I wasn’t aboard the Mo Boat (This is what we called the USS Monticello) very long before I was assigned 6 weeks of mess duty. No I had not gotten into any trouble every new comer to the ship had to do this. I started out in the Scullery peeling potatoes, and washing dishes it wasn’t bad duty for we had a potato peeler on board, you had to really watch it though if you left the potatoes in to long they would peal down to nothing. Doing the dishes though was a little different story for you better have your sea legs and a strong stomach, the smell plus the rocking of the ship could get to you if you did not watch it. I had to do this part for about two weeks if I remember right, one day I was talking with the chief cook and he asked me if I knew anything new to fix to eat, I said chicken fried steak is always good and he told me he had never heard of this kind of steak and wanted to know how to make it. Luckily at this time it had not been too long since we had left port and we had fresh eggs to dip the steaks in, I told him that first we needed to tenderize the steaks dip in flour and then in the milk and eggs then into the flour again throw them on the grill and fry them up till golden brown. Everyone loved them and the chief said I could stay in the kitchen the rest of the time.
We usually had good food on board ship at least for the first week or so after leaving port but after that, fresh eggs turned into powdered eggs, fresh milk turned into powdered milk and so on. I am not saying that was bad but it did make a difference on how things would taste. I know every time we would have SOS well I won’t say that word but it could be called COS or crap on shingle; actually it was corned beef and gravy on bread. I would always go to the ships store and get some kind of snack to tide me over till supper or diner depending on what you called it. Speaking of bread they would make it fresh every day but the flour would get flour weevils (Bow weevils) in it and I just could not eat it, but I would always get a slice of it because you could put it under the food tray and this would keep your tray in front of you while the ship was rocking. In the mess deck the tables are welded to the deck and they had a raised ledge around it to help keep the food tray from sliding off in rough seas. The seat was a swivel chair that was also welded to the deck and as you ate your meal you would swivel from side to side, this is something you just had to get used to. You would have to hold your drink with one hand the whole time are your buddy setting next to you would end up wearing it or it would spell into their food tray.
At night we would sometimes have movie night the mess deck was huge and it had a bulkhead (wall) that split it in the middle and there was a big hole with a move screen tied up to feel the hole. They would set up the projector on the navy side, yep we had a navy side and a marine side, the bad thing was the marines had to watch it backwards I guess the best way to describe it is like watching it in a mirror. We also had a popcorn machine like the movies had until one night it caught on fire and we had to go fire on board ship mode. We got out fairly fast because you really do not want a fire on board ship, needless to say the move had to be canceled for another day, and we did not have popcorn any longer. Our ship had a nice looking mess deck, the ceiling had ceiling tiles that covered up all the pipes running across it, I know one day I went aboard the Alamo that was tied up next to us and their mess deck just had painted pipes, speakers and conduit.
- Surprise on board the USS Monticello (harbin77.wordpress.com)
- Back Over For Another Tour. (harbin77.wordpress.com)