Waste Not Want Not, the Army Way to Dieting


Our WAC Captain was grumpier than usual as she spoke before all the platoons.   It seemed that a male officer from Washington had inspected the mess halls at Fort Des Moines, Iowa, and had determined “there was too much food wasted.”  The subsequent order was issued to have a guard posted at every garbage can to catch any soldier with too many leftovers on her tray.


Like robots we attempted to finish every morsel on our trays and when we couldn’t eat a bite more some of us lined our pockets with tinfoil to accommodate chunks of beets or Spam.


A month or so later the army scheduled a parade through the streets of downtown Des Moines for a patriotic celebration.  Our Captain had taken her shoes to a civilian establishment to be doctored up in some way and when they were not fully repaired in time for the parade she was forced to borrow a pair of shoes from another officer, who was unfortunately pigeon-toed.


The Captain marched the entire parade in awkward steps and at the end was in a great deal of pain.  On top of that she became livid when a new order came down from some higher-ups that were in the viewing stand that day.


It seemed that it had been noted, “too many WAC uniforms seemed to be bulging in all the wrong places,” so orders were given “to trim down the guilty women.”  The mess halls were to be divided into plump and average soldiers with no desserts being given to the aforementioned obedient tray-cleaners.


The Captain called a meeting and after advising all of us about the new mess hall orders we were dismissed; that is everyone except me


“First they force feed us,” the Captain muttered, “and now they starve us.”


Then she addressed me.  “You are on the south side of the mess hall with the skinny ones.  I am ordering you to take two desserts at every meal and then meet me in back of the mess hall behind the bushes.  You got that?”


I got that.  She got it too, for several months.


I can see her now wiping whipped cream off her smiling face, grumpy no longer.


Mary Elizabeth Mruzik

Pacific, Missouri