My dad ate an egg every morning ever since I could remember. He'd heat the skillet, crack an egg into it and wait for the whites to cook before scrambling the egg. Later when I saw Julia Child cooking omelets on TV I wondered why Dad didn't whisk his eggs before he cooked them.
Mom once whispered that it was because of the War.
Dad was in the Coast Guard during World II, which falls under control of the Navy during war time. He was stationed in the Marshal Islands and he had lots of pictures--baracks, ships, beaches, palm trees, servicemen and even a little dog on board the ship, but not surprisingly no photos of war time food.
During the war eggs were in short supply. Service men ate reconstituted powdered eggs every morning and they also ate plenty of dehydrated potatoes, spam, oats, rice and S.O.S. (shit on a shingle)--"creamed" chipped beef on toast. Not much in the way of fresh vegetables and fruits, but dad did say they ate tropical fruit on the island.
He married Mom when he was leave.
Beyond grilling Dad about war time menus, I didn't think much about his service until I read Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. This riveting tale follows the life of Louis Zamperini an Olympic runner and World War II bombardier whose plane went down in the Pacific Ocean. After crashing into the ocean, Louis and two other men survive on a life raft with sharks up to 20 feet long circling and leaping aboard. One man dies on the raft and the two that survive get "rescued" by the Japanese who brutalize them in war camps until the end of the war.
Hillenbrand's vivid details and compelling narrative made me wonder about Dad's service in the Pacific. Dad wasn't the pack rat that Louis Zamperini was (this article says his scrapbook alone weighs 63 pounds!), but Dad had pictures, a Navy manual and this old cigar box filled with a photographs, and a newsletter called "The Martial Air."
The war in the Pacific was called "The Pacific-Asiatic Theatre." The picture of the Japanese military man says AdmiralYamamoto--handwritten on the back. I did a google search and learned he's the man who planned the attack on Pearl Harbor and coordinated the war in the Pacific. I wish I knew the story behind the picture and how it ended up in Dad's treasure box.
The only story I know is that once when a boat that Dad was on capsized, he swam at least five miles to shore and sent a rescue boat out to pick up his crew mates. I'm not sure about sharks in the water, but maybe my dad earned his nickname "The Shark," earlier than I imagined.
My uncle (below with Mom and Dad) was a bombardier during the war and flew 50 missions over Germany in a B17, apparently a much more reliable plane than the B24, called a flying coffin by Zamperini.
Unbroken is hero's journey wrapped in a roller coaster tale where Japanese POWs were lucky to come out of the camps alive. This book gave me a new perspective about a war I had little knowledge about, and it gave me so much more reason to be grateful for life which so many people take for granted.
I'm pretty sure dad would think the eggs I buy at the market are way too expensive. A frugal soul, Dad grew up during the Depression and when I learned that nonrated servicemen during the Navy earned only $54 a month--I totally get why Dad was a saver and opted for cheaper options at the grocery store.
But I love these eggs and I like the that my money helps support local farms.