Curator's Corner Blog

Monthly Archives: July 2013

That’s a Mouthful.. or 500…

Sometimes “serves 4” isn’t enough. Take the recipes in these two cookbooks, for instance.

The Cook's Recipe Manual for Navy, ARmy, Air Force, etc.; 2012.012.003 Collection of Historical Museum at Fort Missoula; 1943.

The Cook’s Recipe Manual for Navy, Army, Air Force, etc.; 2012.012.003 Collection of Historical Museum at Fort Missoula; 1943.

The Cook’s Recipe Manual for Navy, Army, Air Force, Munitions Plants, Camps, and Schools specializes in recipes for large groups – think cafeteria large. It was published during the war, when camps were cropping up as men and women joined the military, and the publishers assumed that some of these camp canteens would not necessarily be run by those experienced with meal preparation on such a vast scale. The book includes all sorts of helpful tips on making the most of every ingredient and how to vary the menu so soldiers or workers wouldn’t be eating canned peaches and oatmeal every single morning. Here, the book informs how many pounds of meat you can pull from each side of beef:

From The Cook's Recipe Manual, 2012.012.003. Collection of HSWM.

From The Cook’s Recipe Manual, 2012.012.003. Collection of HMFM.

You can understand how a commercial kitchen might need to serve 100 people, but imagine the kind of party where you’d need to serve 2,000, and imagine cooking it all in huge kettles outdoors. Here’s how The Southern Cookbook: 322 Old Dixie Recipes suggests you make the traditional Kentucky stew “burgoo”:

Collection HMFM - 2011.056.011AB

Collection HMFM – 2011.056.011AB

Who’s the lucky guy who gets to peel those two tons of potatoes?!

We’re always tickled to see these recipes for unimaginable quantities of food. Why not publish a recipe that serves fewer, and assume your readers will scale up if they need 1,200 gallons? We can only guess that no self-respecting host would bother with a burgoo unless he was hosting the whole town. Bon Appetit!

Leisure at the Fort during WWII

While many of us know about the American citizens of Japanese ancestry who were forced into detention centers during World War II, most people don’t know about the other “prisoners of war” held in U.S. wartime prisons. In April and May 1941, several hundred Italian nationals arrived by train at Fort Missoula. Others arrived as the year progressed (mostly merchant seamen, plus workers from the New York World Fair and the crew of an Italian luxury liner), eventually bringing the population of Italians at the Fort to around 1,200. They remained there until early 1944, when most of Italy had been liberated by the Allies, sharing the grounds with a small number of Japanese resident aliens who were not transferred to another internment center.

During the three years these men were detained at the Fort, they tried to make a life for themselves. Many of them worked (as pickers in the beat fields, or cutting roads with the Forest Services). They were allowed to go into town periodically, shopping or out to the movies. But most of their time was spent in camp, and coming up with ways to pass the time was a huge part of life as a prisoner.

The men played games, like bocce, checkers, and cards, as well as soccer and golf. They pursued the dramatic arts, staging plays and orchestral performances. Fishing was popular with both Italian and Japanese-American internees.

Though land-locked in the Northern Rockies, for some of the merchant marines, the sea was clearly on their minds. Several took up wood carving, and their subjects focused on the ocean – sailboats and ships. Despite their difficult surroundings, these men carved works of remarkable beauty. We are lucky that two examples survive in the collection of the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula, as well as several photographs.

Ship built by Fort Missoula internee. Kenneth, Douglas, and Katharine Pope Collection. HSFM 2001.029

Ship built by Fort Missoula internee. Kenneth, Douglas, and Katharine Pope Collection. HSFM 2001.029

Wooden boat art made by Fort Missoula internee. Kenneth, Douglas, and Katharine Pope Collection. HSFM 2011.029.1

Wooden boat art made by Fort Missoula internee. Kenneth, Douglas, and Katharine Pope Collection. HSFM 2011.029.1

Peter Fortune Memorial Collection. HSFM 2001.048.152

Peter Fortune Memorial Collection. HSFM 2001.048.152

Peter Fortune Memorial Collection. HSFM 2001.048.153.

Peter Fortune Memorial Collection. HSFM 2001.048.153.

Peter Fortune Memorial Collection. HSFM 2001.048.154.

Peter Fortune Memorial Collection. HSFM 2001.048.154.

Men work on boat carvings. Collection of HMFM.

Men work on boat carvings. Note the carvings hanging on the wall in the background. Collection of HMFM.

Peter Fortune Memorial Collection. HSFM 2001.048.155.

Peter Fortune Memorial Collection. HSFM 2001.048.155.