Mess Cooking On The Mighty John C.

By Jarard G. Powers

Printed in the exact words of the author without any real changes.


It was in the early part of 1962 and of course we were heading North for ocean station duty. I had reported aboard the previous October from boot camp and hadn't been assigned to mess cook duty, but was for this trip. The John C was better known as the CGC Spencer, a 327' white one stationed out of Base St George, Staten Island NY. I understand that the base is long gone as is the John C.

We always seemed to have potatoes for every meal and it required quite a number of them to feed the crew.

The slop chute was located on the port side, close to the galley and that is where we normally peeled the spuds, but not this day. The ship was equipped with a brand new air defense radar and we were told that the ship could only handle a 48 degree roll as the new radar had upset the balance or something. I never did find out who came up with that bit of information, but I can assure you that we blew that theory out of the water

The cook, Tiny, weren't they all called that, told me to come in the compartment forward of the galley to do my job as it was too rough to be outside. It was a little rough and water was pouring over the deck.

We would have a bucket with the potatoes in it, one for the peelings, one to sit on and a pan for the finished product, either whole, halved, or however the cook wanted them. Naturally everything other than the bucket used as a seat had water in it.

You are probably beginning to get the picture, dumb deck ape sitting on a bucket in the middle of the compartment . When the John C. takes a roll to starboard, a 52 degree roll to starboard, and if that wasn't good enough, we took one to port for good measure.

The roll to starboard put me in motion and I flew into the starboard bulkhead, as I looked up there were spuds, peelings and water all coming to me and they found there target. I then slid across the deck into the port bulkhead and those damned spuds were still with me, or should I say all over me?

Tiny heard the commotion and came to see what it was all about. I was trying to get my footing, which was impossible because the ship wouldn't quit rolling. Tiny started laughing and he began to lose his footing and he came down with a thud and started sliding around with me. He seemed to lose his humor about this time and was probably figuring that I had done this on purpose, when someone with a camera snapped a picture. I don't think that we ever made the Coast Guard Times, but the picture was passed around the mess deck for everyone to see.

This is another story from the "Old Guard" of which I'm proud to say I was a member of from 1961-1965.

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