Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



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Friday, March 9, 2012

The Country Kid's Lunch

Ahhhh! Lunch!
When one lives in the country, and rides the bus to school, one learns to take lunch.
I did.
Live in the country, take the bus and pack a lunch, I mean.
Lunch time was the high point of my school day.
The bell would ring.
The scramble for our various lunch boxes would be completed.
The inevitable question, "Whatd'ja get?" would be asked.
And serious eating would begin.
My Mom took extra pains to make our lunches varied and delicious.
With mixed results.
There was always the sandwich.
Which was the mainstay of ninety pecent of our lunches.
Thick slices of homemade bread containing one of the following:
Tinned tuna salad. Yum.
Chicken Salad. Yum.
Ground Beef and pickle. Yum.
Peanut butter and honey. Double yum.
As long as peanut butter had been liberally smeared on both slices of bread before the honey was added, because otherwise, the honey seeped into the bread and made a sort of . . . crust.
Not yum.
Peanut butter and jam. Easily exchanged for my neighbour's cold beef patty and mayo stuffed into a homemade bun. Yum.
Tinned salmon salad. Not in my lifetime. And not easily traded, either.
Sigh.
Hot dogs. The best. The very best.
I should mention, here, that microwaves existed only on Star Trek and pre-packaged meals, like Kraft pizza and macaroni-and-cheese still had to be . . . prepared.
Mom's hot dogs were an amazing feat.
She would cook the hot dogs while we were eating breakfast, then put two of them into our thermoses with a small quantity of the hot water.
Then seal it up.
Add a couple of hot dog buns wrapped in waxed paper, and a packet or two of ketsup and mustard and lunchtime couldn't come fast enough.
She always included some extras as well.
There was the inevitable sadly-bruised banana.
Which had looked perfectly good when it was put in.
Or the uneatable apple.
I've decided that the idea of gifting a teacher with an apple came from a student who simply didn't want to eat theirs.
And had been taught that wasting food was unacceptable.
But I digress . . .
Mom also included a treat.
Usually something homemade and yummy.
Like squares.
Or her famous butterhorns.
Occasionally, she would change things up a little.
When my thermos wasn't filled with hot dog deliciousness, she would usually put in chocolate milk or hot chocolate.
Either of which just nicely rounded out a lovely lunch.
Once, she put in something different.
But didn't tell me.
I saw the sandwiches, so I knew that hot dogs were out of the question.
So I did what I always did.
Grabbed my thermos and shook up what was supposed to be milk and chocolate in some form.
Then I unscrewed the lid.
Pop!
It hit the ceiling hard enough to bounce clear over to the door.
And brought students from every room down the hall to see who was opening champaign in the grade nine classroom.
I looked up from my fizzing-over thermos and grinned.
Sheepishly.
Umm . . . Mom had filled it with Seven-Up.
The first and only time.
Another attempt at variety.
A good one, but wasted on me.
Alas.
Later, when I started making my own lunches, they included fresh tomato sandwiches.
Made from tomatoes that I sliced at school so the bread wouldn't get soggy.
And packages of celephane-wrapped goodies.
The sandwiches were good.
Though they were made with store-bought bread.
But the treats never quite measured up.
To this day, when I hear someone mention lunch, I think of my Mom's homemade bread sandwiches, hot chocolate and my one experience with Seven-Up.
I miss those days.

13 comments:

  1. I had a Roy Rogers lunch box with matching thermos. You know, I can't remember what was in my lunch boxes. That's sad. Mom wouldn't like that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oooo! Roy Rogers? I'm so jealous! I always had Bonanza. Or Gunsmoke.

      Delete
  2. We walked home for lunch every day until 7th grade, when the four mile round trip walk didn't leave time to eat. That's when I learned my mom was genetically programmed to butter every sandwich, no matter what went in. Consider butter and boloney.....So, I packed my own. She didn't do it to make me pack my own, she just had to put the butter on first, even if you stood next to her and shouted NO BUTTER.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My Mom used to put butter on as well. Then my sister pointed out to her that there was fat in the mayo. Then she just put on mayo. Whew!

      Delete
  3. Diane, your Mom made butterhorns for my 16th birthday party! Such a great lady!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I loved her butterhorns! Thank you for sharing this memory! :)

      Delete
  4. I remember the gasket at the top of the thermos liner started to shrink. Milk or other liquid would leak into the shell and ferment. One time I opened my thermos to discover some really smelly orange juice. Somehow the juice got mixed with that concoction in the shell.
    El Yucchho!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh. I totally missed that one. Yeeech!

      Delete
  5. Your stories always bring back good memories for me as I too grew up on a farm and rode the bus to school. I remember our lockers back them were never locked and the boys would steal all the good stuff from our lunches. That is until we made special chocolate chip cookies one day. The chocolate being taken from the chocolate ex-lax bars they used to make back then. The next day we noticed a big rise in the number of guys missing class. We never had problems with the boys taking our goodies from our lunch again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We used to have the 'town kids' try to get into our lunches. The teachers were pretty strict about that. Exlax worked for a lot of situations! How clever of you to bake it into cookies! Use the crime AS the punishment! :)

      Delete
  6. Oh yes I remember those days and we always ate our lunch My kids left half in their bags to rot or threw them away. Some kids go hungry and could have used it.We have a lot of hungry kids in schools today.Teachers feed them.But those lunch boxes today are very expensive to buy.I saw one for 129.00 dollars.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Diane, I never know what I'll find when I visit, but I know that I will smile and have a good time! You really took me back with your expose on school lunches of yesteryear. It only took my father eating at school with me once before I had a hand-packed bag lunch every day for the rest of my school career. Usually by my dad, who would put notes in it and smuggle in something good that my mom wouldn't approve of for lunchtime! I had forgotten about that lovely memory until I read this post. So thank you! And thanks for linking up with NOBH! Smiles -

    ReplyDelete
  8. Diane, what wonderful memories! Sadly, I can't recall my mother ever making homemade bread or rolls. It was white Holsum bread all the way, although there was the time she bought the butter topped one! My memories include the trendiest lunch boxes on the market (her way of compensating for the lack of baked goods, I think) and Holsum Ding Dongs. Gosh, how I miss those! I loved reading this post! :)

    ReplyDelete

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