A popular upcoming event has bounced around for some 20 years in different venues. I attended the very first one, in a tiny meeting room in the fort's Combined Arms Research Library, then to the Hunt Lodge, then downtown to the old American Legion building that is now Marlow White Uniform Company.
For many years it was at the fort's Frontier Conference Center (FCC), and when it closed for a couple of years the show moved to the Riverfront Community Center (RCC). The FCC reopened last year, but patrons lobbied for the event to continue at the RCC due to the perceived hassle of a civilian vehicle getting on the fort.
So that's where it will be next Saturday, Feb. 9, the who-knows-how-many-years almost annual Leavenworth Military Show.
Several people have run it, with the current organizer, Dr. Jerry Brown, long-time CGSC history instructor, being the most tenured. He's got it down to an almost fine science, causing Jim McDuff, president of the American Society of Military Insignia Collectors to call it "One of the best organized and run small shows anywhere."
McDuff should know, for before he became the group's president he ran its annual show around the country and has visited many shows in many areas. He calls the Leavenworth one a small show as it has between 80 and 100 tables, compared to the Kansas City show that has had up to 400 tables.
But 80 tables crammed with priceless old military artifacts, or old military junk as one's preference may be, is quite a lot to look at. Although there have been a few display-only tables, probably 98 percent of items on tables are for sale, if the seller and buyer can agree on a price.
It brings sellers and buyers from several neighboring states, and Brown says some first-time sellers are coming this year. Last year I reunited with a former Army buddy from Germany who sold items from his rural farmhouse over there. He now lives near Chicago, but has not requested tables for next weekend. I'll miss seeing the old boy this year.
Brown never knows in advance what sellers will pile on their tables, but artifacts will go back a couple of hundred years and be from many countries around the world. There will be military books, uniforms, edged weapons, guns, but only those legal to sell, and always a few surprises awaiting eager buyers.
And it is a family affair for the Browns. While Jerry runs around answering questions and putting out fires (figuratively speaking), wife Shirley greets customers at the entrance and accepts their $3 donation to get in. That is except for those who identify themselves as WW II or Korean War veterans, who enter without making a donation.
Several WW II vets wear their uniform, and are always willing to pose for pictures if asked, although most folks don't go to a show with a camera.
Page 2 of 2 - The show will be in the RCC gymnasium from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Those there for lunch can enjoy a "New Zealand hotdog" prepared by Trevor Brown, the Browns' son. I have to wait all year for the treat, so of course I will have two. Note to wife: light supper next Saturday.
Sometimes re-enactors are there and it is kind of neat to see men wearing WW II German SS uniforms looking at WW II German helmets or other accoutrements. A deputy commandant of two from CGSC and many active duty and retired officers have been spotted in the crowd each year.
So if you enjoy being around veterans, like looking at, touching, and perhaps buying pieces of our military heritage, there is but one place for you to be next Saturday. See you there.
John Reichley is a retired Army officer and retired Department of the Army civilian employee.