Saturday, September 3, 2016

Grogan's War Surplus

Henry P. was the proprietor of Grogan's War Surplus back when I was a kid growing up in the little town of Blight, Idaho.  Gosh, even now I can see Grogan's in all its splendor and glory, just as if it were yesterday instead of half a century ago.  The storefront itself was elegantly decorated with ammo boxes, jerry cans, camouflage netting, a limp yellow life raft, and various other residue of recent history.  It was nice.

On the lot next to the store, Grogan had carefully arranged the rusting wreckage of a dozen or so military vehicles in such a way as to conceal what had once been an unsightly patch of wildflowers.  Most interesting of the vehicles was a Sherman tank.  My friend Crazy Eddie Muldoon and I would have loved to get our hands on that tank, but Grogan refused to let us have it.  He said it would be irresponsible of him to let two ten-year-old boys drive off through town in a Sherman tank, unless, of course, they somehow happened to come up with the cash to buy it.  Grogan had a strict rule about selling dangerous war surplus to kids.  You had to be a certain height--tall enough to reach up and put the cash on the counter--before he'd let you leave with the goods.

I was Grogan's best customer--he always said so, anyway--and over the years he and I worked out this special arrangement.  He for his part would try to sell me every rotten, rusty, worthless piece of junk he had in the store.  I would buy it.  We both thought the arrangement quite equitable, he possibly somewhat more than I.  Long before I reached my teens, my bedroom began to look like a miniature version of Grogan's War Surplus.  Except for my mother's objections, I probably could have invaded a small country all by itself.

Patrick F. McManus,  Into the Twilight, Endlessly Grousing (New York: Simon and Schuster 1997), 111-112.

1 comment:

Ryu said...

That sounds like a great book. You've often quoted from it.