Sometimes I have a flashback of an earlier time where I see a picture and maybe even catch a scent. I’m never prepared for that to happen, it just does. This morning it was of paper sack lunches during elementary school years. I grew up in a small town and life was simple. We were sent to school with our lunch in a paper sack; there wasn’t a cafeteria early on. Our name would be written on our lunch sack and placed on a high shelf in the classroom. When it was time for lunch, our teacher would hand us our sack.
My lunch was usually peanut butter on white bread — always the Colonial brand. Sometimes my lunch would be a luncheon meat called Treet. Treet was similar to Spam, and I don’t think they make it any more. I also remember Vienna sausage, sliced, and mustard spread on the bread. When I opened the top of the sack, I could get a whiff of what sandwich I had for lunch that day. Some kids brought ham or sausage and biscuit from breakfast. One classmate brought chocolate on biscuits and I was fascinated by that. I didn’t grow up with chocolate gravy as many did and I suppose that’s what it was, only thicker so it would work as a spread on the biscuits.
Eventually my brown paper sack was replaced with a tin lunchbox and it eventually held onto the scent of what had been packed in it. My lunchbox was was with the red haired, freckle-faced “Howdy Doody” design. There was more room in a lunchbox and no concern about mashing the contents, so Mother added homemade cookies and maybe a few potato chips and sweet pickles that she had canned. I really liked pickles.
There was something about a sack lunch that was special. They went with me to the cotton fields and to the packing shed where I packed tomato plants. When lunchtime came and we of similar age gathered to open our sacks, it was a relaxing and fun time. Sometimes there were silly jokes told and laughter would become loud and the laughter created even more laughter. We were tired and glad to be sharing 30 minutes or so.
I love the memories that bounce back unexpectedly. Days of long ago that bring a smile as I drift for a short time in childhood. It was a nice moment to remember sack lunches packed by my mother and shared with friends who also ate from brown paper sacks. Thank you, Lord, for the memories.