In the Kitchen with Bob Allwood


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  • PHOTO BY DON WEBB American Legion Commander Bob Allwood at the Greenwood Lake Air Show last June. When he's not flying, he's cooking up some fine clams for veterans and other lucky folks.





Commander J. Robert Allwood ‑‑ "Bob" to his friends ‑‑ can be found at the American Legion Post anytime something needs to be done.

He's been a member for 25 years and this is his third as commander of Frank M. Sell Memorial Post 289 in West Milford.

Besides presiding at ceremonies, he tends bar there on Tuesdays and Thursdays, participates in Legion fundraisers and occasionally helps with the cooking as well.

There's always a project coming up, he said, and one of his favorites is the dinner they throw for veterans from Preakness Healthcare Center in Wayne. Legionnaires arrange transport to the post where they serve the veterans a three-course meal, and play pool and shuffleboard with them.

"It's good for them to get out and around," Allwood said.

Allwood was an air traffic controller for the Army from 1968-71. When he was stationed in Germany, he said, the controllers hung around with pilots, most of them back from Vietnam. "They taught me how to fly," he said, and that's where he flew helicopters. "Once they took me up to fly, they said go ahead -- and fly." And he did.

He did not pursue a career as an air traffic controller when he was back home. "It's different in civilian life and I would have had to go back to school. I said 'nah,'" he recalled.

Back in the states, he started out as a tractor trailer driver, worked for a carpenter and also as a rug installer. He became a union ironworker and was a foreman when he retired. "When you need the money, you do whatever you have to do," he said. "We had three kids to feed."

Last June, Allwood indulged his love of flight during the Greenwood Lake Air Show. "I got to fly in one of the stunt planes," he said. It was a Extra 300L, a two-seat aerobatic airplane. The pilot, Rob Holland, is a seven-time U.S. National Aerobatic title winner and world freestyle champion.

"The pilot put it into a steep dive and pulled it out," Allwood recalled. "He said, 'I'll give you the ride of your life'; he was doing loops, barrel rolls." The pilot offered Allwood a turn at the controls, and he was concerned he might not be able to fly it. "He (Holland) told me, "You can't do anything in this plane that I can't fix." Allwood was thrilled. "I love to fly. It was quite the ride I had with the stunt pilot," he said.

But there's no mistaking the love he has for the American Legion. "The people I work with here-they do so much to help," Allwood said, and credits them for the success of the post. Yet he'd like to see more members come into the American Legion. Allwood married his wife Debra in 2001. He has three adult children from his first marriage, Bobby, Deena and Jessica. Debra has two, Douglas and Courtney, from her previous marriage. Allwood has 12 grandchildren and he is fond of taking them camping and fishing.

Auxiliary president Allison Kern said Allwood is "a great commander; very supportive of everybody there and an all-around great guy." "What doesn't he do?," she said. "After the last snowstorm he could be found blowing (snow) off the parking lot; if something needs to be done, he takes time out of his day to do it."

Allwood explains his recipe for 3rd Thursday Clams:I named them 3rd Thursday Clams, because that is when I make them, at my American Legion Post, in West Milford.

I started making them at my campground. Very easy to make.

Start by buying clams: little necks, top necks, cherry stones. I use Maine clams or mahogany clams.

Put clams in a tub or sink full of water. Get a shallow aluminum tin pan. Put the clams in the pan. Fill the pan with beer, wine or champagne just enough to get halfway up the clams. Add butter slices and chopped garlic. I add Old Bay seasoning, about a teaspoon. I use about a tablespoon for 40 clams. Cover the pan with tin foil and seal it.

Put the pan on either a grill or on stove burners. Cook at fairly low heat and wait for the foil to rise. When it looks like the foil has risen all around, the clams should be open. Put them in a bowl with some broth. Serve with Italian or garlic bread.

American Legion Post

177 Lincoln Ave., West Milford, NJ 07480

Phone: (973) 728-9831

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