Yesterday evening my family and I drove down to Lancaster to visit family friends. Typically, the women spend Saturday shopping at the various outlets while the men go to the Antique Arms Show in Baltimore. This year, I decided to forgo shopping (and apparently missed a Borders outlet!) in favor of tagging along to see the gun show. I must admit, waking up at half past five and waiting in a long line for half an hour in cold weather trumped a day of retail therapy.
I met some of the most interesting people and saw some of the most interesting things today. An entire building full of pre-1898 firearms, swords, knives, photos, uniforms, letters and basically everything else under the sun. And the people working the stalls are so knowledgeable about their displays -- history truly comes alive.
At first, I was completely overwhelmed and aimlessly wandered down the aisles. Then, I decided to look for WWII and Middle-Eastern items, which really made the day a lot more interesting.
I met a Vietnam veteran who is currently in the process of publishing a book about his experiences in Vietnam. It should be published in three to six months, and I'm looking forward to purchasing a copy. It was quite a privilege to talk to him.
I also spent a few minutes talking to a man who collects samurai armor and other memorabilia. I must admit that I was at first a bit upset that something so important would be carelessly sold and taken far from Japan, but I know that the armor and katanas are in far better care with him than with uncaring families. Still, he tries to return items to their families when he is able to, which I thought was wonderful.
There was also a man with a lot of propaganda posters from the World Wars. He noticed me looking at them and immediately began to explain the different stories behind the posters, and showed me an album about a Vietnam War museum exhibit featuring the ship bunks of soldiers on their way to Vietnam.
One man specializes in Islamic knives, which of course caught my attention. He had a very nice blade with Arabic calligraphy on it -- I took some photos with the hopes that my professor can translate the script. There was also an Indian axe head with writing on it, but thus far no one has been able to translate it. I took a few photos and will upload them tomorrow, and hopefully someone will be able to translate.
Dad bought the two of us strawberry-lemonade smoothies (which were insanely expensive, by the way) and we sat down near two gentlemen from Delaware. The first was a native Delawarean, and I never would have guessed his accent. The second was originally from Brooklyn, which was evident immediately. They were both interesting to talk to (and the one from Brooklyn hunts in Lake Ariel, which is where my dad was born and raised!) and very nice -- I must admit that I was a bit surprised by the amount of courteous and genuinely friendly people.
I purchased a few Iraqi propaganda pamphlets from a man named James Sparew (I believe). I would have purchased more (I easily could have spent a small fortune), but I've decided that I need to prioritize and buy a handgun first. But after I have a handgun (and maybe an AR-15), I would love to start collecting. I've discovered that my interests lie more in personal effects, like letters and photos, than in guns and sabres (though they're nice, too); although, Dad and I saw three HJ knives and I fell in love with them. I also really liked a poster about sword canes and dishonor and usage, the words of which I can no longer remember. I've decided that someday I'm going to decorate my house with propaganda posters and Michael Yon photography.
Overall, I really enjoyed going to the gun show, and I have the feeling that I'll be skipping out on shopping next year, too.
If anyone can translate the above script, I'd be very grateful! Please comment or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.