Current look back at the home front

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My Years of Eating Dangerously

by: William Jeanes, former editor-in-chief of ‘Car and Driver’

Marie Osmond told me on tv that she lost 50 lbs. eating prepackaged meals sent to her home, and not too long ago, the nation’s first lady ran off the White House pastry chef.  That reminded me of childhood mealtimes and my grandmother’s nutritional malfeasance.

Until well after WWII ended, I lived on 6th Street in Corinth, MS, with my grandparents.  Two aunts also lived with us.  All the men were in the Pacific, leaving my grandfather (Pop), to provide.  My grandmother (Mom), ran the house.

Pop was a superb provider.  He worked as a carpenter for the TVA and had a green B sticker on his car’s windshield, meaning that we had income and gasoline.  He also had a green thumb and grew green vegetables in a huge backyard garden.  Pop also fished, and he put fresh bream and crappie on our big dining room table at least twice a week.  He also oversaw a backyard chicken house that delivered eggs as well as raw material for the big, black frying pan that dominated Mom’s cooking.

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Mom was a canner and preserver.  We had – in what seemed to be endless quantity – green beans, pickled beets, peaches, strawberry preserves, and goodness knows what else.

Mom supplemented this bounty by going to the tiny Kroger store once a week for meat, which was rationed, and such staples as Luzianne coffee, Domino sugar, Clabber Girl baking powder and Crisco shortening.

Many things were served fried: chicken, green tomatoes, fish and pork chops.  Steak, scarce in wartime, was “chicken-fried.”  Meatloaf was baked of course, as was macaroni and cheese.

Mom always overcooked the steak and pork chops.  In those times, the idea of a rare steak or hamburger could disgust whole neighborhoods.  A typical summer meal included fried fish, tomatoes, green beans or butter beans and turnip greens or collards.  I hated greens more than I hated Tojo or Hitler.  If we had salad, it was a wedge of iceberg lettuces doused with French dressing, an orangey liquid unknown in France.

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Modern nutritionists would hyperventilate just thinking about what we ate in the 1940’s.  On the healthy side were the vegetables and greens that were available 6 months out of the year.  From there, things went nutritionally sideways.  Nowadays my grandparents would be guilty of child abuse.

Can you imagine a germ-laden hen house in a backyard of today?  How about wringing the neck of a chicken on the back steps?  Those activities would have brought the SWAT teams from PETA and the EPA pouring through our front door.

The Dept. of Agriculture never inspected Pop’s garden, let alone the hen house, and Mom adhered to no federal guidelines when it came to canning and cooking and cake making.  As fore fried food, the only questions were, “Is it crisp enough?” and “May I have some more?”

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Out house was heated by coal, we drank non-homogenized milk and we rarely locked doors.  It’s a wonder I wasn’t overcome by fumes, poisoned or stolen by gypsies.  Yet we survived.  Pop lived to be 88 and Mom 82.  Both aunts made it well past 80 and I was 77 on my last birthday. [This was originally published in Sept/Oct. 2015].

That’s what 400 year’s worth of fried chicken and beet pickles can do for you.

Condensed from the Saturday Evening Post.

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 Military Humor – on their food – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Arthur – Louisville, KY; USMC, WWII, PTO

Charlton ‘Chuck’ Cox – Seattle, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-17 navigator/Korea06062012_AP120606024194-600

Edward Fuge – Otaki, NZ; RNZ Navy, WWII

Delva Gess – Chewelah, ID; USO, WWII

Roy Hart – Saskatchewan, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, CBI & ETO

Cecil Jarmer – Portland, OR; US Navy, WWII, CBI

George Macneilage – San Bernadino, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Div., artillery

Nita Rinehart – Ashtabula, OH; US Navy, WWII WAVES, WWII

Ernest Sprouse Jr. – Knoxville, TN; US Navy, WWII, USS Frost

Gene Wilder, Milwaukee, WI; US Army, (beloved actor)

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on September 1, 2016, in Home Front, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 163 Comments.

  1. Fresh eggs every day, unaltered chickens to eat, fresh vegetables from their garden…
    (sigh) Noted the pump by the sink for water; interesting that they had well water, not from a treatment plant.
    Until my teens, (1966) growing up in AZ, a neighbor had a chicken coop; I vaguely remember a clean caged in area perhaps 60 ft from the house. Recall sometimes being awakened on a Saturday morning by his rooster. Then at some point I guess the city must have changed the local ordinance forbidding that. An early example of government not minding its own business.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I remember those days pretty much and miss mom’s cooking [though sometimes her concoctions were pretty weird!], before you know it we will be eating Soylent Green……

      Like

  2. Marie gets paid for eating food out of a box

    Like

  3. What a story
    And it’s so true
    My father wouldn’t eat the meat unless it was burnt
    Well I guess it’s all in how we choose to look at it
    But I don’t care what she says
    Remember she also gets paid
    Sheldon

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Now I don’t feel so bad about letting my son eat fried chicken yesterday.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I know I’ve already commented on this post, but I had to come back to it – it reminds me of a feature in the newsletter that goes out to Tin Can Sailors – those who have served on destroyers in the u.S. Navy. The feature is “That Good Navy Grub” and is the formulas used by cooks aboard the ships for the food served the crew. Naturally, given the context, the portions are crew-sized!

    Thank you again for your many visits to my blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for coming back! I’m sure the cuisine was much better when they didn’t have a few extra passengers on it, eh?!! 🙂 And there is no need to thank me for my visits – It’s MY pleasure!!

      Like

  6. Loved this post! I’ve just finished writing “Hard Times in the Heartland”, a novel based on my dad’s letters from the Depression and WW II. The research for that book was a great reminder what our dear folks went through then for our freedoms today. If you’re interested, “Hard Times is available in e-reader and paperback on Amazon.com

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I loved this piece! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s kind of refreshing to see a kitchen without a automatic dishwasher…The human kind is obsolete. :/

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Yes, makes you wonder how we survived so long.;:-)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I really enjoyed this post GP as it took me to your old youthful days and how you were fed during the way. Fully agree with you that these days if we kept hens in our garden, we will have to deal with government agencies etc. This is like your memoirs GP and you are great at 77 years old to be diligently posting regularly!! Thanks for a lovely read and share.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. hee hee … They ate like that, but were not prototype Michelin-men in appearance!
    What say the nutritionists about that?! Inquiring minds want to know!

    Liked by 1 person

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