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Conversation Threads: From Documentaries to Drill Sergeants to…Three Bean Salad?!?

 

This actually looks MUCH better than the slop I ate in 1972. (Gudlyf, Flickr.com)

Let’s see, how did it all begin? I was at the front desk today, chatting with Moon Mullins and Roxianne the Receptionist, and we began discussing fast food. This led to a mention of the Morgan Spurlock documentary “Super-Size Me” and the vague, if not a little dishonest, point it makes. Then came talk of the amazing and frightening documentary “Food, Inc.” Then we segued to school lunches. Oh, yeah, now I remember…three bean salad.

SGT., I MEAN, MRS. MARTIN

When we arrived at school lunches, I was whisked back in time (yeah, it’s corny but I thought I’d try it…didn’t work) to first grade back in the early 70s. Back then, each school picked and chose what it would feed us kids. There were no uniform menus that blanketed an entire school system. And then I remembered my first grade teacher, Mrs. Martin. We were all scared to death of her. I believe she was a former drill sergeant. And if she wasn’t, she missed her calling. But, she was a strict teacher and disciplinarian. Looking back, I realize she did it all the RIGHT way. When she said “No talking!”, that’s what she meant. And if you forgot, your rear end had a little meeting with her teacher’s edition reading book. Remember paddling? Remember how that made most all of us responsible adults?

THE CONTEST

Mrs. Martin, top left. I'm the one under the "1973," the one with the pointy head. (Masonville Elementary School)

One day, Mrs. Martin decided that she was going to have a contest. Whoever cleaned his or her plate at lunchtime for two solid weeks would win a toy. For the girls, it was some doll. For the boys, it was an ERTL toy farm set. I wanted it. I was going to win. But it’s not like there weren’t any hurdles. During this two week period where I had to eat EVERYTHING on my plate, we were served salad on a few occasions. Okay, that’s no big deal–except that the dressing that was always used was that nasty pale orange French dressing. Disgusting! But that wasn’t the worst of it. One day during the contest time frame, our lunch ladies decided to give us all…THREE BEAN SALAD!!!!!!!!! Are. You. Serious?!? Three bean salad was (and is) heinous!! I mean, come on. Did they really expect a school full of 6 to 11 year olds to eat that crap? I can only imagine how much left-over three bean salad those ladies had to take home that afternoon. Well, yours truly, knowing what I had to do to win the farm set, forged ahead, held my nose, and shoveled a too-generous serving of three bean salad down my throat. When the final bite went down (and I’m gagging right now thinking about it), I closed my eyes and didn’t talk to anyone for a few seconds. I guzzled what was left of my milk (and, by the way, drinking milk with ANY meal is repulsive, but that’s another story for another time), and finally got the taste out of mouth and put the horrible experience behind me. And, guess what? I won!! Yes, it was quite a bit of torture for an ERTL toy farm set. But, people, I wanted that farm set! Take that, three bean salad!

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