The Cabbage Knife; A family heirloom with a story

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog cabbage knifeThis is the cabbage knife Paul Katrencik brought to show me after a speaking engagement. Photo by Doug OsterPaul Katrencik walked up to me after a speaking engagement with a long metal knife which was handmade by his grandfather.

As a child he would see the tool around but never really knew what it was for.

One day, he watched as his father, Rudolph "Row" Katrencik, was in the garden cutting cabbage with the curved blade of the knife.

His father has since passed and Paul has bought the house where they lived together. He found the knife and held it in his hand, remembering his father's love of gardening.

As a child, Paul shared that love. His father made sure he had a small garden plot where the two could get their hands dirty together.

His dad grew tomatoes, peppers, carrots, garlic, broccoli, cabbage of course and more. At the end of the season as frost loomed, he would lay plywood on a bed of lettuce. During a thaw he would just lift the wood and pick the greens.

"Row" worked at J&L Steel and used some of the byproducts from the mill as a soil conditioner when planting tomatoes. He would go out into the garden with a yardstick and mark his planting holes. Then dig deep with a post hole digger and fill the planting hole with rinsed off coke from the mill along with compost. The coke was high nitrogen and "Row" had an amazing garden each year.

Paul has fond memories of caring for chickens and the dill which sprouted everywhere in his father's garden.

He couldn't really explain why he kept the knife, or why it meant so much to him, but it was pretty obvious to me the tool connects him with his father and another era. This knife, made with his grandfather's hands is more than just for cutting's a family heirloom.

When asked if Paul was going to resurrect his father's garden, he paused, smiled and said "I'm going to try."

Blog Cabbage knife2Rudolph "Row" Katrencik shows off one of his beautiful cabbage heads, cut with the handmade knife which is now a family heirloom.


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