Knife sharpeners would carry an implement which was an engineering marvel to children. It had a large, light weight wheel, very similar to a bicycle wheel, about two-and-a-half to three feet in diameter and a small disc, cut out from a stone, of about six to nine inches in diameter and about a centimeter in thickness mounted on a cylindrical shaft. The cylindrical shaft with the disc and the large wheel was rigidly fixed on a metallic structure so that the disc remained above the large wheel when the machine was kept on ground during its normal operation. The large wheel had groove along its circumference. An elastic rubber belt passed over the cylindrical shaft and the groove of the large wheel. For sharpening a cutting tool, the large wheel was set into motion by hand which would set into motion the disc and a wooden foot pedal, which was attached to the wheel at two-third distance from its center by means of a rod which was bent into a semi-circular shape in its middle. The foot pedal worked like the foot pedal of a manual sewing machine but of much smaller size and was pressed from its upper position to the lower by foot to create a circular motion in the large wheel and the motion of the wheel restored the position of the pedal from the lower to the upper and thus making it ready to be pushed again.
When any cutting tool like a knife or a long curved blade was pressed against the rolling stone the red colored sparks created due to friction made everyone spellbound. As soon as the knife sharpener had announced his arrival, small boys and girls, having continual nasal discharge flowing at a slow but steady rate and cleared at regular intervals using the primary taste organ like cleaning windshield using wiper blades, would start walking behind him hoping that he would be engaged by some family for sharpening their cutting tools.
[To be continued]
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