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What young'uns used to eat

The school cafeteria staff, circa 1960. Mrs. Martin is on the left.

When I was in elementary school, we called the school cafeteria “Miss Martin’s Slop Shop.” Mrs. Martin has gone on to her reward, but we all owe her such an apology.

I have often thought about Mrs. Martin’s made-from-scratch cooking and how lucky we were to have it. I remember many times walking in line with the other kids, outdoors to avoid making noise inside the school building, to the side door of the cafeteria. The wonderful smells wafting out the open windows of the cafeteria would hit. I particularly remember Mrs. Martin’s scratch-made rolls (I always had seconds and thirds), her amazing vegetable soup, and her apple crisp.

An alumnus of the school recently put out a book of old photographs made between 1927 and 1967. I cannot find a single overweight child in this book, and certainly not an obese child. We did have snack foods in those days — chips, Moon Pies, and all that. And all kids got snack food and candy, though never at school. We had ice cream in the afternoons. And desserts. But everyone was lean.

I’m not going to get into a rant about our industrialized, de-localized, factory-driven food system. But here’s a plug for cooking from scratch…

By the way, the scraps that the kids didn’t eat were collected into a large container, and a farmer in the area fed the scraps to his hogs. Nothing went to waste, either.

The serving line at Courtney School, circa 1960. Courtney school is in the heart of the Yadkin Valley.

One Comment

  1. Uptown Jimmy wrote:

    Is that a large chicken she’s got back there in that 2nd photo?

    I was just discussing this with a young employee last night. The restaurant was hosting a retirement party for the office manager of one of our best customers. The room was full of plump-to-fat folk, all of them bellying up to the bar and the buffet like pigs at the trough. I observed that most people weren’t fat in my younger days. Of course, lots of people smoked back then, which kept a body skinny. But I think not nearly as many people drank at all, and alcohol is highly caloric.

    Another thing: folk weren’t “above” working in a school cafeteria. Or at the K&W. Back then, it was better than plowing a field…

    Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

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