Whitesburg KY

Mess hall food 70 years ago

My mother was the cook for my grandpa Daniel Short’s boarding house on Main Street, Jenkins, in the 1920’s for single coalminers before I was born.

Later, on our farm on Cane Branch, she could cook anything on our old wood-burning stove. Us three boys always had plenty to eat while growing up.

Then, I enlisted in the old Army Air Corps. What a change that was for me. The food that was put in front of us on the serving line . . . I never knew the military could do things with food the way that they did.

I’ve never seen powdered milk or powdered eggs before. We stood in long lines to get a spoon full of sugar to put on our oatmeal that had lumps as big as your fist in it.

I would march our flight to the mess hall, then lead them down the long lines where hundreds of GIs were waiting to be fed.

This one morning I will never forget. When I came to this big pan of red meat, I told my men that it looked like horsemeat to me. One of the KPs ran to tell the mess sergeant. The mess sergeant came up to me, nose to nose, and chewed my butt out.

I told him that I grew up on a farm and knew what horsemeat looked like, even though I’d never seen horsemeat before.

From then on, the old mess sergeant watched me like a hawk every time I came into his mess hall.

Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfi eld, Calif.

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