Clyde, Time Was: We packed our lunch

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 26, 2018

Time was, we packed school lunches.

The paper-bag kind you lost, sat on or traded with the kid across the table. Nothing to throw away, to add to the growing heaps of single-use plastic. The poke — believe it or not, from the French word “poque,” for sack — was the perfect fit for a PBJ sandwich in waxed paper. Which was a perfect trade for candy, marbles or a pocket knife.

We also had devotions, flag-raisings, books and manners.

“If any man hunger, let him eat at home.” — I Corinthians 11;34.

Before class or on the way home, you could stop at the neighborhood store if you had a penny you found. Miss Atwell’s on North Ellis, The Paper Poke on Lincolnton Road, Tom’s Drug Store downtowny, The Flat in the bottom on North Long, Fifty-Fifty on East Bank, Eller’s on the 100 block of North Shaver, Myers on East Lafayette, Mr. Beck’s on Bringle Ferry or Henry Eagle’s — called “Dirty Harry’s” because of the dirty wooden floor.

Mrs. Smith’s fried pies were at Clark’s Store and Johnnie’s Store stood at the entrance to Dixonville.

They all asked, “May I help you?” It was your first shopping experience and you were “on your own.”

A swallow of colored water came in little wax bottle. The candy de rigeur included Mary Janes, Bit-O-Honey, BB Bats or Tootsie Rolls, invented in 1907.

Nothing went further than Pal Bubble Gum. Double Bubble dame along in 1928 and Bazooka in 1947. It smelled like a cross between Kool-Aid and a new eraser. You could deposit bubblegum underneath anything or swallow it at the risk of appendicitis.

You could lie and spend your milk money. Why would it ruin your supper? We are starving, now. Instant gratification would not reward you for being a straight-A+ student.

In the 1930s, the USDA suggested sandwiches made of meat or bean loaf, lettuce or celery, cottage cheese, brown sugar, baked beans and lettuce or applesauce.

City people and rich Yankee kids had shiny new lunch boxes. We know the top prices paid on eBay for collectors. A Jetsons 1962 lunch box sold for $2,086, 1933 Mickey Mouse for $2,350, 1968 Yellow Submarine for $2,086 and the 1954 Superman for $13,255. Check your closets and yard sales. It’s what inside that counts.

“Sometimes the lunch must be packed and carried long distances, and in this case unusual care is needed to make it attractive and to keep it clean and wholesome,” said Farmer’s Bulletin in 1916.

At the Salisbury Prison, Henry J. Babbit testified that his rations on Feb. 20, 1864, were cornbread and three spoonfuls of molasses. Some days brought a half-pint of rice soup.

Hunger pains can be real. “Normal gastric juices in a fasting stomach content is 50 to 100 ml, opalescent in color and normal emptying time is three to six hours,” according to Physician’s Handbook, 11th edition, 1960.

Just because you “don’t like it” is no excuse for real starvation. You can live for seven days with no food or water.

Why do we insist on plastic water bottles every 20 seconds? Recent research suggests water and Alzheimers are related. Hydrate your brain.

“He hath filled the hungry with good things and the rich he hath sent empty away.” — Luke 1:53.

Real hunger does not go away. Like getting high or getting sober, it all comes back to haunt you. But “hunger knows no bad bread.” So don’t waste your food, and keep packing.