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Here's a thread everyone can add to. We all got started somewhere with that first helmet, medal, patch, etc. Maybe it was given to us by a veteran uncle or father when we were very young, or perhaps it was later on in life when army-navy surplus stores became our new "candy stores".
This is about our first few items and how we got hooked, and perhaps the journey to today, not an inventory of our present collections.

From my earliest memories, I always had army trucks, tanks, and soldiers, and even that Sears-Roebuck "Army Uniform" (with the Ridgeway cap) from the 1969 Wishbook. But around second grade, my interest really seemed to take off after watching "Castle Keep"; that T-34 tank was the hook. Got the Revell model and put it together. Started looking through the 1962 2-volume "American Heritage WWII" book set. Really liked the German helmets, and begged my parents for either a German or Russian army helmet. No internet back then, so I just kept pestering them, trusting that they would surely know how to get one.

Then, in 4th grade, my Uncle Ted sent a black M-35 (size 64) helmet with still-to-be-applied SS decals from "Unique Imports". PAYDIRT! My Uncle John brought me a WWII G.I. helmet on a visit a few months later. My father's WWII uniform, hat, and ribbons were given to me soon after. By 6th grade, I was earning money mowing lawns, and spent every dime with Unique Imports buying WWII German stuff--even got to visit their old store in Alexandria when I was 13! Interest waned during college, and most everything got sold for gas and beer money:barf::barf::barf:!

Got back into militaria/guns again in my early 30s. Sold nearly that whole collection for an engagement ring a few years later:cry: (but wifey is still worth it even after 12 years!). Started again about three years ago with the mission to replace every piece I've ever had. Some replicas have had to suffice until I can find/afford the real deal. Wifey thinks it's a waste of money, but I'm just trying to keep up with her shoe and purse collection!:) How about your story? By the way, if you can explain "why" you collect militaria, that would be neat, too. My answer is "Why Not?" (maybe it's a guy thing--unexplainable. It just "is").
 
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