Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Hot Lunch

Did you eat a hot lunch at school, or did you brown bag it, like me?

Grades 1-12, almost every day, I'd open that little brown bag and find pretty much the same thing. My mother was not very imaginative. She would give me a piece of fruit, and a couple of cookies to go with the sandwich. But that sandwich was always the same unless and until I'd complain. Then she would give me a different kind of sandwich, the same every day, until I complained again. It would start with peanut butter. Every day - peanut butter. When I'd tell her I was tired of that, she'd start making me a spiced ham sandwich - every day. When I got tired of that, she was likely to go back to peanut butter, unless I got specific. Then maybe it was jelly for a while. Or cheese. When I made my own sandwiches at ho
me I got creative, with various combinations. Mother never did that. And she always buttered the bread. Never mustard or mayo. Never lettuce. It was pretty boring. I used to envy the kids who got a hot lunch.

The only time I got money for a hot lunch was the day I was to be the narrator in a play. We were going to present the play twice that day to different audiences, and we were told to bring lunch money so that we could all eat together. That lunch was exciting! First of all, I got to go up to the counter with a tray and pick out what I wanted. Second, I ate split pea soup for the first time in my life. (I don't know why that particular event was so exciting, but it was.) And third, was the incident in the bathroom after lunch.

The play we were presenting was a period piece, and I got to wear a hoop s
kirt. When I went to the girls' room and into the cubicle, I didn't know what to do with that hoop. It was quite an adventure and took quite a long time to maneuver through the necessary motions. The teacher came in after me to find out what was taking so long, since I was expected back on stage. Between us, we managed to take care of the situation, and I hurried back to the performance, which was only slightly delayed.

The other kids I envied were the ones who rode the buses. I always lived just shy of a mile from school, so I had to walk. In the second and third grades I did get to ride a bus, because they were rebuilding our school, and we had to atte
nd one farther away. But the thrill was gone when we found out we were also going to have to double up with the kids who went there, sitting two to a desk. But at least I found out what it was like to ride the bus. I was happy to go back to walking after that experience.


Clara....in TN said...

Hi Bobbie, I had to walk to school too. My Mother would braid my hair and I felt like I had had a face lift, it was so tight. I would always take it down before I got to school.

Judy said...

I rode the bus and ate a hot lunch but as you found out riding that bus was not any fun. Kids were always fighting and yelling, etc. I remember the rice pudding at school to this day. I loved it and most of the kids did not like it so I ate everyones rice pudding that would give it to me. It was just a scoop of rice with raisins and some kind of sauce poured over it but I thought it was so good. Funny the things we remember!

Bear Naked said...

From Kindergarten to grade eight I walked home every day for lunch, so I never had the chance to brown bag it.
Then for the next four years, I attended a private boarding school where we had hot lunches every day.
It wasn't until I was in grade 13 at a public high school(that is how old I am, they still had grade 13 then-- LOL)that I got to brown bag it.
I don't know what was more exciting; the brown bag lunches or the fact that I FINALLY had BOYS in my classes.

Bear((( )))

kenju said...

Bobbie, I walked home for lunch every day in the first 3 years; twelve blocks each way!! No kidding! Mom didn't have a car then because Daddy took the only car to work, so I had to walk. The only time I had lunch somewhere else was when my mom had an appointment and I went home with a friend. To this very day, I am in touch often through email with that friend!!

I didn't ride the bus to school until 4th grade. We moved to another town just across the river and I lived far enough to ride. I hated it.

Alida Thorpe said...

I was born and raised in Brooklyn and at that time we walked to school and also walked home for lunch. My parents owned a deli/grocery store so my dad always made me lunch. It was a different world and a different time. I feel sometimes that when I try to explain it, people look at me with strange expressions or horror in their eyes. So, I don't talk about too often.

In the "city" very few kids took a bus or ate lunch at school in the elementary grades. When I was in High School, I took public transportation and we had a discount train pass. The usual 15 cents was reduced to 5 with the pass.

That was NY city life.

Sylvia K said...

It's so interesting and fun to hear all of your stories about your first years in school, like with most memories from my childhood, I shut them out of my mind so many years ago there's very little that I can remember other than the hurts. I don't mean to sound "oh, poor me", each of our childhoods are what they were and I have done just fine with the rest of my life. But it's fun reading about all of your memories, although I'm sure there might have been some you'd rather forget, too.

pink dogwood said...

The schools that I went to in India didn't have cafeteria - so we either brown bagged, or stayed hungry :)

Linda Murphy said...

I was a brown bag student too. My mom gave me money once a month and when the menu came out, I could choose which lunch I wanted to buy that month. I think I ate pb and j for most of those years (by choice!).

I rode the bus to school and was always the first stop (read: had to get up super early) and last to be dropped off (home late). One bus driver actually reversed the route once and I got to be dropped off first. It was great and I remember that I was home almost 45 minutes earlier than usual. Here in AZ, most of the kids walk to their neighborhood school, which I think would be pretty fun, since I always thought riding the bus was a drag.

This was a great topic!

Daryl said...

I was lucky. All during elementry school we lived right down the hill from school. So I went home for lunch from first grade through 6th... I didnt brown bag it til I got to Jr High ... in H.S. we had a cafeteria that served hot food, not all NYC schools have a 'hot food' set up ...



Anonymous said...

Lovely post, Bobbie. Grade School? Hot Lunches? All sounds foreign to me...oh, it is! I used to enjoy staying to what we call 'school dinners'. They were never very nice but they were different to the very basic meals my mum always cooked.

I was lucky enough to, on the whole, enjoy my early school years.

storyteller said...

Like you, my mom packed lunches for me and my siblings, but wasn’t terribly imaginative (my brown bag held the same thing as yours) and I always walked to school (even though HS was more than a mile each way. The only time I rode a bus was on field trips. I’ve not thought about those things for decades. Buying lunch was never an option because there was no money to spare.
Hugs and blessings,

Shelly said...

I went to a small conservative private school with no cafeteria, everybody packed a lunch...the school is still there and still, no cafeteria.
In high school I remember walking home a lot, it was twenty blocks but I have fond memories of walking home on pretty spring days.

KG said...

My mom always packed me these pimento cheese sandwiches. I HATED HATED HATED them. I guess she figured they were healthier than peanut butter and jelly. ANyway, all the other kids would make fun of me because that was what I brought - and I HATED them! I probably never even told her how much I hated those sandwiches ... why else would she have kept packing them?