Michael Krein and Tom Burch—er, Make That Michael Burch and Tom Krein


For the record: that is Michael Burch at top and Tom Krein below him. (Krein photo by Mike Searson)

    Two of the most important things about a person are his/her name and likeness. As Blade Magazine Cutlery Hall-Of-Fame© member Bruce Voyles stresses, “I don’t care what they say about me as long as they spell my name right.”

    A person’s likeness is equally—some might even argue more—important than his/her name. All of which came crashing down on me on page 42 of the April BLADE®.

    On that page is the likeness of knifemaker Tom Krein. Only problem is, the caption identifies him as maker Michael Burch. The knife on the page is by Michael and, for some reason I cannot quite fathom, I gave instructions for our graphic designer to insert the likeness of Tom with the knife, thinking it was Michael’s likeness. I know Tom when I see him and I know Michael when I see him. Again, I can’t explain my mistake.

    I could blame it on Mom. I have two sisters, Chris and Juli, and a brother, Pat, and, for as long as I can remember, Mom has often called each of us a smorgasbord combo of all four. “Uh, Chris-Juli-Pat-Steve,” she goes through a checklist of all four names before finally arriving at mine, “tuck your shirt in, stand up straight,” etc. On the other hand, she has never mistaken me/my picture for any of my siblings/their likenesses (though on more than one occasion during my misspent youth she made me wish she had).

    Similarly, at last year’s BLADE Show I saw Gavin Hawk, talented knifemaking son of talented knifemaking father Grant, walking into the show, and for some reason I called him Grant. “That’s Gavin, Steve, Gavin!” he stressed. I sheepishly ducked my head and muttered, “Oops! Sorry.” Of course, I can understand Gavin’s frustration. He no doubt is called Grant from time to time, it being natural for people to associate him with his father, and he is no doubt extremely proud to be the son of such a creative dad. At the same time, Gavin wants to be recognized for his own achievements, and understandably so.

    In case you think I am getting old and forgetful—which, of course, I am—there have been a number of times over the years when I wasn’t so old that I misidentified people in person, too. There was the time at a Guild Show when I stopped at knifemaker Dennis Bradley’s table and carried on a conversation with him for several minutes, calling him Gayle (after knifemaker Gayle Bradley) repeatedly. Finally, when we were through talking, he said, “And oh, by the way, I’m Dennis.” Ugh. I slinked away.

    Another is production knife guru Vince Ford. On more than one occasion I have called him Paul, thinking he was knifemaker Paul Fox. Each time Vince has been gracious enough not to lose his temper, just shaking his head and giving me that funny little look he gives so well.

    On the other hand, some people in the knife industry simply look like others. I always thought in his later years Cutlery Hall-Of-Famer Bob Loveless resembled the older, heavier Peter Lorre. (And no, I never told Bob that. What, do you think I have a death wish or something?) I also think our managing editor, Joe Kertzman, looks like retired Major League Baseball catcher Mike Piazza. Heck, one time Mrs. Debbie Voyles told me I looked like Tom Hanks. Of course, that was a long time and many hair follicles ago. Or maybe it was just that I reminded her of Forrest Gump.

    Anyhow, I caught my mistake with Michael and Tom, though it was a day late and a dollar short—the day after the April BLADE went to the printer. I immediately fired off an e-mail with the subject line, “Man, did I screw up!” to Michael and Tom, as well as Mike Searson, the photographer of Tom’s picture that we used. Both Michael and Tom were equally gracious. “Now that will be funny!” Michael replied via e-mail. “I always wanted to be Tom for a month.” Not to be outdone, Tom e-mailed, “No worries! Michael never looked so good!”

    Thank you, Michael and Tom, for being good sports. And thank you, BLADE readers, for putting up with a well-meaning but often all-too-imperfect editor.

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