Oregon daily emerald. (Eugene, Or.) 1920-2012, February 02, 1943, Page 6, Image 6

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    Essay on Chow
(Private Randall was a sopho
more itt journalism at Oregon
last year, and is now at Fort
Lewis, Washington. These are
his private sentiments on chow.
.—Ed.)
B> Private Vernon R. Randall
4»/jf'OME, fellows, it is several
4 minutes past the hour.
Time for us to adjourn for our
meal," in the best Etonian man
net', is not the way one becames
informed of meal time in the
army. More likely, it is: "Jesus
Christ, the line will be backed
Hip to the attic!” Then begins a
scramble that would make the
five o’clock rush look like a cor
set-hound minuet. I know. The
first few times I acted as the
girgplank from the squad room
to die mess hall.
After the rush to tire mess nail
door, which no one ever reaches
as there are always a hundred
met’ ahead, one stands patiently
waiting for the Great Door to
open.
This waiting is a chummy af
fair, I have made some interest
ing acquaintances from it. It
usually begins by looking down
at: the place where your feet are
supposed to be and finding vari
ous and sundry sorts of shoes,
with legs in them, hiding your
own. tootsies from the sun. Then
you gradually carry your gaze
up. speculating all the way as to
what you will meet at the top of
th torso. If the trip is short, you
co ; usually prepare to curl a lip
and mutter: "Crowdin' a little,
ain’t yoh, bud?” On the other
h i, if you find yourself grad
ual, y twisting your neck to peer
into higher climes, then prepare
a well phrased statement to the
effect: Do you mind? In some
cases it is best to remain silent,
adding, if you like, a Slight curl
of the lip and a furrowed brow.
Tr se seldom penetrate.
Then comes the great moment!
Ti - Great Door swings open. Art
ists have, for centuries, tried to
Catch emotional impact behind
such occasions. Tschaikowsky's
"ft th Symphony.” the rich lines
ejujpioyeJ in the paintings of
It ibrandt Van Rijn, and oven
a t’.i' le of Beethoven’s “Moonlight
Sa nta,” trickle in to partially
convoy the spirit. Yes, the Great
Do./1 is opened. After that, this
sec riiing mass becomes a whole,
like a hopped-up jelly-fish, cov
ering everything as it moves. I
dc not know what my individual
reactions are for those brief few
secrmd.3 In the army one loses
his identity, they say, but never
quite so completely as during the
Charge of the Mess hall brigade.
Somehow, you find yourself
sitting at a long, spotless, wooden
table. It doesn’t remain spotless
very long. Usually it is the sugar
first, then someone becomes a
little too anxious with the large,
metal pitcher of coffee. From
then on, the spots begin to
merge.
If you are meek-mannered, or
even plainly “mannered,” the
veneer soon wears off after a few
sessions at the table. It is a “sur
vival of the fittest,” and some
thing inside says in the most res
olute manner: Go to it; you, too,
can be a chow-hound. A few dis
traught stomach muscles can do
much to disturb the placid theo
ries of Emily Post.
jyjAINLY, one must develop a
1 technique. In the mess hall
it is “King's X" on “by the num
bers.” The "Fork-mid-air-thrust”
works for many men. It requires
alertness. As the platter skims
by, one must be prepared to give
his all and bring his work from
a raised position into the center
of the platter, twist it, and with
draw as quickly as possible with
whatever he has managed to har
poon.
Some of the fellows declare it
is quite a simple procedure when
using the “open - palm - thumb -
lock.” This has its advantages
in that the palm is held at the
same level as the container be
ing passed. As it streaks across
the Individual’s palms, the thumb
must act as a bi'ake, clasping it
self over the edge in such a man
ner as to halt the container’s
passage. However, during the
course of a meal, the thumb be
comes overly abused, developing
a lobster-red from its constant
frying, boiling and steaming in
the various containers that are
passed.
