Lunch Envy

By Joe Rector

One of the things that adhering to a diet brings on for some is a more concentrated attention to food. Instead of being satisfied with the food that is allowed, a few dieters, instead, dream of the items that aren’t allowed. I am one of those individuals, and of late, my mind has wandered back to the lunches that kids brought to school.

Parts of Ball Camp Elementary School burned to the ground in 1963. Two sixth grade classes and one fifth grade class moved across the street from the school and took up residence in an empty building. I believe that it once housed a hardware store.

This new classroom setting had only a couple of bathrooms (one for girls and one for boys), and since the cafeteria had been incinerated, students brought their lunches and ate them in the classrooms. We circled our desks and chowed down.

I always remember a couple of lunches that students ate. One was brought by Steve Buffalo. Steve would open his brown bag and pull out a thick sandwich wrapped in wax paper. The aroma of that sandwich is always easy to recall. Steve had two pieces of white bread. Come to think of it, I’m not sure if any other kind was offered in grocery stores. Lying between those slices of bread was a bed of mayonnaise, and atop that were two pieces of sausage. He told me that his mom put the leftover breakfast food in his lunch. Steve let me sample one of his sandwiches, and the taste was wonderful.

Johnny Dickens taught me a new way to make an old sandwich. Johnny brought bologna sandwiches for lunch. Also in the bag was a small bag of Lay’s potato chips. He removed the top piece of bread. Next, he popped the bag of chips, laid those chips on the desk, and pummeled them into small pieces with the heel of his hand. The next step was pouring a thick layer of the clobbered chips on the bologna and replacing the bread. Johnny still had a few chips in the bag, and he would lift it to his mouth and pour the crumbs in. The sandwich looked so good that it left me drooling with envy.

Some classmates brought a thermos filled with hot soup. On cold days in the concrete block building, a hot food was a prize. I sometimes wished I could pour some hot tomato soup from my thermos and could crumble saltine crackers into it. However, a couple of years before, I’d clunked it against something, and the glass inside shattered.

I always appreciated my mother’s making lunches for us boys. However, the truth is that she could spread potted meat or egg salad so thin that the only way we knew something was on the bread was to see a swash of pink or yellow on it. I was like most kids of the time; the thing others had always looked more tasty than what was in my lunch bag. Of course, I must have had plenty to eat back then because I’m dieting now. As a result of having more than enough to eat or choosing the wrong things for meals has landed me here where a regulated food intake always leaves me thinking about good food from long ago. I’m betting that in heaven folks don’t have to worry about what they eat. Maybe someday I’ll have that privilege, but for now, I’ll just try to eat healthier most of the time.

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