This post has me reflecting back to my youth:
When I was about 14 years old growing up in the south, almost everyone of my friends had a dad, uncle or older brother who had served in the military during WWII. We played army a lot, fighting ‘Japs or Germans’ in our back yards with cap guns and sometimes with actual war souvenirs like helmets and flags. Most of us had wartime relics that were brought home and pretty much forgotten about as the world went back to enjoying the peace time of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. I recall my neighbor wearing a German Officer’s visor cap and playing bus driver. Another had a Japanese rifle and he would tell us stories about its capture. One friend had a German helmet that had two bullet holes in the front and much larger holes in the back. These items were often traded around. A rifle for a go cart or a sword for a bicycle. I recall one day one of my friends needed some money to buy something. He had five Nazi Daggers and a Lion head sword that he wanted to sell. His father had brought them back and had long since left the family. I don’t think I ever met his dad. Anyway, he offered to sell them all to me, knowing I was interested in relics. I only had $16.00 on me, so we shook hands and I was now the owner of a German medical corpsman’s knife (with saw edge and blunt tip), a Luftwaffe dress dagger with yellowish handle and eagle hilt, A large black handled dagger with large hilt and swastika butt cap and a SA dagger and SS dagger both missing chains and hangers plus a lion’s head sword that I later learned had ruby eyes. Now I got all of the above for a total of $16.00 which was a tidy sum at that time. That was at least three lawn cuttings and a gutter cleaning that had taken me two weeks to earn. I figured I got a good deal since I already owned a Labor Corps Hewer with bone handle and black and silver sheath. It looked like a Roman short sword. I had bought it at an Army/Navy Store for $7.50. It had “Arbeit Adlet” or something like that on the blade. I had bought it several years earlier when my Dad was still alive and he said it meant 'work with honor'. It was cool and I chopped vines and small trees with it sometimes. I had sort of a museum and added to my collection over the years. I even took some items to school to show during our study of World War II. When I was a senior in High School, man who I met thru a friend offered to buy my knives and sword. He offered me $15.00 each and needing money in exchange for those things that were just gathering dust, I sold them thinking that I made a big profit on that deal. Much to my regret I later learned their real value. But I look back now and know that once, long ago I had some really nice war trophies. I see how today they are still valued and discussed amongst collectors. I am sure all of us have had things pass through our hands over the years that we now regret selling. I remember Lugers and P-38’s selling for $35.00. I guess it is all relative to the times in which we live. Maybe I did OK back then, but knowledge is valuable. I wish I had more of it back then.