The Old Mess Hall!
By Joe Lipsius - Hq 272nd Inf Rgt
I remember with much pleasure my first encounters with the Mess Hall of
Co C, 32nd Inf Trng Bn, IRTC, Camp Croft, SC, just outside of Spartanburg, SC.
For almost 2 years prior to entering the army, I was living in
Montgomery, AL. on my own, eating
catch as catch can, in restaurants, cafes, a Morrison's Cafeteria, drug store
soda fountains, hole-in-the-wall hamburger and hot dog joints. There were no
fast-foods! I think maybe a Toddle
House, but I am not sure.
The Mess Hall, just a few steps from my barracks, fed around 200 men from
Company C, three square meals a day on a regular basis, all hot and steaming
except for Sunday night cold cuts.
The major-dormo of the Mess Hall was a Sergeant Stout, a regular army
veteran of many years, who took pride in feeding his men what I soon called
"Good Chow." I was always
trying to get in the Mess Hall early for each meal and would be among the
lingering eaters which earned me a name as a "Chow Hound." My taste for Sgt. Stouts's food soon paid dividends.
I began to gain weight and went from a paltry 112 pounds to about 125
which my father and sister noted on my first visit after being in the army about
The Mess Hall had its bad side, though. That was when you had to work kitchen police, better known as "KP." By some magic formula which was never explained, we all had our turn working in the kitchen in various jobs such as "firing the boiler", working the "pots and pans" sink, etc. After three or four turns at "KP," I finally earned Sgt. Stout's respect to the point he offered to make me a cook if I wanted to work in the kitchen. I said, "No thanks, Sarge, Sir. I like the food and I don't mind the kitchen work, but I like close-order drilling and marching better so I'll stick to doing it."