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.