Tuesday, April 6, 2010

My Favorite Subject

This is me in the first grade. Don't you just love the plaid jumper and hair curl vaguely resembling Princess Leah's side buns? First grade was actually a very exciting time for me. Not only was it the start of my elementary school journey, but also the same year that the grade school I was attending, Rushwood, first opened. It was still bright and shiny, no vomit or crayon stains on the carpet, and the paint on the walls smelled fresh and new.

I distinctly remember hopping off the bus after my first day and walking home with my two older sisters, Kathy and Laura. As we strolled through our front door, Mom greeted us and specifically approached me to find out how the day had gone.

After hearing about my teacher and the names of all the new friends I'd made, Mom asked, "So, what was your favorite subject?" Without hesitation, I smiled at my Mom, looked her straight in the eye and with complete seriousness, replied, "LUNCH!!"

Now, I must explain that I was not an overweight child, and it certainly wasn't the meal my mother had prepared for me (a grape jelly sandwich on white bread, apple, and three Oreo cookies. Every. Day.), that made me favor this particular "subject."

It was my awesome lunchbox! It was a Dawn lunchbox. Not "beginning-of-a-new-day" dawn, mind you. I'm referring to Dawn, the 6" doll from the late 60's and early 70's. Never heard of her? I'm not surprised! Her popularity was pretty short-lived. Dawn was similar to Barbie, except that she was a bit smaller in stature, had a much less ample, pointy bosom, and looked much more "hippie-ish" than the fashion-conscious Barbie. But I was really into her!

When it cam time to pick out my lunchbox the summer before first grade, I was elated when I found the cool, vinyl, yellow-cupped-thermos-included DAWN lunchbox! It was glorious! The days before school started, I spent HOURS opening and closing it's clasp, taking out the thermos, and pouring imaginary liquid into that gorgeous yellow cup. I couldn't WAIT for the day I would actually be "going live" and consuming real food and drink from it's interior!!

Grandma Simmons stopped by for a visit and I proudly showed her my new treasure. She appropriately "oohed" and "ahhed" at the groovy outer artwork and amazing plastic yellow cup. Then she unscrewed the cap of the thermos and peered inside. "Hmm," she murmured disapprovingly, "this concerns me."

 When I asked what was wrong, Grandma informed me that the inside was made of glass (yes, I'm very old. This was before kid's thermoses were constructed of the infinitely-safer pure plastic!). She said she worried that if I dropped it, the inside would shatter and I'd have dangerous shards of glass stabbing my mouth when I drank the milk inside.  I was mortified! She told me not to worry, just to remember to sip my milk with pursed lips, instead of taking big gulps (I actually PRACTICED this technique!).

Then there was my father's advice. I promise I am NOT making this up when I tell you that he pulled me aside before the first day of school and instructed me not to accept any food from the other children at lunchtime. He said that you never knew, there could be POISON in it!! That's right. My paranoid, insane Dad actually believed that a fellow six year old may somehow devise a plan to lace a Hostess Ding Dong with arsenic and I would die, never to see second grade!

I was concerned by these warnings, obviously, but I wasn't overly worried. Because both of my older sisters would be at school WITH me. In fact, Laura was only one year older than I, and since we were in the same "cluster" together, (grades 1-3), we knew we'd be eating during the same lunch period. Laura would protect me.

The morning of my first day flew by in a whirlwind of bus-riding, name tag-applying, and homeroom teacher-meeting. Soon, it was time to line up to head to the gymnasium/cafeteria for the highly anticipated LUNCHTIME!! I could barely contain my excitement!

Laura, because she was older and wiser (and extremely bossy), instructed me to be the very first in line for my class. She would then take her place at the very BACK of her class line, so that when the two lines merged, we'd be next to each other. This sounded good to me.

Except that I soon learned that EVERYONE wants to be first in line. I was pushed back somewhere to the middle, and before I knew it, we were filing out, and Laura was way up there, several children ahead of me.

Suddenly, thoughts of arsenic-laced fruit cups and glass shard-filled thermoses enveloped my brain. This all seemed surmountable when I knew bossy Laura would be by my side. But now, with her far, far ahead of me, I felt terribly alone. I panicked. I began to bawl. Loudly. Imagine the great first impression I was making on my new classmates!

The teachers, no doubt alarmed by the sudden, intense, high-pitched wail, raced to see who exactly was being murdered back in the line of first graders. They approached, knelt in front of me, and asked what was wrong.

