There’s a little, red, brick building on the corner of 60th and Pacific. I’m sure you’ve seen it while waiting at the lights. 1101 S. 60th Street, to be exact. It is known mostly for having a bus stop bench by it–some dental business has advertised a large set of crackly teeth on that bench for some time. Jarring….but eye catching. This Omaha Mystery stands rather discreetly as part of a mostly single family home area in Elmwood. There are some other businesses further south down 60th. It seems like a very long time ago now but when we first moved to Omaha, that little building was home to a gun shop. Arms & Ammo. My father and I would drive there from Benson. This had to be in the early to mid 70’s. I know it existed through the 80’s as well but by then I was too, too cool to be seen with my dad anywhere. Let alone a gun shop. Stupid kid. It seemed like such a long drive to midtown. (Driving around the Elmwood area now, I can’t remember or see where we would have parked dad’s car, other than in a neighborhood side street. Maybe on the north-most side of the building?) Anyway the entrance was on the west side, facing 60th. I seem to remember there being small windows in the front with a security gate or bars on the windows? I don’t think it was painted red back then. I do remember there being some lively characters in that gun shop. Of course, all men. Men standing around talking. I don’t know what they were discussing but we can guess. Kind of like how men congregate at S.G. Roi Tobacconist’s, Dragon’s Lair Comics or at Kanesville Kollectibles’. Different group. Yes, a way different crowd but the same perceived level of camaraderie to a young girl’s mind. I could be wrong but in memory there was a glass counter, like a horseshoe, that went around the store with a the center aisle for customers. It was a fun trip that just my father and I would take. Can’t be sure why he always brought me along but I felt privileged to be allowed to go into that dark, hidden place, filled only with men. Which brings up other memorable moments in our weird but great father-daughter jaunts around town: trips to Louis’ Bar for “dinner” with his drinking buddy and monthly visits to the old barbershop by West Lanes Bowling Alley on 72nd Street.
They say the owner of Arms & Ammo at 60th and Pacific was Jim Sutton. I believe he sold his business to a place out of Fremont. There also appears to be a AAA Arms & Ammo on Grover St in Omaha but I’m not sure if that is related. I left town in the mid 80’s and unfortunately do not remember exactly when the original Arms & Ammo closed down. It seems it was still there in the early 90’s, when I had returned.
The original building on 60th and Pacific was built in 1920. I would guess it was originally built as a grocery store–the traditional, corner, neighborhood store that we all miss or have heard so much about from our grandparents. It enjoyed another life as home to the Elmwood Grocery Store, owned and run by James and Anna Skryja, in the 1950’s. I’m sure they had the neighborhood credit policy where a child could “sign”for milk or cigarettes–the parents being billed monthly. I can imagine the creaky, wooden floor and the narrow aisles, stocked with pantry items. That neighborhood could use a great corner shop right now.
Just the other day I drove by and noticed there was heat rising from the old Arms & Ammo chimney which got the old wheels turning. A quick online search showed the building was apparently sold in 1997 to a buyer whose address is listed in another town in Nebraska. I have never seen anyone come or go from the mysterious 60th and Pacific address since the business left. I have imagined this to be an incredible home, albeit dark, or a secret clubhouse. The letters have been taken off the building but a shadow font still reads “Arms & Ammo”. The gated doorway suggesting that fabulous things are being protected therein. Who knows? Coincidentally the AAA Arms & Ammo business out on Grover Street was started in 1997.
This article now has a followup. Please see Mysteries of Omaha: Arms & Ammo Part Two.
If you have any memories or knowledge of this building, please, do share them with us…Click on the title of this post to enable comments. Thanks, Omaha friends.