While I was growing up, I was always intrigued by a unique establishment located in a seedy area of our small city. I think the sign on the building actually read Army-Navy Store, but we always called it the War Surplus Store.
Although I didn’t spend a lot of time in the place, I do remember going there with my dad once in a while. I’m not sure what he would have been shopping for — maybe a canvas Army cot for a spare bed, or a folding shovel — but he always liked to look around in unusual stores, especially places where he might find a bargain.
For a kid growing up in the post-war years, it was a fascinating place to visit. We had no concept of the dark side of war since our impressions were formed from the era’s sanitized Hollywood version, and it was fun to roam down through the aisles of khaki-colored merchandise, looking at exotic things like gas masks and imagining that we were Audie Murphy.
Through the years, War Surplus Stores have always found a way to get along and adapt to a changing world. Like just about everything else now, they are even on the internet, and whether real or virtual, the stores have also evolved in the type of merchandise they sell. In fact, it’s been said that a few places have sold some very questionable and highly illegal items.
But there are some types of surplus items that are way too big to put into a store, so then what? One answer might be in the pictures below, taken at a junkyard — er, military aircraft storage facility — in Arizona. Your tax dollars at work, folks.