Saturday, February 21, 2009

The special knife.

I have collected obsidian points on a fairly small scale, both ancient and modern made. My interest took hold when I was just a small boy deer hunting with my family, in the Heaven that was Monache, in the Southern Sierra. I learned to make small arrowheads of glass and flint and have enjoyed the hobby all my life. Eventually I met others that shared my interest in flintknapping and became part of an ever-growing subculture. Knappers have their own newsletters, websites, books stores and so on. An anthropologist, Dr. John Whitaker, even penned a book about us.

When I was just a kid, I can remember the news showing death tolls in Viet Nam, it was shocking to me, an I can remember when one of the neighbor kids came up on the list. He lived down the street; he was a snake collector and used to take delight in scaring us kids by caring his favorite snake around the hood. At the time there was another young soldier fighting over there whom later became a good friend of mine, Ross Dieffenbaucher .

Ross was an avid hunter, some say obsessed! I am proud to say I have entered the field of hunt with Ross several times and he indeed lived up to his nick name “Rambo”. Ross was one of those folks that would drop whatever he was doing and come and give you a hand if you need one. I remember onetime I bought my wife an oak book case with a glass door , it took three fellows at the shop some heavy grunts to get that sucker in my truck, I called Ross to help me unload the thing at home, to my surprise, Ross was in my drive-way awaiting my arrival when I turned on my street. I got out of my truck and was met by Ross’s booming voice and hearty laugh. You could hear Ross laugh a mile away! I went to open the front door and when I turned around Ross had the thing in a bear hug and was single handly haulin' it in.

I worked with Ross for many years and we spend every morning, five or six days a week, getting ready for our days duties and we related our day’s trials to each afternoon before heading home. Ross had done his time here at work and was getting ready for retirement. H bought a nice Dodge truck from a salvage vendor and had fixed it up very nicely and painted it competition yellow.

He was getting ready to sell his Bakersfield home and move to a ranch in the wilds of Oregon. One day he said to me; “Ray ya know I always wanted one of them red and black obsidian knives with the antler handle, make me one fer my retirement”, I of course said Ok! I set out on a quest for the perfect stone, it was getting near and I had yet to find it. One afternoon I stopped in to see my friend Roy at Rosie’ s Rock Shop on 19th St. I was telling Roy about the knife I planned to make and he paused “just a dog gone minute Ray” , Roy went into the back room and came back with a fiery red piece of mahogany obsidian with lighting shapes of black streaking through it. I traded Roy some arrowheads I had chipped for the rock and was headed home.

One of my downfalls is that I am very sloppy and inpatient with the way I proceed on a lot of matters, (writing) especially my flintknapping. This time I took my time and carefully crafted a beautiful blade, well planned out, perfect in symmetric and pattern. I aligned the flake scar patterns to enhance the natural colors and patterns of the stone.
I scanned the many deer antler racks dangling precariously from my garage walls until I found the perfect handle. I took the antler and carefully cut and trimmed the perfect handle. I inserted the blade carefully in the handle with some tar and the knife was complete.

The day came for Ross’s retirement party and I was gitty as a school boy waiting for him to open the gift I had so carefully wrapped. Ross was in charge of the barbeque, as always and the air was filled with wood smoke and Ross’s infectous laughter. There were quite a few folks there at the party we were having quite a time there at the park. Finely Ross was opening his gifts and he picked up the neatly rapped little box I had so carefully coveted for so long, “I know what I hope this is”, said Ross with a smile. He carefully opened the box and slid out the knife. He loved the knife and we shared a moment of elation. I was so proud of having pleased the one whom had done so much for me over the years I was intoxicated with pride. Ross sat up on his haunches and boasted about my flintknapping hobby for what seemed like an eternity and I was puffed up like a banty rooster.

The special knife.

After Ross retired I didn’t see him much, we did a bow hunt one week end and hunted tarantulas in Lost Hills one Saturday for a pet for my son. He brought a fine jasper arrowhead over on Thursday night, he had found it when he was out bow hunting that day, it was the first arrowhead he had found and he was excited to share it with me.
The next morning, early before work I got a strange call from my boss at work. He paused at first, and then said; “Ray I got some bad news, Ross passed away last night”. I was beside myself with grief, I could not help but reflect on all the years he worked and all the planning he did for the retirement he will not enjoy.

In the next day or two I called Ross’s wife and we shared our sorrow. The next day she called, she was making the final arrangements, do you have anything you want to say or do for Ross? My thoughts immediately went to the red obsidian knife that Ross and I cherished so much. A day or two later I was pole bearer at Ross’s funeral. As we carefully sat his coffin down on the ceremonial pedestal, a military salute shot their riffles high in the air. I shared one last silent prayer with my friend Ross. Ross rests in piece beneath the hills he loved so well, his special knife lies there with him forever by his side.

The Bakersfield Californian
Dieffenbaucher, Roswell Fisher
1942 - 2005

Roswell Fisher Dieffenbaucher
Services: Mon., Nov. 28, 2 p.m.

Graveside services will be held for Roswell "Ross" Fisher Dieffenbaucher at
Hillcrest Memorial Park on Monday, November 28, 2005, 2:00 p.m. Ross was born
in Taft, California on June 19, 1942 and passed away unexpectedly on Sunday,
November 20th of a brain aneurysm. He had attended local schools and received
an Associate of Arts Degree from Bakersfield College. He served in the U.S.
Army for five years and was a Vietnam Veteran. He retired in 2003 after 27
years as a Senior Auto Estimator. Ross is survived
by his wife of thirty-seven years, Judy Dieffenbaucher and a daughter, Amy
Dieffenbaucher of Bakersfield; his mother, Frances Creery, sister, Marie
Dieffenbaucher, and nephew, Clint Quinney, of San Luis Obispo; his brother-in-
law, Ed Reed and wife, Patty, nephew, Mike Reed and wife, Becky, niece,
Michelle Kachelhoffer and husband, Brian, great-nephews, Jake Duncan, Bryce
Reed, Brock Reed; step-niece, Leah Klein and step-nephew, James Craig, all of
Bakersfield. Ross was preceded in death by his father, Roswell Dieffenbaucher
Sr., sister, Gail Dieffenbaucher, and father-in-law, Buel Reed. Rosss
boisterous voice and hearty laugh will be missed by all who knew him. He was a
friend to all and knew no stranger. He was a lover of the outdoors and an
expert archer, known to have shot a pheasant flying through the air. He was an
avid bow hunter of bear, wild boar, and deer. He enjoyed his hunting trips to
Colorado and Utah for deer and elk and already experienced a successful fall
bird season this year near home. He was known for his skill in taxidermy and
his love for the ocean while fishing aboard his boat, Grumpy Old Men. Ross was
well respected for holding a black belt in Karate. He also enjoyed restoring
antique clocks and watches and was a member of the Golden Empire, Chapter 97
National Association of Watch and Clock Club. He will be greatly missed by all
who knew him. No visitation is scheduled. A reception will follow at the home
of Paul and Claudia Milazzo, 5601 Georgia Drive, Bakersfield, CA 93308.

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