Mark White submits his memories of working at his father's Army Navy Surplus store at 9651 Garden Grove Blvd (between Gilbert and Brookhurst) during the 1950s...
I grew up in Garden Grove and grew up in my Dad’s Army Navy Surplus Store at 9651 Garden Grove Blvd, today it is a Korean Restaurant. I worked there from the middle of elementary school, the 1950’s, first sweeping and straightening up sections. On a Saturday I might sweep the store, using oiled sawdust and then be in charge of straightening all of the electrical section or camping gear or to stock the tools. I loved it.
Outside the door was a red Coca Cola Vending machine Dad had purchased, yes as surplus, and then purchased the 12 oz coke and stocked it himself. He would make his kids, me, buy a coke after being paid for working. With that you should have decent insight into my Dad. Every Saturday until I was on “payroll” he would buy me lunch from Zestos across the street. I can smell Zestos now. In my humble opinion, Zestos and In-n-Out ran neck and neck.
One anniversary for he and Mom, he bought a gorgeous ship's barometer and temperature set. Done in wood and brass it was beautiful on my mothers den wall. He came rushing home months later and took both telling my mother he could pay the mortgage with the money he was going to make on the set. That was Dad.
The store had camping gear, canvas, clothing, work shoes and much much more. Today Kids love Dickies. We sold the real thing, grey and tan work pants. Men from all over would come at regular intervals to buy their “gear”. When a customer my Dad recongnized as a Dickies customer would walk in the door, Dad might rush to the clothes section grab the size 40 waist 32 in seam the man would need and have the pants set for display. “Walk around the store and see what else you need and get these in a box in a moment”.
When we got Levis and army gear was popular in the sixties... I was in heaven. “What size in men’s pants do you think I need”, would ask a lovely Rancho Alamitos Senior Cheerleader. “Oh, well, turn around and let me guess”. My Dad said, “always guess two sizes smaller and hand them the proper size and one size bigger, when the young customer says these are too big for me it makes them feel good”. What a great job... What a great job, sorry lost it for a sec with some awesome memories.
Everyone from babes to boys scouts came in that store. I included a picture, I am thinking the year is 1959. My Grandfathers black Cadillac is on the side, my Dad’s truck is in front of the store. The coke machine is visible just to the right of the door in front of the store. Sorry no pictures of the soon to be hippie kids buying jeans but it sure is a hoard of wonderful memories for this Orange County Kid.