame South of the Border or Wall Drug. Tweetsie Railroad is one of my absolute favorite places anywhere. Time stands still in the mountains.
Tweetsie started in the 1950s and, instantly finding perfection, hasn’t changed. I first went there in the very late seventies and was awed. Many years later, when my daughter was a tiny tot, we decided to visit the park for a family getaway. I was over-awed this time. Tweetsie was (and is) the only place from my childhood that is exactly the same as I remembered it from my youth. It literally coverts you into a little kid again. More magical than any kingdom.
The name from crafted from the defunct East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad. Tweetsie is also the name of old No. 12, the park’s flagship steam locomotive. Yes, they have real, full-size, and fully functional trains. No. 190, The Yukon Queen, puffs along on alternate days. The trains are the preeminent attractions.
No. 12 in station.
All day long these fire-breathing beasts of iron and steel haul delighted families around the mountain. The passenger cars are manned by cowboys. About a third of the way around the train stops at a little village. The cowboys get off and engage in gunplay. Sometimes it’s the result of a robbery. Later the show stops at a fort where another battle unfolds against a tribe of hostile yet inept Indians. Cowboys and Indians in the 21st Century. The fun is neither political nor correct, yet fun it is.
A chairlift carries patrons to the top of Miner’s Mountain. There, and down below, are a variety of shows, acts, rides and entertainment. Up top the summit is ringed by a smaller train ride. The smaller train enters a tunnel and stops so folks can watch mice ride around on an even smaller train. A train within a train within a train.
Behind the mine tunnel is a petting zoo filled with animals. Good, inexpensive carnival food abounds. Midway up the mountain is an arcade, a ferris wheel and a race track. Special occasions are common, including dog shows and Thomas the Tank Train. Thomas is there in the late spring: full size too. He’s propelled by No. 12 at Mr. Tophat’s request.
Tweetsie is open from early April through Halloween. Tickets are $44 for adults and $28 for children (toddlers enter for free). Season passes are $95 an $65, respectively.
Fun for all ages.
Fall is, in my opinion, the best time to visit. The scenery is perfect and the temperature is always ten to twenty degrees cooler than the low lands. The park is open at night around Halloween for the Haunted Train experience.
This is truly an old-fashioned family friendly place. There’s something for everyone. I have been many times during different seasons and always had a grand time. The type of thuggery and foolishness too common these days is simply not tolerated. I’ve never seen anyone out of line. I suspect the cowboys would shoot any hooligans.
Accommodations, from rustic cabins to modern hotels are all over within a ten-mile radius. Boone and Blowing Rock offer numerous other fantastic activities. Everything up there is clean, safe, refreshing and jolly. The smell of wood fires, pumpkins and apples permeates the air. The sounds are of laughter, wind in the trees, and falling water.
Tweetsie even boasts a number of convenient Cigar smoking locations. The towns are also Cigar friendly. Boone hosts a few small tobacconists while the gas station in Blowing Rock has a well stocked Humidor and a decent wine selection. Good food and ale is available in plenty. Blowing Rock even has a local brewery. The place to eat at is The Peddler Steakhouse. They have the finest beef and fare and are operated by attractive co-eds from App State.
Plan a trip if you can. Again, I really recommend the fall. Do be mindful of Appalachian State home football games on fall Saturdays. Even on game weekends early planning will provide a room reservation. I think the place would even benefit the modern micro-aggresion obsessed set. Initially, duct tape could ensure they don’t complain about the cowboys and Indians. The tape could be removed when they start laughing along with the normies. Highland therapy for the soul. Perfection incarnate. Plan a visit soon.