“I had lunch with a chess champion the other day. I knew he was a chess champion because it took him 20 minutes to pass the salt.”

Earlier the day was cloudy and dark then the sky was blue and the sun was shining, but the sun didn’t last long; it disappeared behind a cloud. The sun has since returned and then disappeared again and appears a bit brighter than it was, good thing too as it’s only 51°. The wind is strong, and the trunks and top branches of the pine trees are swaying and bending. My backyard is a still life in brown as there are no leaves or any color. The male goldfinch was at the feeder earlier and he appeared brilliant against the drabness of the yard.

I never did go out yesterday, but I have no choice today. I have a list of places and another list of   grocery necessities. Gracie gets to come: it’s chilly enough to leave her in the car.

My mother always made us the best school lunches. We had sandwiches with the likes of bologna or ham. On Friday, the no meat day, it was usually tuna salad. She never made peanut butter and jelly. I’m glad because nothing was uglier than a PB&J sandwich which had sat in the lunch box all morning. The jelly seeped into the bread, and the sandwich looked blue. We always had cookies and fairly often small bags of potato chips she’d hidden from us at home so we wouldn’t eat them all. I don’t ever remember getting fruit. When it was cold, we’d sometimes find a thermos filled with hot soup, chicken noodle being the favorite. Once in a while we’d find Hostess cupcakes, Twinkies or Sno-balls. That was usually right after my mother had shopped, and my father had been paid. We bought our milk every day, those small cartons which were difficult to open in exactly the right place. The milk was delivered on metal trays to our classroom just before lunch. I think I remember it being a nickel, but I’m not sure. We were allowed to chat while we ate then we’d finish lunchtime by running around on the schoolyard every day but a rainy one. My friends always envied my lunches.

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19 Comments on ““I had lunch with a chess champion the other day. I knew he was a chess champion because it took him 20 minutes to pass the salt.””

  1. olof1 Says:

    The sun has been shining most part of the day here, even after I came home 🙂 But now clouds are gathering to block the sunshine from us.

    We had and still have free lunch at school and I think it tasted fantastic. Most kids said they didn’t like it but never me, I loved it. It might have something to do with my mother’s cooking but I think those cooks at school did miracles 🙂 I still remember the macaroni pudding with joy in my heart 🙂

    We only brought cookies (and Julmust) with us around Christmas, so we could eat them when our teacher read a chapter or two from a well chosen book every morning in December.

    Have a great day!

    • katry Says:

      The sun is shining now, but it was chilly when I went to do my errands.

      The kids whose parents don’t make much money are eligible for free lunch which is usually the hot lunch, but they could also choose a sandwich. We always made fun of the school lunches, but when I working at the high school, they got a new cook, and the food was delicious.

      My mother always bought cookies when she went grocery shopping. Oreos were the first favorite of all of us though Fig Newtons were on my list too.

  2. Hedley Says:

    The Free Milk Scheme was part of my education. The State provided 1/3 pint containers each day to each child and the milk break was part of the daily routine. The milk was in crates in an open area and we battled a foil top with a straw and suffered through a cream layer. A frozed or overheated bottle of milk is in the memories of many British children who are now “of age”.

    The program ended and we had “Margaret Thatcher Milk Snatcher”

    • katry Says:

      My Dear Hedley,
      We never had any sort of a break until lunch. I think the milk was cold, but I don’t remember. I just know it came in containers which took a bit of pushing and pulling to open.

  3. Zoey & Me Says:

    Do you remember your first intro to cafeteria dining? I went from elementary to Junior High and my first experience with the cafeteria was I didn’t know what to order there were so many choices. Back then an entire breakfast or lunch was .33 cents. Included a milk carton, chocolate was extra, and it made us all feel like grown ups. The end of the lunch pails! WOW. We were really hot stuff back then.

    • katry Says:

      It was in high school, ninth grade, when I first ate in a cafeteria. I felt grown up too! I don’t remember how much it was, but I never brought a lunch again. Catholic schools didn’t get all the free stuff public school did but we did get corn flour and corn bread was served almost every meal. I still love it!!

  4. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    I got to go home for lunch for the first 6 years of school. I don’t remember what my mother gave us for lunch except for toasted cheese and tomato soup which was and still is my all time favorite combo.
    We had milk break just before recess every day. My mother always gave us Saltines and peanut butter wrapped in aluminum foil. I still remember the smell of peanut buttery tin foil. We carried our milk money wrapped up in a tissue and tucked in the thumb of a mitten, if it was cold enough to wear mittens. The milk came on those metal trays. I didn’t have trouble opening milk cartons back then but I have a lot of trouble with them now. I think “they” have changed the glue or something. The little spout thing just does not want to appear intact and functioning when I’m through struggling.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      I didn’t live close enough to go home but when I was older, I sneaked out on nice days with my lunch and ate it sitting on benches under the trees. It was fun being outside and being just a bit deceptive.

      My mother also served toasted cheese and tomato soup-I liked to dunk my sandwich-yum!

      I have the same trouble with those cartons now but luckily most have pourers. I think the exceptions are the small cartons of cream.

      • Caryn Says:

        Now the small cartons of cream have pourers, too. In the morning, before coffee, that’s probably a good thing as I would most likely be resorting to a knife or scissors and in the morning, before coffee, that would be dangerous. 🙂

  5. Bob Says:

    The school lunch room allowed us to either bring our lunch or to buy a hot lunch. In elementary school my favorite hot lunch was Frito Pie. It’s a casserole made of chili on the bottom, cheese above and covered with Frito corn chips. When my mother packed my lunch it usually consisted of cold cuts on white bread with yellow mustard, a bag of chips and a fruit when in season. We always bought the half pint size milk. To this day I dislike yellow mustard. My mother never used mayo on our sandwiches and I dislike mayo on a sandwich to this very day.

    I am surprised that they didn’t have homogenized milk in the UK after WWII.

    The weather here was clear skies and highs in the low eighties. It’s been a very dry April except for those big storms that brought the hail which pock marked my car.

    • katry Says:

      My school, build in the early 1920’s, did not have a lunch room. I suspect your favorite lunch would have been mine as well-it sounds delicious. My mother sometimes used mustard and other times mayo. I don’t like yellow mustard either, but I like mayo.

      It has been chilly all day here.

  6. Rowen Says:

    The milk thing confused me. It would arrive in the classroom and I hadn’t the foggiest idea why. One day, it occurred to me that I too could get milk, so I did. I think I’m sorta still stuck at that moment of bewilderment and never really progressed.

    • katry Says:

      We knew that we could buy milk to go with out lunches-I suspect it was a notice sent to parents. Every morning my mother gave us our milk money so we knew what to expect.

  7. Cuidado Says:

    The story here on the island in the old days is that the poor kids brought lobster sandwiches and the rich kids had bologna sandwiches. Seems funny to think of that now.

  8. splendidone Says:

    going to Catholic elementary school & junior high, they had the most delicious hot lunches made by Mrs. Mary, we still talk about them today! How they stretched a dollar we had pizzas made on hamburger buns and homemade desserts. Chocolate milk was quite a treat!

    • katry Says:

      We didn’t get hot lunches until high school as our elementary school had no cafeteria. We had the same pizzas!

  9. MT C Says:

    A good lunch is difficult NOT to envy.


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