From the Archives, January 31, 2021

The Parnell Commissary Shack, 1972

Most people are familiar with the fact that the current buildings that house the Trading Posts were built as part of the 1972 Capital Campaign and originally used service windows. But what about before that? Both Parnell and Stahlman originally started out with large surplus Army tents, usually GP Mediums or Squad Tents. Over time these transformed. In the case of Parnell, the tent was completely replaced.

Seen here is the Parnell Trading Post in April 1972. The Shack would be torn down in the not-too-distant future, so this was one of the last photos of the building. It sat essentially where the current building sits with the power pole on the left of the frame serving as the marker. You can see a picnic table out front and a row of electrical outlets running along a log beam. Vending machines, mostly the soft drink machines with the vertical door and at least candy machine, lined this space.

Craig Camp Director Perry Bruce worked in this Commissary when he was a youth. He explained that a door folded out of the building for serving, but not much stock was kept there, though there were a fair amount of colas in the back so the machines could be stocked every evening. The entire staff was two people and maybe a director (Bruce wasn’t sure!). Because there were vending machines, they kept slightly shorter hours: 8:30-11am and 2-5pm and some evenings. After campfire they might get a little help from other staff.

Bruce did recall two amusing stories about his time with the Parnell Commissary building. First was an anti-climatic story. ” Occasionally, they had somebody tamper with the machine in the middle of the night or something like that, but there was a big flood light on the apex of the roof of the commissary that looked down on those machines. It was easy to get on the roof of that building at the back end. You could sit up there behind that floodlight and they’d never see you.” Bruce sat on the roof. Never caught anyone.

The other story was a little better… “There was a couple of picnic tables sitting there. One day there was a street light there on a pole, right there at the– about where the front corner of the Trading Post would be now. I think that pole was still there for a while, but it would have been broke off at the top. I was there when it got broke off. It had a 7 Up or Pepsi man or something. That pole had a guide wire and he backed up to pull out and hit the guide wire and snapped the top of the pole off. That pole went swinging across one of them picnic tables. There weren’t any kids sitting there then.”

The Parnell Commissary Shack ladies and gentlemen…

Parnell Trading Post, April 1972
The Parnell Commissary in April 1972.

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