Weatherford Democrat

August 23, 2011

School ‘daze’

Janis Saunders
Weatherford Democrat

WEATHERFORD — I can’t believe summer is over for thousands of kids. Now begins nights of homework, tests and maybe sports of some kind.

My grandson, Jeffrey, started school in Plano Monday and came home with homework in four subjects. I can’t ever remember having homework assigned on the very first day of school. Things have really changed.

I have seen on television and read an article in a magazine about how kids who brown bag it risk getting sick. Sandwiches that have various meats on them run the risk of breeding bacteria that can sicken your child. Now you can enclose ice packs with the food or freeze little bottles of water.

I remember my mom making ham sandwiches, bologna and tuna fish salad sandwiches, and I never got sick. Neither did any of my friends. Does that mean the meats available in this day and age aren’t as safe as they were in years past. Sometimes I carried my lunch in a lunch box and sometimes in a brown paper sack. It just depended on what Mom had to put in my lunch.

I also had favorite lunches that I looked forward to. Meat loaf sandwich, Spam (it tasted better then than it does now), pressed ham and bologna.

Mom would put some kind of fruit in my lunch. It depended on what was in season at the time.

There were certain days I would buy my lunch. Those days always had special menus. I think it was Wednesday and Friday if I’m remembering correctly. Those days would have a hamburger casserole and fried chicken. There would also be big, plump, yeasty rolls that you didn’t need butter to make them taste good. I think back during the 40s and 50s every lunch room had a couple of ladies that could make the best rolls you ever tasted. My mouth is watering now just remembering them.

There was one mother who worked in my elementary school lunch room. Her specialty was cherry pie, and when she made them, the lines would be long and rowdy. The fear was they would run out of cherry pies before you got to the dessert section.

From what I hear now about lunchrooms, the food is not very palatable and the kids don’t like regular food. They want pizza, tacos and other unrecognizable items.

I remember in the sixth grade, we kept our lunches in the cloak room directly behind the school room. We had to have our names on our lunch boxes or sacks so there would be no chance of getting the wrong one.

One day my friend, Joy, picked up her lunch, but when she opened it, there was nothing inside but the wax paper her sandwich was wrapped in. Everything else was gone. My teacher, Miss Davis, sat the class down and relayed the information about Joy’s missing lunch. Nobody had seen anything or taken anything. So, Joy had a free lunch, compliments of Miss Davis and the ladies of the lunchroom.

Two days later, I eagerly awaited lunch because I knew my mom had made me a meatloaf sandwich. When I picked up my lunch sack, it was minus my sandwich. The only thing left was a little sack of vanilla wafers. The meatloaf was gone. Miss Davis sat us down again and spoke rather forcefully that this had to stop. I tried to pinpoint who might have taken those lunches. I couldn’t come up with a name.

I remember the next week it happened again. Who ever was doing the “taking” must either be really hungry or mad at the three girls who had their lunches taken. I guess I forgot to mention, no boy’s lunches were taken, only girl’s.

This time, Miss Davis was mad and we all knew it by the way her eyes were flashing while she spoke to us. My girl friends and I all got together to toss out names of who might be guilty. Nobody stood out, so we waited for another lunch to go missing.

Then, one Friday, during morning recess, my dad came to pick me up. My Aunt Birdie had died and we were going to have to leave for Dublin as soon as possible. Miss Davis told me to go pick up my books and lunch, then I could leave with my dad. Dad followed me inside and down the hall to my school room. As I walked into the cloak room, I saw Cecil, who was a grade behind me looking through the lunch sacks and boxes lined up on a shelf. He jumped when he saw me and started crying. He said he only took the lunches because he was hungry. I knew Cecil was a child that didn’t have many clothes and no parents that were much good for anything. My mom had helped the PTA to collect clothes for needy kids, and Cecil was one of them.

My dad had followed me into the cloak room and was standing there listening to Cecil saying he hadn’t had much to eat in the last six months since his dad had lost his job at the steel mill. Dad put his arm around Cecil’s shoulders and said, “OK son. We’ll see if we can’t get you some help. Just hang in there.” He dug in his pants pocket and gave Cecil 35 cents, which would buy him a plate lunch in the cafeteria. Cecil wiped his nose on his sleeve and thanked my dad. He asked me if I was going to say anything to the kids. My dad told him I wouldn’t breathe a word all the while giving me that look that said, keep quiet about this. I nodded my head and we left.

When I returned to school on Tuesday, my mom accompanied me. She stopped at the office of the principal and talked with her about Cecil’s problem. She also said she thought the PTA should start a fund to help other kids who might be having problems. Miss Waller agreed, and a fund was established that morning with my mom, Miss Waller and my teacher being the first to put in some money.

My mom also had a talk with Cecil and told him there would be days when I would have an extra sandwich or some fruit to share with him, and he promised to not take any more food from the lunch sacks.

So, I learned another lesson from my parents. Don’t kick someone when they are down and out. Instead try and find a solution to their problem.

Mom used to put this in my lunch sack, and she occasionally put enough in for two.

Peanut butter easy cake-bread

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar, divided

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, divided

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter, divided

2 tablespoon butter, melted

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup Crisco shortening

2 eggs

1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup peanut butter and melted butter until crumbly. Set aside.

Stir remaining flour. Baking powder, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl. Set aside.

Place remaining 1/2 cup peanut butter and Crisco in mixer bowl. Beat until creamy. Continue beating and gradually beat in remaining sugar. Scrape mixing bowl down.

Add eggs, one at a time; beating until fluffy. Add baking powder mixture alternately with milk beating after each addition.

Spread batter in a greased 13- by 9- by 2-inch baking pan. Top with crumbly mixture . Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan and cut into squares.

Note: I use Jif peanut butter.

Here’s another favorite addition for lunch.

Peanut butter and apples

Spread one cracker with crunchy or smooth peanut butter. Place thin apple slices on top and cover with another cracker. Yummy!

Also, place creamy peanut butter on vanilla wafer cookies, top with another and eat.

Fruity muffins

1 cup uncooked old fashioned quick oats

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 cup Crisco oil

1 large egg

1 1/3 cup low-sugar or sugar free Apricot preserves divided

1/2 cup dried mixed fruit bits (apples, dates, apricots)

1 cup mashed banana

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with foil or paper liners. Set aside.

Combine oats, both flours, brown sugar, baking powder, spices, salt and Crisco oil in a mixing bowl. With mixer on low, mix until coarse crumbs form. Add eggs, preserves, dried fruit and bananas. Blend with mixer. Put in 12 baking cups and bake at 20 to 25 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Heat remaining 1/3 cup of preserves in microwave on high for 20 seconds. Spread on top of muffins.

I know schools have changed, but these foods are good for lunch or an after school snack.

Cecil had some pretty good eating for two years, then I lost track of him. I hope he rose above his challenges and is happy.

Janis may be reached at: