What’s for Dinner?

Your trusty Betty Crocker cookbook has everything you need to know about cooking. It tells you how to check when your kumquats are ripe, how to gut a sturgeon, and what to do with boysenberries. That tattered, dog-eared book has never let you down. Until now. Why? Because 2,500 hungry young men and women are coming over to your place for dinner tonight.

Okay, it’s unlikely you’ll find yourself in this position any time soon. But should 2,500 people stop by for dinner, where would you turn for help? The U.S. Navy! The Navy has spent the last couple of centuries perfecting the art of cooking for big crowds.

These WWI-era Sailors help out by peeling thousands pf potatoes.

These WWI-era Sailors help out by peeling thousands pf potatoes.

Few chefs look to the Navy for culinary inspiration. This is because the Navy’s gastronomic reputation was sealed from the start. Early Navy recipes for salt horse, potted pigeon, and a boiled bread called “drowned baby” were meals only hearty Sailors could stomach.

Galleys have been steadily improving meal quality for the last century, though. A combination of modern cooking technology and an increased understanding of health have brought shipboard naval cooking up to the level of many restaurants.

Today, members of the Navy's culinary team prepare an entree during the Military Culinary Arts Competition. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Daniel Meshel/Released)

Members of the Navy’s culinary team prepare an entree during the Military Culinary Arts Competition.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Daniel Meshel/Released)

Skeptical? Try out a Navy recipe in your own kitchen. Below is a classic from the 1945 “Cookbook of the United States Navy.” It has been modified to feed four, instead of the original 2,500. Conveniently, one needs only two pounds of beef rather than the original 630.8-31 Recipe Card

This One Goes to 12

Exhibits don’t just happen. There is obviously a lot of work that goes into their creation. Even small exhibits require large amounts of research and planning before the drafting and design processes can begin. Research will turn up lost of things, some interesting, some useless, and some quirky. It’s the quirky ones that are the most fun.

The National Museum of the American Sailor, as it looks today.

The National Museum of the American Sailor, as it looks today.

The exhibit in question is one the National Museum of the American Sailor is currently designing about the unique history of its building.

In researching and creating this exhibit, we’ve come across some interesting information. We already knew that this building, formerly called the Hostess House, was never intended to be a museum at all.   It was originally a recreation hall and event space that was later converted to offices. But did you know that in its early days in the 1940s and 50s it also used to be the residence of the woman who ran the Hostess House?

But the strangest thing we discovered is a little detail in this photo of the building taken during the 1950s. Take a look at the sign right in the middle of the picture, next to the silhouette of the man on the stairs.  Click on the image to view it larger.

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A close up of the sign.

A close up of the sign.

The speed limit on the road in front of the building (which isn’t even a road anymore, but our lawn) was 12 mph.   That’s right. 12 miles per hour.  11 was totally reasonable.  But 13 mph?   That’s too fast!

Hall of Fame Flags

If you have ever had the privilege of attending a Navy boot camp Pass-in-Review (graduation) ceremony, you’ve probably seen each division of Sailors march in carrying their division flag. But some divisions may carry additional flags, such as Battle “E”, CNO, or Hall of Fame.

Flag carried by Company 300 of 1952. In the early 1950s, company flags were blue with white numerals.

The flag carried by Company 300 of 195 was the standard blue and white of the early 1950s.

These flags represent additional honors that the division won during the competitive aspects of training. Excellence in academic achievement, military drill, cleanliness, and athletics can all contribute to a division earning recognition. Competition in these areas encourages teamwork among recruits.

Hall of Fame Flag awarded to Company 300 for outstanding achievement and demonstration of “superiority in all phases of their training.”

Hall of Fame Flag awarded to Company 300 for outstanding achievement and demonstration of “superiority in all phases of their training.”

Currently, the Hall of Fame Flag is awarded only to those divisions that achieve an average 4.70 or higher (out of a possible 5.0) on all tests and assessments and have earned all evaluation flags.

The Hall of Fame flag featured was awarded to Company 300 in 1952 when Machinist’s Mate First Class Clarence W. Roszell served as the Company Commander. In order to earn the Hall of Fame flag, Company 300 also had to win the following flags:

  • Five Rooster Flags (the highest weekly award and based upon competition of all lesser flags)
  • Two Regimental Military Drill Flags
  • Three Star Flags (awarded for cleanliness)
  • One “C” Flag (awarded for citizenship)
  • One “I” Flag (awarded for academic success)
  • One “A” Flag (awarded for athletic achievement)
The Sailors of Company 300 show off the many flags they won during competition in boot camp, including the Hall of Fame Flag pictured in front to the right of the Company 300 flag.