Having gotten at least a few
morsels of food on your plate,
you settle down to the anticipat
ed event of eating. I may add
here that it is best to ignore the
gravy when it is passed. Butter
on your potatoes serves just as
well, and is considerably more
palatable. Of course you learn
to sprinkle salt on everything in
your plate before starting to eat,
even on the dessert, which you
have tucked around the outskirts
of the main meal in your plate.
There is nothing you can do about
the coffee. The boys in '17 could
do nothing about it, and this
generation seems destined for
the same quagmire. Just drink it
and keep your mind occupied with
other things. My own personal
formula for dispelling the “G.I.”
taste of coffee is to evolve
schemes by which I would dis
pose of the German paper-hanger
and his East-side crowd. Some of
the men simply hum “Home
Sweet Home."
rjiHE conversation at the table
J is varied in subject, seldom
the entire table discussing the
relative merits of one particular
issue. Somebody is usually con
cerned about their own sex life.
Another is leading a tirade
against the “sarge.” Others may
be entwined in last year's discus
sion of “For Whom the Bell
Tolls," or whether the Garand ri
fle is much of an improvement
over the Springfield. Usually the
meal ends with the man who is
discussing this sex life still hold
ing forth, and a few novice
“learners-of-facts” ti’ying to look
indifferent, though their wrinkly
red ears belie the fact.
Before the meal is over, how
ever, one is afforded the oppor
tunity of observing men, their
appetites and what they do with
them. Too, you notice, peculiar
eating habits and customs.
Men from southern states al
ways seem to glow like an over
watted electric light bulb when
corn on the cob is served. They
will eat perhaps a half-dozen
ears, and then begin their main
meal, more corn ears. Their meth
od of attack is quite plain. They
bite, withdraw, munch and bite
again. I have never caught them
swallowing their food. At times,
under close surveillance, I have
wondered if they have pockets
in their cheeks.
There are extravagant eaters,
thrifty eaters, neat eaters, clum
sy eaters and slovenly eaters. The
extravagant eater can be noted
by the amount of butter he plac
es on the edge of his plate. The
thrifty eater eats moderately,
which does necessarily mean del
icately, and leaves the table with
half of the cake or cookies in his
pocket for future reference. The
neat eater allots a certain amount
of space on his plate for each
kind of food that is served, and
looks like a divinity student
throughout the meal, praying that
each kind of food remains in its
separate domain, and not gradu
ally mix together. The clumsy
eater is the man who knocks your
half-pint of milk to the floor with
his elbow, hands you the coffee,
asks for the toast, and feeds his
lower lip a spoonful of Wlieaties
at the same time. The slovenly
eater is a composite of the afore
mentioned varieties, and is suc
cessful in each of the spheres.
There is one other variety of
eater, considered far below any
Russian Warfare By Caldwell
AL-.'j NIGHT LONG by Erskine
C uldwell Duell, Sloan, and
Pierce. $2.50.
"All Night Long,” Erskine
Caldwell's latest, is a striking ex
ample of a good witter gone very
wrong indeed,
Mr. Caldwell had a let of ex
cel nit material on Russia. He
spout some time on the Russian
Front atvl doubtless encountered
many of the “Partisan” guerillas
about which he writes so melo
dramatically He wrote an eye
witness factual account of his
exa .ii r. -es in Russia, called “All
Out on the Road to Smolensk.”
r ed with, the heroism of Rus-'
Hi an with the bloody holocausts,
the brutality of the Nazis, he
pt ’ged head first into a novel
i\>. • was intended to give the
Russians the full share of credit
due to them.
The idea was fine. But Cald
well used a "Tobacco Road" tech
nique of omitting no act of bes
tiality in its full horror; blood
and gore flow in copious streams
throughout the book; murder
upon murder and horror upon
horror are piled to the point of
the ridiculous. Understatement
rather than overstatement would
have been much more effective.
The best expression of the Rus
sian sentiment towards the Ger
mans is given in one of the mild
est passages of the book. Two
Nazi soldiers are talking: One
says:
'T don't like the looks of things.
