While looking for a new inspiration in my posts. I picked up Anne Lamott’s book ~ Bird by Bird ~ “Some Instructions on Writing and Life”. One idea she had was to write short assignments ~ about as much as you can see through a One-Inch Picture Frame
My first short assignment was writing for five minutes about as much as I can see looking through a one-inch picture frame of school lunches at my parochial school during the early fifties:
The first five minutes of writing got me started ……………………
As I look into the one-inch picture frame of my memory of parochial school lunches in the early fifties, there isn’t much to see. Just me …. sitting at a long lunch table in the old auditorium. I can’t see who the classmates are that I’m sitting with. My table is the first one near the door and I’m facing 3 or 4 more rows of tables filled with noisy kids eating their lunch.
We kept our coats and lunches in the cloakroom near the auditorium…. no lockers …. just hooks for our coats and a shelf above for our lunches. I didn’t have a lunch box and my mother packed our sandwich in a brown paper bag.
(That’s about five minutes of writing …… 😀 ……… so I kept going for a half hour as my memory prodded me.)
There were no refrigerators so usually we carried cream cheese and jelly, PB&J, cheese slices w/ mustard, sliced tomato with one leaf of lettuce and mayo, liverwurst or bologna sandwiches. Everyone’s sandwich was made with white Wonder bread and you were weird if you had whole grain wheat, pumpernickel or rye. My sandwich was usually flattened and mushed by the time I got to eat it. Saran Wrap was just becoming popular in the early 50’s so my mother was still using waxed paper to wrap our sandwiches and without the cling factor they didn’t always travel well from home to school. There were a few kids that brought soup in a thermos. Ugh! 😦 Snacks were an apple, banana or hard-boiled egg. The auditorium kitchen sold us 1/2 pint cartons of milk.
The Mother’s Guild (mine included) would help out with supervising the kids . We didn’t have cafeteria style lunches back then when I was around 10 years old. The auditorium still had an old stage where they used to have class plays and events. It was no longer used and all events were held in the church hall which was next door to the parochial school. One of the nuns told us that the old stage in our auditorium had a pit behind the curtain where all the bad kids were thrown into. I think even back then I was a bit of a skeptic and I didn’t really believe her. 😉
After lunch we were filed out into the schoolyard for recess time. A few lucky kids were chosen to sell snacks to the rest of us. They carried them around in a flat cardboard container that looked like the cover of a box. I remember wanting to be chosen to do that and was afraid I wouldn’t be able to give change correctly. The rest of us would bring our jump ropes, rubber balls, yoyos and trading cards outside with us until the lunch hour was over.
One of the nuns would then signal that it was time to line up again to go inside to the classroom. Everyone would get in line and became real quiet. Then we’d wait for the sound of the clicker to begin the march inside.
“………. tell me about school lunches …… at parochial schools, private schools, twenty years earlier than mine, or ten years later, in Southern California or New York. And they always turn out to be similar to my middle-class Northern California public school lunches. But in important ways they are different, too, and this is even more interesting, for the obvious reason that when we study the differences, we see in bolder relief what we have in common” ~ Anne Lamott ~
~ Any thoughts on your school lunch experience? I’d love to read them in the comments below! ~
*Images from Pixabay*