Second World War: Red Meat Picnic

WAVE reminisces about the lack of red meat during the second World War

| Good Old Days

  • Steak
    Meat was hard to come by during the Second World War — a steak picnic was an unexpected delight for one lucky group of soldiers.
    Photo by Fotolia/vpardi

  • Steak

We were WAVE ensigns stationed at the 13th Naval District Headquarters in Seattle during the second World War. We lived in a Women's Officer Quarters at the naval station where many Navy ships were berthed while awaiting orders or provisions. Our own WAVEs mess was not the best by a long shot - lots of starches, unappetizing stews and goulashes of questionable character. 

We were required to turn in our ration stamps to the mess officer, since we belonged to that mess. How we all longed for a good hearty meal of red meat - a real rarity during wartime. We often ate at the Bachelor Officers Club on the naval station where the food was more appetizing. They catered to the men of our Navy. It was only natural that one would strike up acquaintances with some of these seafarers. On one occasion a group of us was seated at a large table at the Officers Club mess, and several fellows whom we had met before joined us. During dinner we learned that they were about ready to set sail. Someone suggested that we give them a "shoving off" party, so we started to make plans for a picnic at a local park. Heavens! How could we have a decent picnic when we didn't have ration stamps even for hot dogs? Since the picnic was such a good idea, a couple of the fellows told us not to worry. They would provide the "dogs"; we were to serve up the rest of the fixings.

We arrived at the picnic site at the prescribed time and started unpacking the food. Imagine our surprise when we opened up the box of "hot dogs" and found a T-bone steak for everyone. We started cooking these precious morsels with tender loving care, thoroughly savoring that delicious aroma. Shortly, several other picnickers came to our table and enjoyed the smell of our steaks. We were the envy of all these unlucky people, and I always felt bad that we did not have enough to share. I knew the feeling of wanting a return to the good old days when life was normal and one could dine on whatever appealed to him - and no ration stamps.

Cmdr. Evelyn N. (Dene) Sooy
U.S. Naval Reserve (Retired)
San Diego, California

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community. 


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