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January 2018, vol 13 no 4

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Dan Hardison

Grade School Cafeteria

Our grade school cafeteria was a place of hot home-style meals. This was a meat and three cafeteria – no vending machines here. The rules were strict: no horseplay, no swapping or disposing of food, no dessert unless everything on your plate was eaten, and no plate with food could be returned without first proving that you had at least tasted each unfinished item.

The cafeteria manager was an older woman with a slight limp, a seemingly perpetual frown, and a booming voice. To my fearful schoolmates she ruled the lunchroom, but for me she was Great Aunt Viola.

When my class entered the cafeteria, she would seek me out and with a broad smile give me a cheek-to-cheek hug. Even worse would be the occasions when my class was lined up to return to the classroom and she would amble over, hand me a paper bag of fresh baked cookies (not on the day’s menu), give me a hug and say, “Take these home and share them with your brother.”

whistling
a hollow tune . . .
chill wind


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