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Ray Duckler

Ray Duckler: Merry Christmas, and leave your snow globe in your luggage

  • Winston Uy, 11, of Antrim, left, sorts through the boxes of pocket knives at the White Farm State Surplus building on November 28, 2012. The store on Clinton Street sells many of the items that are surrendered at security checkpoints in Manchester-Boston Regional Airport. Pocket knives are sold as cheap as a dollar. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Winston Uy, 11, of Antrim, left, sorts through the boxes of pocket knives at the White Farm State Surplus building on November 28, 2012. The store on Clinton Street sells many of the items that are surrendered at security checkpoints in Manchester-Boston Regional Airport. Pocket knives are sold as cheap as a dollar.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • The higher end knives are kept in a case at the White Farm State Surplus building. The store on Clinton Street sells many of the items that are surrendered at security checkpoints in Manchester-Boston Regional Airport. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    The higher end knives are kept in a case at the White Farm State Surplus building. The store on Clinton Street sells many of the items that are surrendered at security checkpoints in Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Snow globes, like this commemorative anniversary globe, are surrendered frequently at the airport because of the Transportation Security Administration rules against bringing liquids on board. The White Farm State Surplus building on Clinton Street sells many of the items that are surrendered at security checkpoints in Manchester-Boston Regional Airport. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Snow globes, like this commemorative anniversary globe, are surrendered frequently at the airport because of the Transportation Security Administration rules against bringing liquids on board. The White Farm State Surplus building on Clinton Street sells many of the items that are surrendered at security checkpoints in Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Winston Uy, 11, of Antrim, left, sorts through the boxes of pocket knives at the White Farm State Surplus building on November 28, 2012. The store on Clinton Street sells many of the items that are surrendered at security checkpoints in Manchester-Boston Regional Airport. Pocket knives are sold as cheap as a dollar. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • The higher end knives are kept in a case at the White Farm State Surplus building. The store on Clinton Street sells many of the items that are surrendered at security checkpoints in Manchester-Boston Regional Airport. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Snow globes, like this commemorative anniversary globe, are surrendered frequently at the airport because of the Transportation Security Administration rules against bringing liquids on board. The White Farm State Surplus building on Clinton Street sells many of the items that are surrendered at security checkpoints in Manchester-Boston Regional Airport. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

John Supry, a stoic New Englander not prone to rushing things, wasted no time when asked which carry-on object seemed strangest to him.

“The snow globes; we get tons of those,” said Supry, manager of the State Surplus Store on Clinton Street. “One of those bombers was working with some kind of a liquid to blow the plane up, so there are only so many ounces of liquid allowed.”

It’s an interesting, even comical topic, connected to a very serious matter. When passengers at four of the largest

airports in New England – in Boston, Providence, Hartford and Manchester – carry something on board that the Transportation Security Administration deems dangerous, the items eventually wind up here.

Shake the snow globe and watch the serenity, the snow floating onto bears in Vermont, lighthouses in Maine, skyscrapers in New York and Santa at the North Pole.

Try to bring it on a plane, though, and watch officials confiscate it quicker than you can say “Ho, Ho, Ho.” At least if it contains more than 3.4 ounces of water. Prior to this year, even the ones barely bigger than a golf ball were taken away.

Since 9/11, we’ve had to take our shoes and belts off, allow strangers to touch us where we don’t want to be touched and had our snow globes taken from us.

It’s all part of our new society, turned upside down 11 years ago. Things will never be the same.

Meanwhile, the local surplus store reflects the War on Terror, filled with anything and everything that can even remotely be attached to an in-flight disaster. For a long while, decades, that was not its function.

Twice a year, on the grounds of this old farm surrounded by cornfields, the store holds an auction that as recently as five years ago attracted 1,300 people. The recession, Supry says, has bitten into attendance, but great deals on state vehicles and furniture are always a bid away.

Once, taxi cab companies from as far away as Chicago came to bid on these used cars, hoping to restock their fleet at bargain prices. This is how the surplus store stays afloat.

“There are many small agencies that have to generate their own funds,” said Supry, 32 years on the job. “That’s the way they set this up originally, to do the state auction. Our primary job here is take care of the state surplus. This is just an add-on.”

The add-on began about eight years ago, according to Supry, when the Transportation Security Administration grew tired of storing what it took from passengers. The TSA needed help.

“They reached out to the states to see if they would relieve them of all this property, because they didn’t want to have to pay to dispose of it,” Supry said. “So they contacted us. A lot of states didn’t want to bother with this.

“It’s a two-way street,” Supry continued. “It’s a pain some days, but it brings in quite a bit of revenue for us. Our only expense is picking it up.”

Which, Supry said, is done a few times a year. Manchester and Hartford call once or twice a year, Boston and Providence maybe four times per year.

What’s hauled back in a company truck is on display in two rooms, shelves and shelves of bargains taken from people who were caught off guard.

Some items are not dangerous but rather were simply left behind, like belts and watches.

Elsewhere, there are hammers and screwdrivers and drills and scissors and mini baseball bats and tennis racquets and lacrosse sticks and toy police cap guns and toy buccaneer pistols and walking canes and umbrellas and staple guns and those Magic 8 Balls with floating prophetic messages.

There are also folding knives, lots of them, and box cutters, chilling reminders of a dark piece of history.

“You would think people wouldn’t carry on a lot of these things,” Supry said.

Joe Martel is glad some did. He drove 85 miles south, from North Haverhill, to shop here, saying the store has the best deals around.

He pulls out a Swiss Army knife, marked down from more than $100 new to 15 bucks used. He says he uses it every day at his job at a hardware store. He proceeds to unfold it and pull at it, morphing it into knives, a screwdriver, a chisel and a bottle opener like a transformer robot.

“Sometimes these are great deals,” Martel said. “I work at a hardware store and a lot of times I see what things go for.”

Word is out. The Boston Globe wrote about the store last week, the Chicago Tribune came by after the election and CNN called yesterday morning.

They’ll see sharp things and heavy tools, the obvious stuff that could be used as a weapon.

And they’ll see snow globes, too.

“Wherever you go they sell that stuff,” Supry said. “We get them from every place you can think of, the Eiffel Tower, whatever it is. They pick up a souvenir and stick it in their carry-on without even thinking.”

(Ray Duckler can be reached at 369-3304 or rduckler@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @rayduckler.)

Not for nothing,,,,,,,, Osama VBin Laden is laughing at us from the great beyond. NHD & The Hounds

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