Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Barter was a way of life between the sailors and the natives in the South Pacific during World War II. After we captured an island the natives were no longer our enemies. They were our trading partners.

On one island we occupied the natives loved canned pineapple even though the same fruit flourished in their fields. We traded canned for fresh and both sides got the better of the deal.

There was never a shortage of food on our small minesweeper. Provisions ships came into port loaded with meat, chickens, eggs, tropical chocolate and beer that tasted flat warm or cold. We couldn't tell the provision ship's crew what we wanted. They unloaded on our small ship enough food to feed the fleet. Why? The sooner they unloaded the sooner they returned empty back to their base at Pearl Harbor.

Sides of beef that wouldn't fit in our freezer were stored on deck in the blazing sun until they turned rancid and were tossed overboard. Meanwhile, we had steak three meals a day as long as the meat was safely edible.

We played a game of skill with surplus eggs. We'd toss one egg in the air and try to hit it with another egg on the way down. Five egg omelets and steak were a favorite breakfast.

No matter how much food we had, we craved fresh fish. It was plentiful in the waters around us. We had no fishing gear so we took a bucket, drilled holes in it, tied a piece of pork in the bottom and a line to the handle. The bucket was lowered over the side of the ship and small fish took the bait and dove in.

When the bucket was full, we pulled it out of the sea and dumped the fish live into boiling fat. In minutes they were crispy brown and we ate them like candy, Unseasoned, uncleaned, ungutted, they were the best fish we ever tasted.


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