The saddest words to come from the mouth of a man are the words "I could have been."

To try is to risk failure but only by trying do you have the opportunity for success.

The Saga of Ike Can’t


Richard A. Hanson © 2006


Foreword:  I am having a bad day.  First the Ford Garage called and told me that the numerous and much needed repairs to my pickup were complete and it was ready to pick up.   This caught me at a most in opportune time as I had taken my diabetes medicine and the allotted 30 minutes before I was supposed to eat breakfast had just about expired.  Ike Can’t eat breakfast before the van arrived to take me to the dealership.  Breakfast will have to be postponed for an hour or so and my blood sugar level began a slow slide down hill.  Believe me, I am not the most personable individual when my blood sugar level is normal, when it is low you would rather meet a Grizzly Bear that has just backed into a branding iron. My truck was ransomed for a princely sum and I return home and in 5 minutes prepare a breakfast of cold cereal and toast.  Breakfast consumed, Ike Cant start to work till the carbohydrates kick in and my sugar level comes up.  To while away the time, I play a few games of Free Cell on the computer after I have checked my email.  For some reason or other Ike Cant seem to win at the stupid game.  At last my sugar level rises, I am feeling like Attila the Hun on a bad hair day and I head to the garage to finish the wondermus twisted Damascus blade that I forged, rough ground and heat treated yesterday.  All I have to do is some detail work on the belt sander then polish it and get it ready for the handle, but Ike Cant seem to get the bevels on the blade matched up from side to side.  Then Ike Can’t believe my eyes, I have ground into a cold shut that appears to be deeper than the Grand Canyon.  After what seems like hours on the belt sander, the crater is finally gone, but I now have a very thin blade.  Now flip the blade over and adjust the bevel on the other side and you guessed it, another bugger in the blade appears.  The blade is trash, Ike Cant do anything with it.  After a few minutes of cursing my lowly station in life, I decide that I can use the blade the next time I make some canned Damascus but first I will do some destructive testing on the blade to see how tough it is.  First I beat it up with a 4 lb Straight Peen but Ike Cant crack it.  Then I lay it across some blocks and hammer the unsupported center but Ike Cant break it.  I did manage to cause some cracking in the side away from the hammer so I put it in the vise and bend it to a 90o angle but it still won’t break.  This must be a “John Wayne blade” one tough son of a gun.  As I am standing at the vise I look out the door of the garage and see something dripping under my pickup.  Ike Cant believe this is happening to me.  My pickup is leaking antifreeze and Ike Cant understand why because it wasn’t leaking when I took it to the Ford Dealer for repairs.  I call the Ford Dealer and they say to bring it back and they will look at it. 


The History of Ike Can’t:  Bill Epps once said in the Anvilfire Slack Tub Chat that he knew old Ike Cant and that the dumb son of a gun died in the poor house.  I know that Bill is a truthful man so the Ike Cant I had the misfortune to be associated with today must have been one of his numerous descendants like  Ike the 16th or Ike the 32nd  anyway relatives of old Ike are still with us to this day. 


Although Ike’s roots probably go back to the time that man first walked erect, the first written record of Can’t Clan is in Ancient Rome at the time of Julius Caesar, a well known Salad Chief and Emperor of the Roman Empire. Julius as you all know was set upon and brutally stabbed by Mark Anthony, Cassius and others including Brutus.  As the dying Caesar turned to Brutus and uttered the immortal words “et tu Brute” it was then that Brutus’ true identity was revealed, he was really Ike Cant Stickem.  


From here the trail of the Cant Clan is muddied and difficult to follow but we do know that they made their way to England and eventually to the colonies later to be known as the United States of America.  It is here that we find another reference to the Can’t Family at the end of the Revolutionary War when the British General Lord Cornwallis, who was really Ike Cant Whipem, surrendered to General George Washington. General Washington was also a distant and revered member of the Cant Family know as Ike Cant Tellalie.   He was the first and possibly the last honest politician this country would ever see.   From here the genealogy becomes unclear but it is almost certain that the modern Can’t descended from illegitimate offsprings the Cornwallis branch of the family who were known for giving up and surrendering as opposed to the Washington side of the family because George was known as a “can do” kind of guy.  Although the genealogy of the Cant tribe once again becomes unclear, it can be assumed that the ancestors of the clan were involved in all aspects of the settling of America and we know they traveled throughout the world and also settled in many foreign lands. Branches of the family have been found in Germany, the Ike Cant Whip the French Enough branch.  In France there is the Ike Cant Surrender Fastenough branch. 


In the early 1900s we once again pick up on Cant Clan, and find that the parents of Ike Cant were Unableto Smith an Dowanna Try.  They named their first offspring, a boy, John Ike Cant Smith.  Later in life Ike; not wanting to be identified with all the John Smiths who rented rooms by the hour in sleazy motels shortened his name to Ike Cant.  With the parents he had, Ike was probably doomed from the start and a series of half hearted attempts that resulted in failures from which he learn nothing left him destitute and living on the charity of his friends.  While Ike was never successful in business, he did succeed in producing many offsprings from his marriage to Afraidta Start.  While as Bill Epps said, Ike Cant died in the poorhouse, his offsprings are still with us today and at one time or another they seem to become involved in our operations.  Beware, once Ike Cant becomes involved  in your operation, he can take over and ruin your business. 


Some of the more well known descendants of Ike Cant that have taken up Blacksmithing are:


Ike Cant Smith without a London Pattern Anvil

Ike Cant Smith without Pocahontas #3 Coal

Ike Cant Smith without all the latest gadgets

Ike Cant Smith because I have no shop


Now here is the rub, many will use Ike Cant as an excuse not to try.  Remember that if you never try, you will never fail but you will also never succeed.  Any hunk of steel that has a flat spot can serve as an anvil.  Even the less than satisfactory coal that is available from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming will suffice if that’s all you have available.  If you don’t have the latest gadgets, build them, that’s what the old time blacksmiths did.  There is a blacksmith in Hawaii that smiths off the balcony of his high-rise apartment building.  He don’t have a shop but he does have a can do attitude. Where there is a will, there is a way.  Where there is no will, the most modern well equipped shop available will not show you the way.  Remember that Engineers once figured out that the bumble bee could not fly.  The size, shape and weight of its body in relation to the size and shape of its wings make flight impossible.  Now either someone forgot to tell the bumblebees or they told them and the bees don’t care.


After word:  When things go wrong and make me miserable it is my duty to pass that misery along and share it with as many people as possible therefore I have decided to annoy all of you with yet another story in which I tried to trace the family history of Ike Cant.  When I suffer you suffer, it’s only fair.  There are many of you that will say of me that “Ike Cant write a story”.  To you I say, that has never yet stopped me from trying.  It has also been said that the “pun” is the lowest form of humor, this should prove that statement beyond all reasonable doubts.