Pizza Night

 The galley range was a marvel of 1950’s engineering technology.  It was a commercial duty, electric, forced convection type range, big enough to park a Volkswagen in and built like a tank.  What made it a Forced Convection type was the fact that the back of the interior of the oven was ductwork for a fan.  The fan circulated the hot air in the oven, making it bake fast and evenly.

 You all remember that boat pizza was square and not round.  This was due to the universal food preparation pans the Navy used.  They were stainless steel, large and rectangular.  Pizza was square.  Cake was square. Jello was square, and so on.  The pans were sized such that three pans would fit easily into the oven, but you could squeezed in a fourth pan and get the door closed.  There in lies the rub, literally.

 Closing the door on four pans pushed the false back of the oven into the fan, which would squeal like a stuck hog.  Predictably, Sonar would report self-generate noise to Control, and Control would call the Galley to shutdown the range.  The duty cook would then call Maneuvering to get an electrician to “fix it”.  An electrician would be dispatched to the galley, the range would be secured and tagged-out, then cooled down.  Once cooled down the oven could be disassembled and the fan duct bent back into the proper shape so that it wouldn’t rub on the fan.  After that, the range would be reassembled, the tag-out removed, and the oven placed back into operation.   Elapsed time; about an hour and half to two hours, give or take. 

Now on Pizza Night, the crew would not tolerate a two-hour gap in pizza delivery, so the commissary department was under the gun to continuously bake pizza.  It was also common for the duty pizza baker to watch the movies while the pizzas were baking.  So he was often tempted to try for four pizzas, especially if the “Amazon Queen” was showing (again).

 One pizza night in particular, the duty pizza baker was CSSN “Pizza Baker”, a good Jewish boy from NYC.  Being from NYC, Pizza Baker had a stereotypical New Yorker response to every situation.  He was never at a loss for words, which were often offensive, abrasive and always loud, and he almost always got in the last word. 

Early in the evening, Maneuvering got the call – send an electrician to the galley.  As it happens, the available electrician was EM1 (SS) Kenny “No Stars” (as opposed to the Blue crew COB, MCPO Kenny “Two Stars”).  Kenny “No Stars” never did any electrical stuff without his trusty sidekick, Billy.  So Kenny “No Stars” and Billy go to the galley.  As usual, Billy fixes the range while Kenny “No Stars” instructs Pizza Baker on the proper operation of the ships service electric range.  The range is fixed, Kenny “No Stars” and Billy retire to the E-Div bench, and Pizza Baker goes back into pizza production, with much verbal support from the crew.

 No sooner do Kenny “No Stars” and Billy reach AMR2UL then they are re-directed right back to the galley.  It seems that the range has mysteriously broken again.  While Billy fixes the range, Kenny “No Stars” reiterates his previous admonitions about electric range operation with emphasis on the number of pans per load out.  This devolves into a verbal judo contest between Kenny “No Stars” and Pizza Baker.  The range is again fixed so Billy collects the tools and heads out.   Kenny “No Stars” follows, but not without a parting comment.  He stands astride the galley door and, in a voice loud enough to be heard in the galley and the entire crews mess, he tells Pizza Baker, “The next time you call, I’m gonna send Winterfeldt and Stoltz, and you know how the Germans feel about ovens and Jews.” 

The mess decks roared.  Pizza Baker took umbrage at this comment and stomped out of the galley and down to the Ward Room, only to find that the incident had already been reported by phone, and the officers, including the XO, were also rolling on the floor.

 Charlie Winterfeldt

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