Saturday, November 15, 2008

wanna be happy? start doing hatchet jobs.

Hard to believe, but roving knife-grinders still exist in New York, giving you the opportunity (if you've got a street-facing apartment and can hear the clangs) to gather your Wusthofs and hurry down to the street (probably giving your neighbors a fright in the elevator) and have them restored to their glittering, fresh-from-Williams-Sonoma state while u wait.

I always seem to miss Del Re when he makes his rounds. His truck appears on no particular schedule. He doesn't make appointments. According to a New York Times profile (of course, he'd have a New York Times profile): "I'm like the fisherman. He doesn't make an appointment with the fish."

His unfettered work life contrasts sharply with his former job as Wall Street commodities trader. The firm he was working for went bust in the 1987 crash and, to support his family on Staten Island, he bought a truck from his retiring uncle and gladly threw off his suit and commute and has been working without a dayplanner ever since.

His only advertising (isn't it refreshing?) are illustrations on his truck that look like they were painted by Grandma Moses, announcing that he services not just your knives, but your scissors, your hatchet, your ice skates, your lawnmower (lawnmower?)

Today, I was sorry to see him driving away, just when I was tempted to run up to the apartment and haul out my butcher block full of dullards. But later, trawling the web for info about him before writing this, I came across conflicting assessments of his work.

So, given the need for cuts these days (sorry), maybe instead I'll finally learn how to sharpen a knife myself.


Anonymous said...

Those stones that come with a knife set are meant to hone a blade, NOT sharpen it. America's Test Kitchen gave a $9.95 AccuSharp it's recommendation over whetstones and the like. Use a very light touch and it perfectly sharpens all 3 angles at once.

I've gotta run, the ragman is in the neighborhood.

Mark Green said...

I've always loved this about New York too. And if you're lucky, you'll find an italian ice vendor who still shaves the ice from a block.

I wonder if the paintings on his truck are by the guy who does store windows in Astoria? They had a piece on him in the City section some years back.

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

@auntie Where the heck are you? Miss you these days. Still haggling with the ragman, I suppose?

@Mark Green Shaved ice from a block. There's! a memory for native New Yorkers. Don't know about the truck illustrator, but love his work. Looks like he studied with Grandma Moses.