Watervliet Fire Department in front of City Hall
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From the photo collection at the North Berrien Historical Museum
300 Coloma Avenue, Coloma
The Paw Paw River Journal
Let’s chow down!
Yeah, I want to talk about food… institutional food. We all have times in our lives when we have to deal with food prepared in large quantities. And I think the cooks involved in that do a marvelous job, in spite of the bad rap they sometimes get. My experience was in the U.S. Air Force, sometimes good, sometimes bad, but always life sustaining. The Chief Accountant has told me she had the same problems with institutional food when she was in nurse’s training. One time they had a “salad” that was nothing but macaroni with two or three pieces of celery in it! My best food ever was on a hospital ship coming back to the U.S. from Asia… can you imagine hot biscuits for breakfast?
The only thing to rival that was later in our lives when we visited cousin Dot out in Idaho. Her mom, Aunt May, was from Texas, so she cooked in that style and passed it on to her daughter. Dot had pork chops, biscuits and gravy for breakfast! Such luxury! Good thing we knew little about cholesterol back then!
One base in my flight training they could have used some good nutritionists. Evidently the guys were not eating all the food, so they took to putting it on our trays as we passed… one cook dropped a big piece of greasy pork on my tray… I didn’t want it, but I had no choice! I sat and looked at it, then took my tray to the door where we would bang it on a barrel to get the uneaten food off and into the garbage. When a sergeant saw me coming along, he pointed a finger at me and said, “All right, soldier, back in there and eat that meat! We don’t waste food around here!”
I went back in to the farthest point away in a corner. Then I sat there a few moments, got up and went out another exit where no one was checking trays. It was so bad that one cadet in my flight, an old man of about 25, was married and used to his wife’s cooking. He would often come out from breakfast, toss his cookies, and sit down on the curb until some of us would come along and help him get back to the barracks.
When I was in Burma, on one occasion my friends and I became instant heroes! We went out deer hunting one night… boy, would that be illegal back here! The area by this time was reasonably secure, so we weren’t worried that any Japanese would be lurking about. We shot two deer and brought them back to our cooks. Their eyes lit up when they saw what we had. Everyone on our base thereafter enjoyed a delicious fresh venison stew. In addition, they saved us hunters a venison steak!
We lived in Ann Arbor for 16 years, and I had connections to the University of Michigan. I taught there while I was working on an advanced degree, and all the time I was in the public school system I trained student teachers for them. So we got to know a lot of their people.
One friend was a guy named Fred. He had a very responsible position, and in the course of events he and some of his colleagues were scheduled to attend a conference at Michigan State University in Lansing. He said if we would give him daughter Becky’s phone number, he would look her up. She was a student on that campus at the time.
Well, he did. Fred and a friend had a room together at the Kellogg Center. So one afternoon, Fred said to his roommate, “Guess I’ll call up and see if I can get a dinner date for tonight!”
The friend said, “Yeah, right!”
They were supposed to go to a meeting with their group. So he listened while Fred got out his little black book, found Becky’s number, and dialed her. He said, “Hi, Becky, it’s Fred. How would you like to go out to dinner tonight?” Of course, Becky was delighted at the thought of a change from dorm food. She said she would enjoy that!