Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Growing Up In Himni, Utah - Episode 9


School Lunch



School Lunch was popular in the sixties. Oh, there were a few who sneaked off campus for a bottle of pop and a bag of potato chips (corn chips weren’t invented yet), but most of us stood in the lunch line and ate whatever the lunch ladies put on our trays.


A favorite place to socialize was in the lunch line and the lunch room. The food was pretty ordinary, but I thought it tasted great.

I remember standing in lunch line one day a few kids behind Marjorie Green and her girl friends. They were the popular girls of the Senior Class and always wore the most stylish fashions. Marjorie had on a green and orange dress that day. It was sort of a sack dress all pea soup green with a garish orange panel down the front. Separating the green from the orange panel were two large zippers, one down each side. The zipper pulls were two three inch brass rings. They were pretty predominant ornaments at her neckline. We hadn’t been standing there long when Billy Morton and Brock Hoopes walked by. Brock turned aside, walked up to Marjorie, inserted an index finger in each of those rings and pulled them clear down to her hemline where they completely disconnected. The whole orange panel fell to the floor. Bob Jensen, Marjorie’s football hero boyfriend, felled Brock with one punch.

When the pandemonium cleared up the Principal gave Marjorie the worst of it for wearing such a ridiculous outfit to school. “Seems to me,” he said, “She was begging for it.”

Lunch was pretty predictable. There were ten basic meals with few variations. These were cycled through with regularity. Then one day the cooks decided to get creative. They went Mexican. I had never eaten Mexican food. There was no Taco Bell in Himni; infact, I don’t think Utah had one anywhere. I didn’t know a burrito from a canoli. I got exposed to tacos the following summer when my aunt and uncle took me to San Diego for a couple of weeks. At this point in my life, though, this was as exotic as it gets!

As Mitch, Lew and I worked our way past the cooks at the lunch counter, Lew watched Nettie, our favorite cook, slap a large brown gooey looking glob next to the Spanish Rice on Mitch’s tray. He asked, “What is that!?”

“Refried Beans.”

Lew looked up at Nettie, then down at the glob. Then looking back at Nettie asked,”How many times?”
As Lew’s own glob now slowly slid down the front of his shirt, we walked cautiously over to our seats.

By the time we were Seniors, School Lunch was going out of vogue. My gang still ate there regularly, but fewer and fewer joined us. Along about April came National School Lunch Week. We decided in honor of our fair cooks and in order to promote School Lunch, we’d better do something special. We put our heads together and came up with a pretty good gag.

Between us we managed to gather up a complete collection of linen, china, crystal, silver and candelabra. After paying the clerk we ducked out of line and grabbed a table where we set out the whole table setting, lit candles and all. To our amazement, as we turned to go get our food, Nettie appeared at our table with all our food on a huge tray she’d conjured up somewhere. She served us with finesse befitting a king and then to our utter amazement, accepted our invitation to sit and dine with us. She was fine company, but kept picking at our poor table manners.

We had a newcomer in the gang that year. Bob Elkington was an exchange student from New Zealand and had fit right in. We loved trying to mimic his accent. Bob picked up his fork in his left hand, placed the tines, pointed down, on his plate and began stacking potatoes and peas on the back of the fork with his knife. “Mind your manners, Bob,” Nettie scolded, “One day you may eat with the Queen!” Bob replied, without even looking up, “Pahdon me mum, but this is ‘ow the Queen eats.”

Nettie stared resolutely at Bob for about a minute, then quietly switched her fork to the left hand and picked up her knife.

2 comments:

Love Life and Learning said...

I have enjoyed your lunch room stories for years. I remember Mom saying something about the china and crystal being haphazardly tossed into the trunk of the car after your lunch that day :) I am not saying it was....that is just what my memory recalls. :)

Great stories!!!!!

Candleman said...

I don't remember either, but I can imagine it to be true. I don't think I ever got in trouble for it though. I find it fascinating that I can plainly see the juvenility of the kids that surround me now, but I still can't see my own. My memories of those days make as much mature sense now as I thought they should back then. Maybe, deep inside I still am a kid.

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