Friday, August 21, 2009

The Little Red Barn Lunchbox

Just look at this charming little red barn lunchbox!

It came from MFH's family home when it was sold. No doubt it was his, since it is an early 1950's vintage . . . and so is he.

The thermos is missing, although there must be a matching one somewhere on ebay.

There's a dent in the roof of the barn, but the barnyard seems as unaffected as it was -- gulp -- 50 years ago. That might explain the missing thermos though.

This little red barn has been sitting on a shelf in our garage for months -- straight ahead, right at eye-level when I park my car. It escaped my notice until last week. I suspect my internal clock ticked over to school time and the lunch box registered in much the same way as the aroma of a fresh box of 48 Crayola crayons.

Schools will be back in session soon and, no matter my advancing years, my life rhythm will forever be set by the school calendar. It's the time of year when my mother would load us up for the annual trip to Woolworth's to purchase our school supplies, including that box of 48 Crayola crayons. One year I also got a light blue Nifty notebook with two posts at the top to hold the paper, and a cover that folded back out of the way. I loved that notebook.

We could walk home from our neighborhood school for lunch back then, which I liked to do, mainly because every day in the first grade, I cried when they took up the lunch money and then said the Pledge of Allegiance. Every day! Mrs. Zoeckler, my very "seasoned" teacher must have encouraged my mother to let her shy, quiet first-grader walk home for lunch . . . and a little down time.

In second grade, I had a very pretty and young first-year teacher -- Miss Bailey -- whom I adored . . . and a shiny quarter in my pocket; Every day! No more walking home for lunch.

I had a brother in first grade that year, and two more younger brothers at home. My mother went on record as saying the school hot lunch was a bargain for 25 cents. My brother ate lunch at school too.

Years later, my son attended one school from preschool through high school graduation. The school did not have a kitchen or a lunch program. Sixteen years of making his lunches. It didn't take me long to figure out why my Barbie lunchbox from second grade saw more years of service as the retirement home for broken, run down and misshapen crayons down in our basement playroom than as an actual school lunch box.

I'd give anything to have that lunchbox today. Another relic of my lifelong association of food with pleasant memories. And Barbie might like spending some time around that cute barn, now that her glamour days are behind here.

The little red barn lunchbox has inspired the theme for my next monthly column for Heartland Women -- taking lunch to work and school. And maybe just a little more reminiscing about what went on in the school lunchroom.

So what did you do for lunch when you went to school -- school lunchroom, lunchbox, brown bag or lunch at home?

Or, if school lunch was too long ago and faraway to remember, what do you do for lunch now at work. Company cafeteria, restaurant, fast food drive-thru, vending machine or brown bag from home.

What kind of lunch do your kids have to break up their school day -- cafeteria or homemade? Brown bag, lunch box or bento?

Just walking down memory lane, thinking about lunch . . .


Debra Shedrick said...

O Cora - trust me to be all gloom & doom as it was the nuns for me! In gradeschool we ate in a Dickensian silence in a basement cafeteria, the food dished out by volunteer mothers known as 'hashies' - how quaint! Sometimes my mother (a hashie with an eagle eye!) would try to warn me off a dish she'd SEEN prepared & was not very certain about - but there was no help for it - we all had to eat the same grub, with relish. Sophie's Choice was not a big deal for me...

I had innumerable bouts of mal de mer at that school...honestly it was RIGHT out of Jane Eyre.

High school was much better but it seems to me that I maintained a constant weight of 103 pounds AT BEST!!! on a diet of 1-1/2 homemade egg salad sandwiches + 1 bag potato chips + 1 coke - all chugged together with a cardio routine of terror at the hands of the nuns...THAT'll keep you trim!!!

nckitkat said...

wow, hadn't thought about this for awhile! I do have a Beatles lunchbox sitting on the shelf, but Windy gave it to me for Christmas last year. The lunches I remember most were in junior high- I took a shoulder bag lunch tote (saw one exactly like it the other day, billed as a purse) with a pimiento cheese sandwich, potato chips, and a dill pickle. I do remember taking a carrot to school every day, for break, in the fifth grade. In high school, Mom gave me money for lunch for the week, which sent into my pocket for records- I would either eat 2 rolls or an ice cream bar for lunch. how nutritious...

SteamyKitchen said...

WOW - that lunch box is still in great condition! What a great thing to pass on in the family.