Friday, February 25, 2011

Cooking in frozen Korea without a can opener, part 2

Continued from Wednesday. Phil Street, a US Marine cook during the Korean Way, served with the First Marine Division in Korea in 1952 and 1953.

Life in camp: frozen water supply, black coffee and blackout conditions

When we received water in the water buffalos (portable water trailers) that were frozen solid. It became a 250-gallon giant ice cube. We had to climb on top and take a big steel bar to break the ice into chunks so we could melt it to make coffee and cook for the Marines.

The coffee was black. So was the camp as we were close enough to the front lines. No lights could show after dark. We had an enemy plane that we called Bed Check Charlie who would fly over us on cloudy nights and drop out hand grenades.

We always had coffee and something to eat if they wanted it.

We had one cook who for a reason known only to him wanted the truck drivers to get his permission for a cup of coffee. The coffee was made in a 32-gallon GI can. The water was first brought to a boil, then the coffee grounds were dumped in and allowed to settle to the bottom.

We kept a fire under the GI can. The coffee could almost walk on its own as it was so strong.

The cook who wanted permission from the Marine who ran the generator as only the mess tent had lights at night and it was blacked out. The cook had just bought a short wave AM brand all leather bound radio from the PX truck which cost that cost way over $100. The PX truck came around about once per month.

The cook chewed out the Marine because he did not ask first ask permission for a canteen cup of coffee. The Marine went back to the generators, ran it up to 300 volts and blew up the cook's radio. The radio caught fire and never worked again.

The Marine came running over to the mess tent and said that something went wrong and the generator shot up 300 volts. He brought us new light bulbs as the serge burned them all out. He told me later that he did it on purpose as that would teach the cook to not want him to have coffee.

I never did tell the cook what happened to his radio to burn up as he deserved it.

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