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Taken from The Gorgon, Autumn, 2000

The Butcher

Coming aboard as a plankowner seaman, I wound up in the galley. My parents ran a mom-and-pop grocery and butcher shop when I was growing up, so I spoke up when I figured I could provide a skill that seemed to be lacking.

It was Navy policy that submarine crews were to get absolutely topnotch food. It was Euryale's job to see that they did. But our own ship's company and relief crews assigned aboard rarely fell short.

When I wasn't butchering, I pitched in and helped with the cooking. Most of our cooks had previous training and others attended Navy cooks' and bakers' schools. We had a few real chefs from New York City hotels, so we had experts to guide us.

The rule of thumb was that there were about 1100 enlisted men aboard at any one time, so we prepared about 3300 meals a day. We had port and starboard watches, which meant 24 hours on duty, 24 hours off. On holidays, with the heavy cooking load, we doubled up.

Our operating space was tight, and we were really 1imited when it came to roasting ovens, grilles and steam kettles. Menus were carefully planned to be sure we could deliver all the food on time. The commissary steward and the supply officers had to be on the same wavelength regarding quantities and availabilities before our menus could be prepared.

Mast all of our meats and poultry were frozen, so we had to figure thawing time before cooking. Often the beef or poultry was taken out of the freezer a day ahead, and frequently we sliced it frozen on a band saw we kept for that purpose.

I think our supply department did a great job keeping us all well nourished, no matter where our wartime travels took us. We had quality stateside beef and poultry while it lasted, all Grade A. The beef was all boned, so there was no waste. There wasn't much to work with when we ran out of the stateside stuff and we had to rely on local supplies. We were constantly reminded that our submarines had the top priority when it came to stores and rightfully so for the job they were doing. Sometimes we surface sailors survived with second-best. Sometimes, during our stay in Australia, the meat aboard the tender wasn't all that tender. Who will forget those many meals of mutton?

The crew enjoyed fresh vegetables while they lasted. And there were cold-storage eggs. The longer we kept them, the harder it was to crack them out of their shells. Remember sometimes the scrambled eggs were sort of green? You thought that powdered eggs came like that. Nope. Powdered eggs are nice and yellow. It was those real eggs that we'd kept a long time that were green on your tray. Sorry. At times, we did serve powdered everything.

Warren Teichler, chief cook on our watch, used to supervise the chowline, and if a sailor complained about the food, Warren would grab him by the shirt and tell him to move on.

I thought Marcel Giroux, who was acting commissary steward on our trip to Japan, did a terrific job.

Everybody dreaded those white-glove inspections the captain would schedule whenever he was bored. We were ready for him. We'd station a lookout, and when he approached, we would release live steam from 8 steam kettles. Visibility was absolute zero. The skipper would skip through from port to starboard without stopping. We always passed inspection.

THE MIRACLE MAKERS: Among the cooks and bakers currently on our roster, all of them magicians who worked in cramped spaces using whatever was available to keep the rest of us healthy and relatively happy are Paul Acerra, Arthur J. Chiasson, Robert Emerling, Leroy E. Herkey, Edmour Vachon, and Walter Ward.

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