Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Lunch Room

I hear people talking about getting junk foods for lunch at school and it brought back so many happy memories of my lunch room at Jay.
We did not have junk food. We had nutritious, hot, homemade meals every day and the lunch ladies knew us all by name and smiled when they gave us our food. It always smelled so delicious to me and my mouth was watering by the time It got to be my turn, to have my meal placed on my separated tray.
I had to do most of the cooking at home and it was a treat for me to have someone else cook. They fixed things I did not know how to fix and they made wonderful desserts. I wish I could list all of the wonderful meals but I am going to talk about the dessert that I loved so much. It was a yellow cake with strawberry frosting.. Home made strawberry frosting and homemade cake and it was sooooo good. When I would see it on the trays as we stood in line, I would begin to taste it. I never had anything like that at home or a salad or fresh fruit most of the time.
The Lunch meal was an important meal to me. It cost 25 cents a day and a nickel if you wanted an extra milk, which I did sometimes. If someone did not have money for an extra milk, I would still see them get one. The lunch ladies would not let anyone go without lunch or milk if they needed it.
You paid for your meal at the end of the line right before you went into the cafeteria line. When your 25 cents was paid, you went into the actual place where you could see the food. Large pan after pan of delicious smelling food. Casseroles, homemade bread, salads of fruit and greens, and those wonderful desserts. I am so glad that Daddy thought it was important for me to have a hot cooked meal at lunch. It gave me a much needed break from my job and it made me feel more a part of the school experience.
One of the best things about the lunch room were the lines. This is where you could see and hear everything that goes on inside the school and outside the school. I was a quiet girl, not very talkative except to my two friends, and I heard a LOT of stuff in that long line. It usually took about 10 minutes to get through the line and in that time I heard about where the Rolling Stones were playing and who went back stage to be with the band after, the chatter about the first black kid that tried to segregate our school and what a tragedy that was a few days later or so I heard, and I learned to admire one person who I never met but watched each day.
She did not have full formed arms and hands. I would not learn what this was called until I became a Nurse and knew what Thalidomide babies were. She did not know who I was and I did not know who she was but I knew her from seeing how she overcame something that most of us would cry about every day. I thought she was amazing and I never told her. She held her head high, walked and talked and laughed and balanced every thing so well. I was considered a person without any disability but she was the one without any disability. I would watch her in line as I sat at my table, alone a lot of the time, and I admired her so much. I would smile at her and if she ever looked at me, she would smile at me. I wish I knew her name so that I could tell her what a silent impact she had on my life. Wolfe comes to mind but that may be wrong. I often looked around at the kids who were worried about clothes, shoes, a car and then look at her thinking about all of the things she had to think about each day and it kept me grounded on important things in my life. Thank you unknown Jay High School girl...
I remember when one girl became pregnant in high school and she disappeared. You did not go to school pregnant in that day and I don't know if any schooling continued for her. You were ostracized and alone. I feel for her today.
I feel for that black kid that tried to come to our school. I heard he was stabbed on the second or third day that he was there but that could be false. All I know is that he was only in school a day or two and then he was gone and we never had another kid of color come to our school while I was there. It was still the old South in the 50's and 60's. I'm sure that has changed today.
The lunch room was the place where we had our standardized tests also. They were fairly easy for me because I was able to read well. We had to bring two no. 2 pencils to the tests and they were timed. The entire lunch room would be filled with each grade as we tested. It was hard for me to concentrate on the task at hand because I was thinking about the meal I was going to have in a little while in the same room. lol...
Kids today will not have the variety of home made meals that we had available. For a small school in a rural community, we sure had it going on over many other schools. Our education was stellar and our experience was also.
I am thankful for the lunch ladies. Many of them were like surrogate Mothers for this lil girl that did not have a Mother at home. They will never know what an important role they played in my life, but they sure did....
Gloria Peacock Kimmel Feb 2016
Postscript: I looked up the Elementary lunch menu for Feb and was pleasantly surprised to see that good meals are still being cooked at Jay. I think that is an important thing that distinguishes Jay from other schools. Thank you Jay and those amazing Lunch Ladies.

Check out what's for lunch today at Jay Elementary ! The official portal for detailed menus, nutritional analysis, and more for Santa Rosa District.

Gloria Peacock Kimmel The daughter of the Lunch room manager Mrs. Lou Leonard kindly shared her memories and Carole Magaha Barnes shared a photograph of the 1960 Lunch Ladies. It was sure wonderful to put names to faces in my memory.
Left to right....Thelma Bryant, Sue Corsey, Mattie Maddox, Mattie Harrison, Artie Lou Leonard, (aka Moma Lou!), Mattie Carden, Lois Bauldree, and Mary Polk. Mrs Lacey & Mrs Wyche came on board later. Mrs. Bryant, Mrs Polk, & Mrs. Harrison left before Mother retired.