Did you ever notice how . these
Russian peasants look at us? Ev
eryone I've ever seen acts as
though all he thinks about is
how many bullets it’s going to
take to kill you. Even the chil
dren that are no taller than your
thumb have that same kind of
strange look in their faces.”
But the rest of the book is a
rather confused tale full of pas
sages such as this:
‘‘The throat had been cut in a
straight line above the Adam's
apple . . . their bodies, bored with
steel-tipped bullets . . . fluttered
to the ground like insects.”
‘‘When he was jerked to his
feet, there was a crimson stain
on the ground and blood ran from
his ear and soaked his jacket."
“Then she came leaping over
the body in the doorway and fell
into his arms."—C. G.
Gkoo-UecH eMoHesi Qkkhfet
Bridget says the moon is just
A piece of pumpkin rind, a Crooked
Holler man once chucked into the sky.
A’course she never saw the man,
But once when she
Was just a little gal, she saw
The stump that he was sittin' on
The time he slung the rind' across
A row of pines,
As high, as high most
Any tree can grow.
But Pa says Bridget’s got a pixy
In her brain, and can’t
Be trusted for her talk.
But he don’t know—
He ain’t from Crooked Holler.
And Bridget says
All folk from Crooked Holler
Got the pixies in their souls,
’Cause all the wondrous things
Have witched them there,
Until they just can’t leave.
But Bridget left
And came and wedded up
With brother Jake, but she
Aint like us,
’Cause the pixy whispers
To her all the time
Of Crooked Holler folk.
That’s what she said to me
One day
When we had gone
To hunt for mushrooms.
But we didn't find them,
’Cause she got to crying,
And ran away and cried
Until my brother Jake
Went out and found her.
But she’s alright;
I like to hear her talk of all
The folk in Crooked Holler,
That she used to know.
But best of all
I like it when she gets her fiddle,
That her pa made out
Of resin wood,
And plays
The Crooked Holler tunes.
—Peggy Overland.
of the preceding;. He is the “cinch
eater,” the little man who never
replenishes the empty bowl. If
most of the members at the ta
ble are buck-privates, this indi
vidual may often be identified by
sti'ipes worn on the sleeve. If the
assembly is composed of more
variety, this individual may go
un-noticed for several meals, or
until each member at the table
has served a few rounds between
kitchen and mess hall. At this
point, nerves become tense. A cold
meal does something to one’s
frame of mind, particularly when
it was a hot meal when you
placed it in your plate. Everyone
becomes suspicious of the other
man. Come to think of it, didn't
he hand me a plate that was al
most empty at the last meal, each
will think. Finally, each man be
gins to pin plans of settlement
on this man and that, and when
you do corner that “other man,”
he will say: "Why not let me get
more potatoes? I believe I did
take the next to the last one.”
And so you bellow: “Aw, no, I
can get it all right,” waiting for
Courtesy of the British
Army!
"FLYING
FORTRESS"
Richard Greene
and
"Omaha Trail"
James Craig
Panela Blake
EZZjESa
Now Playing!
"MY FAVORITE
WIFE"
with
IRENE DUNNE
also
“IRENE AND VERNON
CASTLE”
Ginger Rogers
Fred Astaire
Literary Page Staff:
Editor: Carol Greening
Contributors:
Pvt. Vernon Randall
Peggy Overland
him to insist. He doesn’t. I often
think of the refrain, “Oh, la~*^
lord, fill the flowing bowl . .
and wonder if there were ever
such a person.
The meal wears itself to a slow
death. Men wander out, carrying
their plate and utensils with them
to the kitchen. Each man scrapr^J
out that portion of his meal tha\.
rang up “No Sale” with his ap
petite into a large garbage can.
The dishes are stacked and each
man lazily tosses his eating uten
sils into a separate tray filled
with water. He turns to adjourn
to his bunk. A delayed splash of
water jumps across his neck. He
indifferently saunters on. His
stomach follows him faithfully.
... Of what inexorable cause
makes Time so vicious in his
reaping.—E. A. Robinson.
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