The Bouquet Of Nostalgia

For stirring up faded memories in any guy of my era, there is nothing quite like the scent of rotting canvas, gun oil and rancid boots to immediately transport you back to 1975. The air in a surplus store was not only fragrant but also undoubtedly highly contaminated with military fungicide, various tropical mold spores and bacteria from places where politics is usually practiced with firearms. Sometimes I wonder if these noxious-yet-intoxicating fumes adversely affected my brain development, forcing me into a life of gun writing instead of gainful employment.

A trip to the surplus store/gun shop was always full of surprise and adventure. Since most of these establishments were run by crusty and slightly disreputable old men, inventory control and hygiene standards were lacking by Civil War standards but we happily dove into the oversize crates lining store walls, tunneling through mountains of stained sleeping bags and other unrecognizable jetsam in search of hidden treasure.

At my tender age the gun counter was still off-limits to hands-on handling. Yet, we still spent countless hours ogling the pickup-truck-worn lever actions, sleek bolt guns and the weird selection of old military rifles, most of which were peddled in the back of magazines for $29.95.