Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Words and Pictures

Great meme! started over at Pip's. Words and Pictures stories inspired by the great Anne Lamott. I feel as if Anne's a friend since she is a friend of a friend, even tho I've never met her. But you know the feeling. (Hey Anne!!! it's me? no, you don't know me but...)

This week's or rather last week's theme is School Lunches. Now those Australians had proper school lunches but I had a lunchbox in a cafeteria room that didn't serve food. It was a new Catholic school built by a group of blue collar workers who wanted a school for their children. The Church had no money for the school, so the fathers built it themselves. I spent 2nd grad commuting into Washington DC till it was open, but that's another story.

This is what I had as a lunchbox - good old red plaid - as I don't recall seeing any with cartoon characters in the 50s, and I'd be hard pressed to say what cartoon was my favorite. Maybe Elmer Fudd? I watched cartoons on Saturday mornings but even then I preferred to read.

Original seen at Poppytalk

I remember that we had to go down to the cafeteria class by class, quietly and in line as this was a Catholic school of the 1950s. We did have very nice nuns who were pretty modern in many ways. Once seated in the cafeteria we could talk and have fun while we ate, as long as we stayed in our seats.

I liked the food my mother and Nana packed - for the most part - which is just as well because we had lunchbox inspection before we went outside to play! Unfinished food meant - Go back and finish! Fortunately there were always a few boys who would eat most anything you didn't want. I look back at that now and wonder if any of them didn't have enough food to eat since we had mostly working class families in our school, and some of them with as many children as Catholics are notorious for having.

But what DID I eat? Well Wonderbread had just come into its own, so I had the 'good' gummy white bread that lasted forever, even on top of a refrigerator in the summer heat. Makes you wonder, doesn't it... Yikes! Mostly I had either bologna or peanut butter and jelly, and be sure to make that chunky peanut butter and grape jelly. Occasionally some potato chips but otherwise no 'junk' food or snacks per se. That sandwich was as 'bad' as it got, even tho it seemed good at the time. No mayo or mustard btw, and my mother would shake her head and wonder how I could eat it so dry. I still don't put anything on a sandwich exept perhaps for some chutney or hot pepper spread. Mayo and mustard are still not my friends.

I think I also got my general dislike for apples then because they seemed to take too long to eat when outside called. Who wanted to gnaw away at an apple and miss playtime? Bananas were faster and oranges were cut up in wedges to be sucked off the peel in a flash. I did have time for my Nana's chocolate cake with chocolate frosting however. The frosting would stick to the waxed paper and I would carefully scrape it off with a finger and lick it luxuriously in front of my jealous classmates. I also liked dill pickles and on a few occasions ate the pickle with the chocolate cake. I suppose I was getting ready for the eclectic tastes in food I would discover in my adult life.

For a while, I was also given a short thermos to cope with winter lunches, but I disliked the vegetable soup I often got, and after I came home with the metallic clinking sound in my thermoses one too many time that ended. Thermoses that bang around in a metal lunchbox being swung back and forth don't last too long. My mother would sigh, and throw another thermos away. I suppose I did feel money grew on trees at least when it concerned me.

Sometime during these years of childhood, the metal lunchbox gave way to the more modern paperbag, which I was expected to bring home for reuse, but wickedly usually just threw away. Oh how those seeds of a disposable life were sown! and how I fought my family's thrifty ways. How many other things, people, and opportunities would I throw away over the years till I learned to value what mattered?

Ah those school lunches. My needs were met, and most of my wants were catered to besides. And oh....to have a piece of that chocolate cake right now! Nana, I can still almost feel my tongue licking the icing off the cake right now. No Hostess Cupcake for me. I have Nana's cake in my mouth and in my heart.

Now...do you want to read about more School Lunches? Well jump right over here and check out the list of players who tell your their story.


Tinniegirl said...

What a fabulous story. Thanks Maureen.

Thanks for the tip on the Ipod gadget too. It's a great idea. Mind you, there is something about writing down ideas that I do love.

Kirsty said...

My thermos had Raggedy Ann on it. I loved it so much.

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