Wednesday, February 3, 2016

School Lunches

I've been reading Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird. If you're not familiar with it, it's all about writing. It's a collection of things she has shared with her writing classes. I'm reading one chapter at a time. So it's going to take me about a month or so to get through it. The latest one, School Lunches, made me laugh. She talks about picking s short subject when you're stuck. Well, I'm not particularly stuck, but I thought it would be fun. 

The photo above is my elementary school, St. Matthew's. I took that picture several years ago. It's fitting that it was a cold, gray day when I took this picture. When I was in elementary school I walked back and forth four times a day. There were days when it was just so cold and ugly, I really didn't want to go home for lunch, especially since I was going home to an empty house. 

We were expected to go home for lunch unless you lived more than a mile away. We lived just within that mile. One day I convinced my parents to write a note to ask that I stay for lunch. I don't know why or how it happened. I just remember doing it. So that day, I had a lunchbox and thermos. I thought it would be great. It was a cold, nasty day. 

We didn't have a lunchroom. Nor were we allowed to eat in our classrooms. The "lunchroom" was the basement of the school. It had been designed for a kindergarten, but apparently the school decided to abandon the idea of a kindergarten. They used it as a lunchroom. There were no hot lunches. There were no soda machines. There was just a nun telling everyone to eat and be quiet. What a big disappointment. It was a cold and ugly room with cinderblock walls and high windows that kept out most of the already limited light. Everything was beige. There were no posters, no color. Well, there was a crucifix of course. Ugh! 

I'm sure I sat with some of my classmates. Nobody was allowed to talk. We couldn't go outside either because it was pouring. The worse part? It was a Friday, a day for no meat. I had a tuna salad sandwich. No lettuce. The tuna salad was wet and soaked the bread which was the nasty white bread that my parents favored at the time. (Ah, the miracle of sliced bread. Yuck!) 

Was I disappointed! After that I walked back and forth to school. Thinking back, I realize now that I had some definite ideas about food. They didn't involve soggy bread! So it was back and forth four times a day again. Somehow it was ok. After that going home and letting myself into the house wasn't so bad. At least I could watch television and not have a nun bitching at me - for a little over an hour! 

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