It has always amazed me how an event with almost zero publicity can bring out thousands of people from most surrounding states to swarm all over Fort Leavenworth.

It has always amazed me how an event with almost zero publicity can bring out thousands of people from most surrounding states to swarm all over Fort Leavenworth.

But no matter what Saturday is chosen, bargain-seekers from seemingly everywhere descend on the fort for the annual post-wide yard sale.
That descent will be Saturday. Regular attendees know what I mean when I say it may just be the largest yard sale within a small area you can find anywhere.

Last year it was regrettably the same weekend as the 10th largest combined flea market in the United States, a few hours north at Sparks and White Cloud. Fortunately, this year they are a week apart, which will give the bodies of those who enjoy both a few days' respite.

The only publicity I've seen about the fort sale was a small paragraph in the Lamp newspaper a couple of times, giving the date and times of sale. The date is April 27, and according to many sellers I've talked to over the years the time doesn't matter.

When dealers show up around 5 a.m. to set out wares for the announced 6 a.m. opening, people are already in most housing areas with flashlights. As items are put on tables, some are immediately bought.
That's not the norm, but it happens every year. A CGSC student last year said a man was waiting outside at 5 a.m. and even offered to help him carry boxes of items to his table. That's a hard-core yard sale enthusiast.
Interestingly, as with the annual first day of class CGSC international flag ceremony, I've not found anyone who knows when the yard sales began. The old timers I've asked said it was going on when they first arrived, some back to the 1950s and 1940s.

Wonder what items Majors Patton and Eisenhower put out for sale prior to their graduations in 1924 and 1926? I know Brig. Gen. Colin Powell had one before he left in the early 1980s, as did a former commandant, Lt. Gen. Jim Riley before he retired in 2003.

Riley claimed he didn't know about the annual sale until it came up in a meeting. At another meeting a week before the sale, he reminded everyone to be sure to drop by #1 Scott for the best bargains. I went, and there were some bargains.

The heart of the sale is the student area, which today are areas all over post. Whatever the family is tired of dragging around the world or doesn't want to take to the next assignment goes in the sale.

One can trace wars at the sales. In my early years at the fort Vietnam War jungle fatigues and other apparel were sold for a dollar a set. A few years later came Cold War items, and I acquired a few pieces of the Berlin Wall.
Then there were Desert Storm and Iraqi souvenirs, and later items from Bosnia and Afghanistan. If current world events continue, future sales might include souvenirs from North Korea. Might Iranian items be too far in the future?

Most of the sellers just want to get rid of unwanted "junque." But there are those who try to take advantage of the large crowd and make a big profit. The veteran buyer learns to quickly determine a seller's category and proceed accordingly.

I don't recall it ever raining on post yard sale day, so let's hope that tradition continues. But if it does, I have no doubt that enterprising sellers would quickly begin selling umbrellas they found in some storage cubby hole.
Have fun if you go, but save some energy for the next weekend. More later.

John Reichley is a retired Army officer and retired Department of the Army civilian employee.