They couldn't quite make out the "I don't want to be poisoned or bleed from my mouth" rantings, but they were, thankfully, able to understand my pleadings for my sister. They retrieved (the now mortified) Laura, who grabbed my hand and led me to her place in line. Just like that, everything was TERRIFIC!

Seated together at the long lunch table with the attached stools, I finally, joyfully opened my precious hippie lunch box and consumed it's jelly-soaked contents. I'm happy to report that we managed to survive without any incident of poisoning or mouth stabbing! Also, my awesome, thoughtful teacher made sure that every lunch period, from that day forward, I had a seat next to my bossy protector. Lunch was, without a shadow of a doubt, my favorite subject!

Funny how some things never change as you get older...

Thanks for Reading!!

69 comments:

Gucci Mama said...

I am so glad you were never poisoned. You were (are!) WAY too cute for arsenic. ;)

Sarah said...

I loved it. Thanks for sharing!

I have a linky party going on where you can enter a post about anything you want to share with others. I would love it if you entered this one!

Its at http://bloggerchixdesigns.blogspot.com/2010/04/talk-about-it-tuesday.html

Kristin said...

My She Ra lunchbox holds the fondest memories for me. I wish I still had it!

Jenny said...

Wow. What a twisty-turny post. I loved it. I'm glad you avoided the tainted treats...

Jessica said...

I love this story!

We live in a Zoo! said...

Lol, my Dad would have totally told me the same thing.

Cheeseboy said...

Poison fruit cups? Holy Hannah, that is freaky. Razor blades in the snack pack I can see, but poison? You are lucky to be alive.

Sylvia K said...

What a fun look back! Amazing the things we remember or that stand out in our minds from our childhood! I'm surely glad that you avoided poison and glass shards!! And what a beautiful young lady you were -- and are, Joan! Have a great week!

Sylvia

{Kimber} said...

wow!! how funny that you were scared of being poisoned! :)
thanks for sharing

Everyday Goddess said...

What a harrowing experience! So glad it turned out okay.

Btw, I still have my Dawn dolls and my Dawn fashion runway.

Jealous?

My daughter has them, technically. At least I let her think they belong to her. snicker snicker.

Joanie M said...

sigh. You were so lucky. You got to have a lunch box and stay for lunch every day. I went home for lunch, nearly every day, for 8 years (Catholic school). We were allowed to stay for lunch on rainy days, but we had to use paper bags and buy a container of milk. And we didn't have a cool cafeteria either. We ate at our desks.

Sarah said...

What a sweet story. You have a fantastic memory because I can hardly recall yesterday. Our sons will be a year apart in school and I couldn't be happier about it. I hope Jake watches out for Ryan like your sis did for you.

lifeshighway said...

I don't remember Dawn and I feel deprived. Oh course I was not allowed Barbie so I assume Dawn fell in that same category. I was only allowed flat checked prepubescent Skipper and her lame outfits.

I love the story. It is good to know that sisters stick together. Coming from a family of boys, I was not quite as ,let us say, nurtured.

FRANNIE said...

I remember my first lunch box! Raggedy Ann and Andy...the thermos was soooo cool with it's red cap.

I'm totally dating myself aren't I?

Heatherlyn said...

That's a very good post! I remember those lunch boxes. Well, not the "Dawn" one, but the lunchboxes in general. My kids are definitely getting ripped off. There was something magical about them. I remember going to select a lunch box at the beginning of the year and there was an entire Isle full. They smelled new. They were metal and sturdy (most of them). They came with that cool matching thermos. Oh, those were the days!

clew said...

LOL - I remember those days well. But my brother was 6+ years older than me, and already in junior high by then. I had to brave it alone.

I don't remember Dawn, but I did have a Dusty doll. She was kind of a hillbilly Barbie with freckles and a horse.

Lisalulu said...

LOVE YOUR STORY. quite a story teller, It brings up fond memories of Barbie. Yep I was a total Barbie and Disney-Mickey Mouse Club girl.

Barbara E Brink said...

Well I lived in California when I was in kindergarten and my mom was terrified something bad would happen to me there too. It must be the state. We moved to Washington and she didn't seem to think it was nearly as dangerous:) Love the lunch box. Those metal boxes with the glass thermos were cool. I had one for the "Big Valley," and one for "The Monroes." Westerns were hot on tv back then.
Thanks for the stroll down memory lane.

KathyB said...

I remember that lunch box and thermos! But I never knew Dad and Grandma said those things to you. You poor thing. Glad Laura was there to protect......and tie shoes and all. :D Great piece, Joan!

