“Class Separation” In the Lunchroom

The school lunchroom…never at any time of the day was social status, athletic ability, or academic achievement more glaringly on display. I think we all remember the rules, we all remember our little “click,” and we remember there was a social line that “we just didn’t cross.” In this excerpt, we get the chance to look back and see things through the eyes’ of a fifth grader, if you look hard enough, you just might find yourself in this room. Where did you fit in? How many Milks were on your tray? Did you have pocket money for the ice-cream?

When I was a boy, I was (like our boys’) a “free luncher.” As with most families, money was tight, things such as ice-cream and juice was something we only stared at and dreamed about. No matter where you sat, or who you sat with…grab your coffee and stop for a minute just to remember.

Chapter 11: Excerpt- The Lunchroom

“As soon as we opened the lunchroom door we were met by a deafening clatter. The large room was as usual, crammed wall to wall with people. Countless voices stacked one on top of the other resulted in an aggravating hum, a room full of kids clamoring for food and attention. All this noise was accompanied by the clinking and clacking of pots and pans, competing with utensils banging against fiberglass trays.

The line was huge as usual, wrapping along the wall before ending at the door. From the back we heard “make a hole, make a hole.” as Mark and his crew came shoving their way through the line. Those what didn’t move outta the way were unceremoniously shoved to the side. As he walks past me, he makes certain to plant a sharp slap to the back of my head, making my ears ring.

Gotta be quick Miller.

I didn’t give him the courtesy of a sideways glance.

Cool! Chicken over cornbread! yelled Stick. That’s it no trades, he was quick to point the “no trades” clause out.

Chicken over cornbread is good, the chicken part is a thick flavorful soup that’s ladled over a large piece of pone. The broth has green-beans, carrots, and peas’, it’s warm and feels good when it hits your belly, making your whole body kind’a relax.

That’s fine with me I muttered, while rubbing the new knot growing on the back of my head. I don’t feel much like tradin’ anyway’s.

I like it good enough said David, but the white beans are the best in my book.

Oh dude, peaches again, whined a wincing Chucky, I hate those things, their all slimy and crap. Cain’t even cut ’em without ’em jumpin’ off the…

Big David interrupted the ol’ boy’s speech, staking his claim before Chucky finished his sentence

I’d be glad to take ’em off yer hands friend.

Making certain Chucky didn’t have a chance to rethink his comment.

At the end of the line sat Mrs. Tuttle, her neck bent at an unnatural angle, glaring at her ledger like Scrooge over numbers. She looked up, but just for a second as each kid filed by, making certain to give each tray a thorough examination. All this and never speaking a word. She didn’t have too, she knew each kid by name, including address and phone number.

You can always spot the ones with money, they usually parade around the lunchroom, extra milks proudly on display. Some have as many as three or four stacked on their trays. When the meal is finished and all that milk guzzled down, they prance about the room once again, ice-cream proudly stuffed in their mouths.

Ice-cream is expensive, a luxury reserved exclusively for the absolute elite. Fifty cents apiece they are, well outta the reach of normal kids. Most are content with simply watching this spectacle, all the while hoping that daing ice-cream hits the floor.

Without a word, Dave bows his big ol’ head and ask’s the Blessing. I’ve never seen him put a bite of food in his mouth without blessing it first. The rest of us follow suit, just in case the ol’ boy knows something that we don’t. As soon as he raised his head, he leaned over to grab Chuckie’s peaches.

Chucky raised his hand stopping those big sausage fingers. “Slow down Tonto; you’re gonna get em.”

Dave looks at him and mumbles. “Well; I don’t want you gittin any of your slobbers on em, might ruin the flavor.”

Stick stopped eating for a second and looked up from his tray. I’ve tried to get mom to fix this at home. She said it sounds nasty, the only thing that should go on cornbread is butter.

Not at my house I pointed out. Papaw eats his with milk and molasses, says it’s the only way to go.

Chucky looked up with a wonder in his eye. He flipped his spoon around, using it as a pointer. Have you ever wondered what they do with the rest of the mole?

David looked up confused.

What’re you talkin’ bout friend?

You know, the rest of the mole, the mole. When they make a jar of mole-asses what do they do with the rest of the mole?

OH… I git it, that’s a good one friend!

There it is; this time I was sure I saw teeth in that smile. Stick and I both shook our heads; some stuff was simply too stupid to waste a good comment on.”

I hope you enjoyed this little excerpt about the Lunchroom. It’s gonna be a bit before I post again, I got four grand-babies on the way so the little woman and myself are gonna go welcome them. That’ll give us a total of seven grand-sons’. As always please hit one of the buttons to let me know what you think and comments are greatly appreciated.

The Tin Cup Clan….

Published by The Tin Cup Clan

Mike had never considered himself an author until in his fifties an advanced cancer diagnosis for him to worry about the legacy he would leave for his children and grandchildren. Once the treatments began he needless to say, found himself with plenty of time to put pen to paper. The result was a culmination of stories soon to be named The Tin Cup Clan. A simpler time but not necessarily the greatest of times. The story of a group of young boys trying to survive the harsh reality of coal country, poverty, and just simply growing up. Along the way friendships are formed, old town mysteries are solved, and lessons are learned that will last a life time.

3 thoughts on ““Class Separation” In the Lunchroom

  1. Hilarious, Mike! My family moved a lot, and we attended several schools. One school played music during lunch. I enjoyed hearing Nat King Cole singing “Rambling Rose.” At one school, kids who could not afford lunch worked in the cafeteria serving line to pay for their food. I always envied them, but that was something that marked them as “poor.” Some years later, that practice was abandoned as discriminatory. When I was in the early grades, I walked home for lunch. If my mother was away, we got fifteen cents to go to the drug store for a hot dog.

    Some of my favorites from the school cafeteria: homemade peach and cherry cobbler, hot rolls, fish sticks, macaroni and cheese. Schools now don’t do much home cooking.

    Take care, Cheryl

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you ma’am. funny you should mention food serving, later in the book Mikey meets Mr. Bill when it’s his turn to work on the line. And speaking of food, don’t forget that square pizza.


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