Make Up Your Minds, Please!


One of the things a member of the Women’s Army Corps learned in 1941 was that many standing orders were changed after a visit to Fort Des Moines by an inspector from Washington, D.C.


On one occasion, a Colonel interested himself in the goings on in the mess hall.  He thought too much Army food was being wasted by picky eaters who did not clean their trays.  So, he ordered a guard to stand by every trashcan to catch anyone who did finish eating all their fried potatoes and creamed dried beef.  Some of us escaped punishment by lining our pockets with waxed paper and walking out with our concealed leftovers.  Others weren’t so lucky and had to cram down the meals every day.


A month or so later, another diligent inspector arrived.  He witnessed a parade of officers and enlisted women and reported that many of the WACs were too hefty.  With typical efficiency he stopped the “Clean Your Tray Program” and drew a line down the middle of the mess hall.   He ordered the plump women soldiers to sit on one side of the hall and the leaner women to take their means on the opposite side and over-weight personnel were to be denied any dessert.


Since I was among those who were free to eat anything offered I secretly celebrated.  However, my freedom was not to last when I was ordered to Captain Stromberg’s office.  She had been listed at “plumpish” so was more cranky than usual.  She gave me my new orders: “You are to take two desserts at every meal, three if they are small.  You may eat one, but will then proceed to the area behind the mess hall.”  Tha was the “Army Brass” changing orders, as usual.


I can still see her wolfing down the chocolate cake I brought her when no one was looking.


Mary ElizabethMruzik

Pacific, Missouri