Eva Gallant said...

Wow! I must be extremely lucky! I never got that poison warning, but managed to survive elementary school anyway! Great post!

sitting on the mood swing at the playground said...

Cute photo! Oh, I loved Dawn. Wasn't her boyfriend named Gary? I had the runway, too...or something that seemed like a Miss America stage. I never (EVER) had a lunchbox. I'm glad your sister was around to protect you from poison and bits of glass...

Feeling Just Right said...

Hahaha Joan! You made my eyes smile along! The picture of the girl with the bleeding mouth had me reading faster coz i worried about something bad i thought happened to you A LONG TIME AGO! I am so glad nothing happened. I love how bawling out in public view can grant you what pulling and pushing can't!

p.s. the lunch box looks like a lot of fun ;)

Darlene said...

What a great story. Love your lunch box...it was too cute!!! I've been trying but can't for the life of me remember what was on my 1st lunch box :(

Lucy said...

You make me smile. Simple as that. xx

Ace said...

Your lunchbox was totally cooler than mine. I actually carried a purple Donny Osmond one. What the hell was I thinking?

fraizerbaz said...

I can't remember what was on my lunch box, but I do remember that when I was in the 2nd or 3rd grade, I would get to school early, and go on to play on the playground.

One morning, I placed my lunch box on the ground so that I could swing. What a shocking discovery I had made when I finally picked my lunch box up and opened it - my food was covered with ants!

I am still creeped out by this, and I warn my daughter about this every time she takes her lunch to school!

citymouse said...

I loved my Dawn dolls!! We always bought lunch but I always wanted a cool lunch box. I still have a soft soft for the old ones.

Jean Maurie (angelsloveyou) said...

Hi Joan, loved your story. I don't remember my first day of school but I remember before Easter the teacher told us to put our heads down on the desk and close our eyes. When we opened them we found a candy Easter egg on our desk. I thought the teacher had laid it!! LOL

Thanks for following me. I wanted to comment on your Hallmark story but it looks like the comments are closed. I enjoyed it and understand now why you don't like the channel.

Denise said...

You were a very cute little girl. Thoroughly enjoyed this post. I can relate, my dad being a police officer, taught me all kinds of survival techniques. I still look around me when I'm walking in a parking lot and I carry my keys just as he taught me to, as a weapon. God forbid I would ever have to be put to that test ;)

ReformingGeek said...

Ah, those were the days. I loved my lunch boxes.

Hum....that hairstyle is worse than my "stick-out-everywhere" style at age six.

I still have a Dawn doll.

I also attended a "new" elementary school. For tornado drills, they had us duck and cover against the wall in the hallway. The other wall was glass......

Great post!

Lorie said...

Now I am afraid to let my kids eat in the cafeteria! ;D

Being Me said...

Oh I'm a big fan of lunch too ;)

I let out a laugh reading "Hostess ding dong" laced with poison.

Very amusing post!

PinkPatentMaryJanes said...

Do you know how much I need that lunchbox? I've never heard of Dawn - guess she didn't make it to Australian shores - but those illustrations are perfection (as for those nutso warnings and pursed-lip milk drinking - oh you poor possum!)

Bossy Betty said...

LOVE the hairdo and the memories!

Erin said...

I loved this. It's funny the simple things that make us so excited as children. If only we could really appreciate the little things that much as adults!

***Amy*** said...

What a fantastic story! Thanks for sharing :)

THE OLD GEEZER said...

The most popular lunch box for boys when I was in elementary school (back when God created dirt) was a Davey Crockett lunch box. I can't remember what it was for the girls back then because I thought girls had Cooties and I didn't pay much attention to them. My oh my how things changed a few years later when I entered junior high school.

Delana said...

Joan..I loved this post. And I swear, I had exactly the same hairdo. I still chastise my mother about that. What was she thinking? My question is...what did your father tell you before Halloween trick or treating?

CentFla said...

Another great story honey - loved it. You were concerned about your side buns, I get that. But what the crap is up with your kid Dine*o*mite collar?

Mumsy said...

Loved this blog! Thanks, for visiting mine. I am now one of your followers. Have a great day. Hugs

Julie said...

What a fun post! I loved school, too--those were sweet & innocent days, weren't they? I remember Dawn! I had the red-head with the orange outfit in your picture! Wonder what happened to her....?

So glad to be back and able to catch up with your wonderful stories--love your writing! Thanks for the visit and all your kind words!

