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I was standing behind the backstop. Mike was at the plate and I was up next. The score was tied and we had a guy on first. The pitcher rolled a baby bounce pitch to Mike. He kicked it deep, but Mark, a third grader, caught it on the fly. In elementary school, kickball games seemed very important. It was midway thru recess and we had a chance to pull ahead.
From across the grass I saw my teacher, Mrs. Purdy, heading straight for us. She had an unmistakably purposeful walk. It was obvious that somebody had violated a rule. I knew that she was headed for me. Women teachers in those days wore dresses. They all had their hair done in some sort of beehive style. The ones that wore glasses wore those horn rim style that made them look so intent. Mrs. Purdy was intent on making me understand the error of my ways.
I hadn’t finished my lunch that day. I am very sure that it was Deborah Sayles who told on me. Deborah had this disapproving look that she gave when she saw others breaking the rules. When I dumped my half eaten lunch in the trash, I knew that Deborah saw me. When she gave me that look, my lunch was already in the trash. Too late to change things. I wanted to go play.
I usually brought lunch from home. I had one of those cool lunch boxes. The metal one with the matching thermos. This was before zip lock Baggies. Mom mostly made my favorite, which was peanut butter and grape jelly. The day before I was goofing around with my best friend Jeff and had broken another thermos. So regardless of what the daily menu we had at home said, I had to buy lunch.
School lunch in the 1960’s was not fine dining. Hamburgers on Thursday and fish on Friday. Not really fish, but fish sticks, Usually with tater tots. There were also a lot of mystery items in our meals. The one thing that I could not stand was Brussels sprouts. It was the perfect trifecta of texture; smell and taste that made me gag. We had a strictest kind of teacher that made sure we finished our lunch every day.
I sat down and ate some of my lunch. I noticed that our teacher wasn’t at our table checking on us yet. I saw my opportunity and took it. Our teacher Mrs. Purdy was a few minutes late getting to the lunchroom. I didn’t understand why we had to eat everything. I guess that it had something to do with all of all of the starving children in China. I hurriedly went to the trash and dumped the vile sprouts and got out before our teacher saw me. But alas the good girls were watching. This is a problem that would plague me for most of my youth.
Mrs. Purdy took me off of the playground and straight to her classroom. She made me write an apology for wasting food. I also had to spend the next three lunch periods writing that I would not waste any of my food. Worst of all I had to check out with the lunchroom attendant everyday and show her that I had eaten all of my food. I asked my Mom to make my lunch every day from then on. Except on Thursdays of course. I liked hamburger day.
In Mrs. Purdy’s second grade class, I received the best grades of my entire school career. I had straight A’s and one C. The C was in citizenship. It is amazing how early in life patterns are set.