The Story of Bruce Aquizap's Life Would Make Fascinating Reading
"The Cook Of The Week"
By Maureen Sweeney
[Photo by Ralph Morang]
HAMPTON — Growing up on one of the oldest farms in Hampton, working as a Navy submariner, living in Hawaii, traveling throughout the Orient and finally returning home to start a new career as a teacher, Bruce Aquizap has acquired a myriad of skills. And cooking is one he especially enjoys.
His family bought the farm on Tide Mill Road in 1938 when Bruce was six years old. Although no one is sure of its precise age, estimates made from examination of the beams and other structural elements in the house place its origin before the Revolution. He lived in the house with his mother and grandfather and uncles.
"My mother always worked," he recalls, "so the men made their own meals. Cooking always seemed natural to me because my grandfather and uncles always cooked. Living on a farm meant we always had lots of fresh food around."
When he attended Hampton Academy, he requested permission to take a cooking course. The class was held twice a week, but was not for credit. The students ended the year by cooking a steak dinner for the entire faculty.
"I washed dishes at Hampton Beach in those days too," he says. "I learned a lot. Things like that rub off on you."
Bruce was a Navy man for 24 years, involved with submarines in some capacity throughout that period. He credits the stewards on the ships with teaching him to make his favorite dish -— fried rice.
"The stewards always had rice on board, and they used any type leftover meat with it, a lot of variety. They always had a meal in the pantry that way."
The cook on the submarine was an important person, he says. Meals were social occasions on board, and there were always rations at midnight.
Bruce admits he misses those Navy days, particularly the challenge of the work and the companionship of the men. Submariners, he says, are a rare breed — dependable people, good people.
He began his career as a fireman on the sub, then became a diesel mechanic and finally a chief petty officer in charge of machine maintenance. He served as chief petty officer in charge of reactor machinery on the Nautilus, after having attended nuclear school out in Idaho. He applied for and received a line commission, and retired from the Navy as a lieutenant.
During those years he and his wife Pat, whom he had met in Portsmouth during an overhaul of his ship, lived in Key West, New London, Maryland, Kittery and Hawaii. Bruce's ship took him to ports in Scotland, Spain, Guam, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan. Their home on Tide Miii Road is filled with furniture and art from all over the world, particularly the Orient.
"It was a hard decision to leave Hawaii," Bruce says. "We lived there for several years and really loved it. I liked all the Oriental ports I visited. I am half Oriental, as my father was from the Philippines. But I was brought up in a New England culture and experienced a certain awakening when I was over there."
His mother's family was Scottish, from Nova Scotia and later the Merrimack Valley. His father, a Philippine native, met her at Gordon College in Boston where they were both studying theology. Mr. Aquizap received a master's degree at B.U. and went home to the Philippines to prepare a home for his wife and two sons. Before he could send for his family, World War II broke out. Unable to communicate by mail, he smuggled letters to his family with American soldiers. He died In 1948, never having seen his family again.
"We know he was working for the United States government when he died," Bruce says. "We think he was in some type of intelligence work."
Bruce returned to the Islands and met many relatives after his father's death.
He and Pat decided to return to Hampton and purchase the family homestead. The land has not been farmed in 30 years, as the Exeter-Hampton Expressway separated it from the house. They have been restoring the house, a painstaking, but rewarding endeavor.
Bruce chose to go back to school when he got back to this country, earning his bachelor's degree in just a year and a half. He received his master's in occupational education and taught at UNH for a short time. He feels this type education is vital on a secondary level, and now teaches at Pinkerton Academy In Derry.
"The things we do at our school are unique," he says. "Most high schools concentrate on college entrance preparation, but only a small percentage of kids go on to actually finish college. They drop out of college and find they don't know how to work. So we try to teach kids about work. We give them effective skills."
Bruce has been at Pinkerton six years and teaches two classes now, small engines and work attitudes and ethics. He also administers the cooperative work-study program.
The 2,000 students from Derry, Hampstead, Windham, Chester, Auburn and Fremont may pursue straight academic programs or any of 12 vocational programs, which include agriculture, forestry, power mechanics, health occupations, marketing, office procedures, building trades and electricity, among others.
Although he misses the Navy, he clearly enjoys his life today. He and Pat are avid skiers and took a Caribbean cruise last year. They share an enthusiasm for the mammoth undertaking of restoring the house.
He and Pat both cook, and she is quick to voice her appreciation of his talents. He likes to make soup from scratch, to make good use of whatever he finds in the refrigerator.
"Mexican dishes are good," he says. "And I always like making omelettes. I enjoy fixing big meals for Christmas and Thanksgiving, and when we were in the Navy we did a lot of entertaining, huge dinners. I used to make things like stroganoff, chutney or curries."
When told his life would make fascinating reading were he ever to attempt an autobiography, he laughed.
"Oh, I could talk forever. I'm the guy who, when asked what time it is, will tell you how to build a watch."
For every two cups of cooked rice, saute the following ingredients in oil in a hot pan or wok:
1/4 cup ham, pork, beef or bologna;
small or medium onion 1/2 bell pepper
Before vegetables are tender, mix in rice; reduce heat slightly. Flavor with soya, salt, pepper to taste. When hot throughout, drop raw egg in center and cut into mixture. For extra flavor, add ginger to hot oil. For extra color, add slivers of carrot to the vegetables.
1 pound ground beef
I large can drained tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1 8-ounce can kidney beans
Chile powder to taste (more than two teaspoons)
Brown ground beef in a hot skillet. Drain grease. Combine beef and remaining ingre- dients in a large saucepan and simmer for several hours, stirring occasionally.
1 package Alba
1 cup water
1 bananna (small)
2 T peanut butter