As I loaded my car early Friday morning, I was relieved to see that it had only snowed an inch or so the night before. While I was in college, there were four consecutive years the Hastings Nebraska Militaria Show was canceled due to blizzard conditions. Show co-promoter Mike Bockman was beginning to think the Lord was trying to send him a message. Fortunately, we’ve been “blessed” with drivable conditions the last few years.
This year, I invited a friend and fellow history buff to travel with me and see what a militaria show entails. I typically make this drive alone. However, it was nice to share my tradition of seeing the flocks of sandhill cranes that fill the sky and bare fields every year when these protected birds stop their migratory path to rest in central Nebraska.
As I followed the highway, my mind raced with fantasies of new acquisitions for my collection. You never know what will turn up and I have never left Hastings without great items.
The show was well attended with approximately 120 tables, including several new dealers. There were also several nice uniform, weapon, and vehicle displays. I was so engrossed with militaria that I had to remind myself to eat and sit down periodically, so I could rest my legs from the hard slab concrete floors.
I am primarily a uniform collector and one of my favorite things I purchased this year is a WWII 6th Marine Division uniform. It did not have documentation or paperwork, but the name printed inside the blouse was unique. The dealer who sold it was local and I suspected the veteran was local too. So, I took a chance and bought it.
When I got home I began my research and immediately struck gold. I discovered the Marine was born in Grinnell, IA and had been an editorial writer for the Omaha World Herald. I also learned that he recently wrote a book based off his personal experiences (including being a Marine in WWII)! Lastly, I discovered he lives in a retirement community with his wife not far from my home. I’ve ordered a copy of his book and plan on contacting him after I read it.
Other items I purchased include a Vietnam era smoke grenade, several WWII patches and ribbon bars, a US WWII M1 helmet (front seam fixed bale with very early St Clair liner), a WWII silk-screened poster, and some books. A fellow collector showed me a camouflage M40 SS single decal helmet he purchased before I arrived on Friday. A dealer friend showed me a great WWII US M1 fixed bale helmet that walked into the show on Saturday. Even my friend who rode with me could not resist coming home with books, a WWII GI footlocker, and several US WWII patches. It seems like everyone came away with something.
Chris Hughes is a WorthPoint Worthologist specializing in 20th century militaria and the owner of Rally Point Militaria and Vietnam Uniform – Military Collectibles sites.
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