Reply to "Phone Call From Randall"

Via the NYT:

April 6, 1997
My Favorite Store: Randall Made Knives

By Padgett Powell

In a vestigial orange grove in Orlando, Fla., is a converted cinder-block ranch-style house, now the factory and shop for Randall Made Knives, arguably the best -- handmade knives in the world.

Let us hazard that you do not need or want a best-known, maybe best handmade knife in the world. You merely want to see what all the flibber is about, maybe talk to Gary Randall, the proprietor, who bought this 60-year-old business from his father, Bo.

And something happens. You are in the presence of the unavoidably authentic. In a glass counter are gleaming things with elegant lines, which rather than suggesting weapons or tools of carnage fairly resonate with a solid, humming, jeweled integrity. This must be what it's like to be a bride in Tiffany's, you think, faintly out of breath and cotton-mouthy. A man appears who lets you handle the knives. He identifies them as to model number (there are 50 models) but otherwise says nothing salesmanlike. He does not have to. He does not, you eerily gather, even want to. You may not, in his view, you more eerily gather, qualify to own one of these things, somewhat as you might not qualify to own a Thoroughbred horse.

You leave with not one but three knives you do not need but must have -- the second a purer excess than the first, the third for your father-in-law and insisted upon by your 9-year-old daughter, also breathless in the face of this hard beauty. Your Visa receipt for $614.8O is in your happy pocket; the knives and their sheaths, wrapped up in white butcher's paper like sausages, lie on the car seat like diminutive but full citizens, emanating strong vapors of leather and tool steel and the promise of that which will not fail. Invincibility is in the air. You stop the car on your way off the property, get out and pick some oranges. No one will contest you. ''When Grampa dies,'' your daughter says, ''can I have his knife?''


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