BIGELOW MOTORS AND THE NATIONAL GUARD
When I graduated from high school I got a job working for Bigelow Motors in Belleville as a mechanic. I went from Bigelow Motors in Belleville to County Auto Sales in Jersey City. I stayed there until I bought my own business. But I have to regress a little bit by what I was saying. During that period of time I joined the National Guard and I used to go away for two weeks and I had to go away for basic training. They put me in the medics after my basic training, but being a young fellow wanting to have fun, I went out with the boys. We got drunk, didn’t report back to duty and when we did get back to duty a couple days later the officers said, “No more for you in the medics. You’re going to be a cook.” So they sent me to be a cook. Now could you imagine a mechanic with dirty hands being a cook? Well one day I was cooking and a lieutenant came up for inspection. Mechanics get dirt implanted in their hands and you just don’t get them out by washing them. He said, “Let me see your hands.” He had a fit and said, “How could this man be cooking with hands like that?” But that didn’t go anywhere. He reprimanded me. He reprimanded the first sergeant who’s in charge of the cooks.
They decided that they were going to send me to cook and baker school. When I was in cook and baker school there was a cook and it was the first time I encountered a man with an earring in his ear and he said he was a first class chef, that he had cooked in the White House and all over the world. He was in the Army now and he was a teacher. I asked him, “Sergeant, how come every time we cook ham…” – and the way they cooked ham in those days, in the Army, was that they boiled the ham in vinegar and water to get the salt out. Well after boiling it we took it out and we put cloves, brown sugar. If we had pineapple we put pineapple, oranges on it and baked it. After baking it and then taking it out we had to slice it. When we’d go to slice it, it smelled and I didn’t like the smell from the ham. I said to the sergeant, “Why do we get the smell?” He said, “Do you de-bone it?” I said, “No.” He said, “Well you’re getting the smell from the marrow in the bone. Go back and tell your mess sergeant, to de-bone the ham and you won’t get the smell.”
I went back to the sergeant and he said, “I’m not de-boning the ham. You’ll slice it the way it is and you’ll put up with the smell.” The other thing I didn’t like in cooking was cleaning chickens. We used to pull the insides of the chicken out and I detested that and for a long time I didn’t eat chicken. For years I didn’t each chicken. Also, wherever I would carve a turkey because my father taught me how to carve a turkey, I wouldn’t eat turkey. Until this day, if I cut the turkey or carve a turkey whatever you want to call it, I do not eat the turkey. If I don’t cut the turkey, I will eat the turkey.