Camp Parks

Camp ParksCAMP PARKS

Before you know it the 30-day leave was over and it was time to go back to Camp Parks. It was easy to get back to Camp Parks. I took the train to Oakland, got off at 14th and Broadway were they had buses that went to Camp Parks. I guess I got there around Noon, just in time for lunch had something to eat and then went up to check in. I then went to my barracks and started to get all my gear out of my sea bags. I guess it was around 2 o’clock when Lima came in and said boy are you lucky. I see you are on a draft headed for Florida. I said you must be kidding; no he said it is on the bulletin board down at headquarters, so I took off and went to see for myself. Sure enough there it was and it said to be ready at nine the next day and bring all our gear to Headquarters. There were around twenty of us on the list.

I went back to the barracks and started to get all my gear together and spent the rest of the days saying good bye to all the guys and wished then all good luck wear ever they were going. The next day we all-put our gear on the trucks and were taken down to the replacement depot we were told that we would be leaving next week. We just laid around and did nothing. I made a phone call home and told my sister were we were going and I would write to her as soon as I got to Florida. Monday came around and we were told that the draft to Florida had been cancelled and we were put into the replacement pool and would be reassigned to another unit.

It was the next day as I was just hanging around the Quonset hut when a guy came around and said report to the Bakery. I asked him where the bakery was and he said jump in the jeep with me and I will take you there. The bakery was down by the main gate. He dropped me off and I went into the bakery to find the guy in charge. The place was practically empty and I went looking around and found a Chief Petty Officer and told him who I was and was reporting as asked. He told me that the bakery was between shifts and said he would take me around and show me the setup of the bakery.

After working in the bakeries of the Aleutians and the liberty ships you could put them all inside this one and you would still have room to put some more. It was huge. The chief told me to report at four the next morning and would introduce me to all the guys. I went back to my area and told the chief in charge to have someone wake me up at three thirty the next morning. I got to the bakery and I guess there were around ten guys there; I was introduced and we went to work.

To begin with in the Aleutians we had dough mixers that made only 50 loafs of bread at one time and took about 30 minutes to make. Here we had a high speed mixer that took only 10 minutes to mix a batch of dough and made 400 loafs at one time. From the mixer the dough was dumped into a large bin on wheels were it was taken to a proofing room where it was allowed to rise until it doubled in size. From there the dough was then dumped into a large vat and the lid was closed and the dough was forced down to the bottom under pressure into a tube that had a knife that moved back and forth that cut the dough into one pound loafs. There was a guy there that weighed about every fifth loaf and if the weight was off he would adjust the weight with a dial that was on the vat and the pressure inside the vat went up or down as it was required to keep the loafs at one pound.

Below the cutting machine there was a stainless steel cone shaped vat about one foot at the bottom and five feet on top that was rotating at a fast speed. Inside this cone was a stationary track that spiraled up inside the vat that was very close to the side of the cone. As the dough dropped down to the bottom and it was pulled up the track and rolled into a ball and then dumped out on a table along the side the vat. There were two guys there that picked up the dough and placed it on a small elevator that had a platform every couple of feet and it went up into the ceiling and there it was dumped on a track that went back and forth across the ceiling were it was allowed to proof for about half an hour. Then the dough was dropped into another machine that formed the dough into a loaf.

It was shaped like a drum that was placed on its side and was cut horizontally down the middle. It was made of stainless steel, inside that drum was another drum that had a shaft in its center that was placed very close to the sides of the other one and it spun very fast so as the dough was dropped into the back of this machine it was pulled down and was shaped into a loaf. Then it was dumped on a table were there two guys placed the loafs into baking pans that held four loafs per pan. They were then place on a shelved cart and were taken into a proofing room that was full of steam and were left to rise for about 45 minutes.

The ovens were huge they were about 9 foot tall and 10 foot wide. There was a shelf about waste high and a door that opened up and inside the oven were 10 shelf’s that were like a Ferris wheel that went around and around, and on the front there was a dial that had the shelf’s numbered from 1 to 10. We had 3 of these ovens and we could bake 400 loafs of bread in each of them. We would load up the first oven and then go to the next oven and load it up then wait another 15 minutes and then load up the next oven. When we finished up loading up the 3rd oven the first one would be ready to unload. We had to move fast while we were unloading the ovens or when we got to the third oven the bread would over bake.

There were two shifts, the pastry and the bread; I was put on the bread shift. I was working about two weeks and when I finished my shift I went back to the repo depot and found a note on my bunk to report to the main office. I took my shower and went to see what the note was all about. I was told that I was put on a draft and would be leaving in a couple of days, I was told to get all my gear together and Report to a certain Quonset hut. I went back to the bakery and told the chief petty officer that I would be leaving and he wished me good luck.

I got all my gear together and reported to my new Quonset hut. As I walked in and put my gear on a bunk I met a guy that was in the hut and his name was Bill Sharply. Little did I know that this was a friendship that would last quite a while. Bill was 30 years old and had joined the Navy when the war started and was put into the 6th Navy Seabee Battalion and was a first class cook. He landed on Guadalcanal with the 1st Marine Division and spent almost a year there. He had a lot of stories to tell and I enjoyed all of them. It turned out that the draft we were in had 20 guys and they were all cooks and bakers. We thought that this was strange. We would learn soon why. We were told that in a couple of days we would be leaving. We got all of our gear together and were loaded on trucks and took off. As we went out the gate I looked at Sharply and asked him where do you think that we are going?

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