It’s been a long time since elementary school, but I still remember those cafeteria lunches. Back then they cost 27 cents each…a great bargain for a hungry ten-year-old.
First choice on the cafeteria menu was meat. Most likely it came from the chicken or cow family. If not, it had been an animal at some point in its past.
That meat was burger-sized, covered with batter, fried to a golden tan and drowned in grayish-white gravy. It looked like a flying saucer in a snowstorm.
Next came mashed potatoes, the best I ever tasted. If they were synthetic, they were of a high grade. And with the grayish gravy on top…excellent!
Then came the green beans. Some of them were blue and some were yellow, but that only added color to the plastic plate.
Finally, we were offered rolls. The first week they tasted great. After the lunchroom threw them out, we could pull them from the garbage and use at baseball practice.
For dessert, we had a choice of gelatin, some unidentifiable fruit cake and a green cookie. We usually chose gelatin.
We had no idea what sort of fruit was in the cake. And we suspected the cookie’s green color was caused by either new frosting or very old dough.
I’ll never attend elementary school again, but sometimes – often before noon – I hunger for a nostalgic meal in a lunchroom from the 1960s.
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Rix Quinn is a former magazine publisher who works as an independent biographer and broadcaster.