I have not changed any names in this section. Mr. D deserved open recognition and remembrance. My brother still holds this man very close to his heart.
THE SCENT OF VANILLA - PART EIGHT
Some of the staff looked upon the fact that we had a cook to prepare all of the staff meals as either a curse or a blessing. The staff's cook was Frank Delgado. "Mr. D" was not too well known by myself, however, my brother was assigned as the commissary director and the cook's assistant. My brother, Jim, related that though his was a demanding boss, he was also given to an extremely odd sense of humor.
He would often walk into the kitchen while the dishes were being washed and announce, "No smoking in the kitchen!" all the time puffing furiously on a pipe, then suddenly walk out.
On occasion, to liven meal times up a little, he would walk into the dining room and tell everyone it was time for "the auction." He then would drag out an old Navy duffel bag and produce various used items, which we would then bid on. Using just about anything we could barter with, from candy bars to pine cones, the staff would engage in outbidding each other for old coffee pots, beat up frying pans, and army packs.
He would begin, "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, (and if any females are in this room, I want to know about it), this coffee pot is unique in its class. You will notice that the inside is caked with so much coffee residue that one no longer needs to use coffee grounds to create the perfect cup of Joe. Just add boiling water and voila' you have a brew fit for a king." Continuing, "What am me bid for this personally embroidered army pack? This fashion accessory matches any color you may be wearing, as long as you are wearing olive drab and why just look here, please notice the initials on the flap, it reads U.S., that's right - "us"!
Mr. D also was a veteran of past wars, and though he rarely spoke of seeing action, it showed. He was a little man with a protruding stomach and a back that was bent and terribly humped. His entire body was covered with albino-like splotches. Jim told me that he had been seriously burned in the Second World War during which he served on a submarine in the South Pacific. Apparently, Mr. D's sub had been hit by enemy fire causing the survivors to seek refuge on the surface.
The surrounding waters were covered in a deep film of burning submarine fuel. During the course of his attempts to rescue his fellow submariners he received burns over most of his body. For several days they fought off shark attacks and exposure to the sun. Frank Delgado was decorated for his heroism and for the injuries he sustained in the war.
Later, in civilian life, Mr. D started and led a Boy Scout troop in the city of Watts. The troop was the first black scout troop in Los Angeles. A short documentary was made recalling his life and was broadcast in the early 1960's. Like so many of the adult leaders in the scouting movement, Frank Delgado gave unselfishly of his time in an attempt to build the character and to enhance the lives of young boys growing up in a confusing and dangerous world. Certainly, if one looks to people like him, a great deal can be harvested through his example.