It was 1962, and I was assigned to mess duty in the Ammunition Ship, USS Vesuvius, working, washing pots and pans, and doing cleaning duties in the galley with the cooks. The bakeshop, located just forward of the galley, was not in use. The ship ordered bread, pastries, and desserts from a civilian bakery while in port. One of the cooks said it didn’t matter, the baker had transferred and they didn’t have anyone else who could bake.
When I told the First Class Petty Officer (CS1) I wanted to strike for Cook, he told me to submit a request chit to be assigned to the Food Service Division as a cook. He told me not to get my hopes up. The Executive Officer was adamant that every non-designated Seaman serves for at least six months on deck force before permitting them to strike for a rate other than Boatswains Mate…
The following Saturday morning, after the bakery delivery, the CS3 watch captain was upset because the scheduled Apple Pies for Sunday evening dessert hadn’t been delivered. Actually, the Chief Cook had forgotten to order them.
I was always interested in baking, and my mother taught me many recipes. I told him that I could bake pies. He sent me to the bakeshop and I baked apple pies.
Monday morning, Chief Cook comes storming into the galley asking for me. He was carrying one of the pies that I had baked. He asked me if I had baked it. I told him yes and asked if something was wrong with it. He told me no and asked where I had learned to bake. I told him my mother had taught me, and I worked in the Bakeshop at Naval Air Station Lemoore. He told me that I was now the ship’s baker. I told him I am a mess cook. He told me that he was on his way to talk to the Supply Officer about my status and left with the pie in his hand.
I had been the baker for about a month, when the Supply Officer came into the Bakeshop and told me to go shift into the Uniform of the Day and come to the Supply Office. We were going to see the XO about my request to strike for cook.
And that is how I became a Navy Cook and Baker…