Hope your day is fabulous!

Kakka said...

What a cool lunchbox and thermos. I remember the glass ones too. I can't believe your Dad warned you about poison - LOL. I don't think we had Dawn in Australia - or if we did I didn't know about her. Thanks so much for sharing. xxx

Grandma Yellow Hair said...

HOw funny of a post...and love your school picture!Sounds like your dad and me could of been kin...hahaha
Love
Maggie

Yankee Girl said...

Picking out a new lunch box was my favorite part of going back to school!

I am glad you excaped the poisonous kids.

Yankee Girl said...

I meant "escaped." I know better than that!

Miss Go Lightly said...

My favorite lunch pail was my Strawberry Shortcake one. I thought the thermos was the coolest! Thanks for the trip down memory lane :)

p.s. Please head over to my page when you get a moment. I have a little something for you ;)

Kathleen said...

We at Northfield Elementary were jealous of you all who were headed to Rushwood. All through elementary school, we were secretly jealous, and rumors abounded about the cool stuff there - like the swimming pool which never existed in reality.

Mercy said...

What a funny story. Had me laughing all the time.

magically ordinary said...

So funny! What a great story. Oh, and I love the collar on your shirt!

Juliana said...

I wish we still all had those lunchboxes!!!!

Teresa Evangeline said...

Never had a lunchbox, only a brown paper bag...so sad ;) but, I did have both Barbie and Dawn. Still have Barbie and a few outfits. Love this post.

Langdowns said...

Hysterical!! I love that story. I conjured up so many images of my own, only in Australia we don't get cool things like lunch rooms/cafeterias to sit in. It was finding a piece of grass or a bench out in the playground. Can't say poisoning was much of an issue either, but glass in the thermos may have been. Who knows? Did you have to search far to get a photo of the lunch box and thermos? I don't recall what mine was. I think it was boring old Tupperware (yep, Tupperware hit Australian shores too ....)

Rachel Cotterill said...

I can't believe you remember so much from that age! I have hardly any memories from my early years of school, and certainly not with such colour!

Mary@Holy Mackerel said...

My son's favourite subject was recess. Oh well, we can't win them all...

Lynn Irwin Stewart said...

Cute picture!!

Erika said...

Haha! Other kids have poison lunches. Priceless!

Anti-Supermom said...

My oldest son is afraid of being poisoned too, he's always asking me if this is 'healthy for him or not?'. Seriously kid, I'm the one who packed your lunch.

LOL.

Eve said...

What an exciting post! I'm so glad everything turned out to be ok. Thanks for sharing :-)

Have a great Thursday, cheers: Evi

JenJen said...

My mom totally told me the same thing. It was awesome. She made me wary of lunchladies, too. I wanted them each to show me their hands. I didn't trust anyone with my food....and, come to think of it, I still don't! Horrible.

Shan said...

Oh man, your first grade photo brought back some seriously hilarious memories. My first grade picture included frizzy blonde hair, missing baby teeth, a partially erupted adult tooth and a pink Garanimals leisure suit. Yeah, baby, yeah!

Working Mommy said...

Look at you!! This is a great picture...takes me back to when I was in first grade. Elementary school was great times...it was Middle school where things started going down hill. Kids can be so cruel!

WM

Velvet Over Steel said...

Awe...this brought so many memories! Thanks for sharing and esp. adding the pictures! They were great!! ~ Coreen

Richard @ The Bewildered Brit said...

The Deadly Ding Dong of Doom! Fantastic! :)

Momma Fargo said...

What a cute little pixie you were/are!

Tracie said...

I think I remember Dawn. I'm pretty sure that I had one or maybe an older gal in the neighborhood did? I cried every day of kindergarten. I have no idea why. I've always been a mess. :)

Melissa @ Suger Coat It said...

Haha. Love this post. It reminds me of all the silly things that grown ups can say to kids that end up tormenting them. I assume they don't mean it. Most of the time..!

Bossy Betty said...

Oh yes, that first day can be rough. Love that picture! What a hairdo!

lori said...

What a cute post! It brought back memories of playing with Dawn dolls. I still have one. I went home for lunch everyday and it was always peanut butter and apple butter jelly and powdered milk. Yeah, my mom was a little weird.

Lee said...

omg, i hadn't thought of the dawn dolls in ages! i saved my barbies for my daughter (who never did get into dolls) but the dawns didnt make it. Thanks for the memories! Love the blog, sorry I don't get here more often!

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