The Sailors of Company 300 show off the many flags they won during competition in boot camp, including the Hall of Fame Flag pictured in front to the right of the Company 300 flag.

These flags, along with more than 40,000 other artifacts and archival records, enable the National Museum of the American Sailor to fulfill its mission to collect, preserve, and interpret the history of the United States Navy Sailor. If you have artifacts you believe may be appropriate for the NMAS collection, please download a Donation Proposal Form at http://www.history.navy.mil/museums/greatlakes/collection.htm.

From the Education Desk

The Association of Midwest Museums conference in Cincinnati has left me wondering, how does a military history museum position itself within the community’s educational arena, particularly when its educational focus is centered on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education?

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The answer that keeps coming back to me is, we are in a unique position to export the historical significance of the United States Navy, and demonstrate how STEM concepts play a key role in the that history (indeed, all histories). Clearly Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math factor greatly into the history of the Navy. And, by providing fun and engaging ways of bringing this to the public, we insert ourselves into the local educational arena by reinforcing what is already being offered in the public schools.

We must be creative, original, and fun. How else do you attract students to science classes on a Saturday? But we aren’t an alternative to the public education system. Rather, we try to work in coordination with them and, in doing so, underscore the importance of both types of programming.

While at the conference, I had the opportunity to speak with many museum professionals who had already asked this question to themselves. The feedback was enlightening and encouraging. The most popular response was to coordinate the museum’s efforts with those of a school within the community.  The first step is finding a science or math teacher who is willing to incorporate supplemental programming into their curriculum. At first, this will be on a small scale, perhaps only working with a single class. But as the relationships grow, so might the partnership.

8-10 blog pic 2To this end, the museum’s educational department will be reaching out to science teachers in the community in an effort to engage a willing collaborator. Once found, we will be working with that educator and his/her school to determine how to best serve the students while maintaining the integrity of the participating school’s curriculum. Since we are a more flexible entity, it’s important to for us to support the existing programming rather than try to reinvent the wheel, so to speak.

So, check back with us over the next few weeks to see who we are partnering with, in what direction this partnership is headed, and how we are going to execute our plans. We look forward to sharing the results with you and, of course, if you have any suggestions for us, please leave them in the comments section below.

First In Flight

When most people think of a sailor, they think of a grizzled seaman or a fresh faced recruit leaving home to join the Navy. Most people don’t think of adventurous young women, leaving to serve their country in wartime.

During WWI, over 11,000 young (and not so young) women joined from all over the country to serve as Yeomen (Female) in the United States Naval Reserve Force (U.S. Navy wartime reserves). Although recruited in the Yeoman rating, they worked in a variety of jobs including in the intelligence field, recruiting and as translators.

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One of the young women who joined was Marthe Rosalie Laure Ballot, a lively 28-year-old from Brooklyn, New York. She and her sister Yeomen(F) were assigned at Naval Training Station Great Lakes, Illinois in the Aviation Department and Public Works Department where they worked typing new instruction manuals. Originally recruited by naval officers stationed at Cornell University, the women were asked to transfer to Great Lakes when the aviation school was moved to Illinois.

In April 1919, an office pool was held among the Navy women serving in the Aviation Department at Naval Training Station, Great Lakes, Illinois. The prize: a flight in a Navy Liberty plane piloted by Ensign Applegate, one of the Navy pilots stationed at the base.

On 7 April 1919, literally by the luck of the draw, YN2(F) Ballot was chosen to take a ride in one of the Naval Station’s Liberty aircraft. As exciting as the flight was to Petty Officer Ballot personally, her flight marked her as the first Navy woman to fly in a U.S. Navy plane. During her short, 20 minute flight she marked an unplanned, and quiet, landmark in women’s history.

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Petty Officer Ballot’s comments after returning, “It surely does beat walking, riding in a Ford or traveling on the North Shore Electric to Lake Forest about 14 ways. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t the least bit afraid. From the very start, I made up my mind not to be afraid and I guess I kept my nerve pretty well.”